Meet Our Members
Meet some of our active members here. To see all of the posted testimonials, click here.
We felt we needed to grow spiritually together
Luke and Coraline have been attending UCV since Fall 2016. In 2017, they became members, welcomed their son Gabriel into the world, and were married by Steven Epperson. Luke currently sits on UCV’s Committee on Ministry.
a rational framework and an informed perspective on religion, mythology and spirituality
We're happy for her, but sad for us: Jodie is moving to Salt Spring Island.
The Salt Spring Unitarians are already welcoming Jodie on their facebook group, so she'll have a ready-made community to join there. She assures us she'll be back fairly regularly and will keep in touch.
Jodie moved to Vancouver from the UK in 2016 and has since been sharing her knowledge of esoteric traditions in astrology, tarot and divinatory arts across the local community. Read the full testimonial.
Melody Mason is an economist and consultant who worked for many years with the World Bank. She has an MBA, an M.Sc in Development Economics, and a BSc in Sociology.
Read the full testimonial.
I’m with kindred spirits with Unitarians
As a teenager in Vancouver in the 60’s, I babysat for a Unitarian family across the street so learned a bit about UCV and thought it would probably suit me better than the United Church my family was involved with. Read the full testimonial.
Whenever I go to a Unitarian church or event, I feel “at home”. Unitarian Universalists are diverse, and congregations are diverse, but I find some things are common in most of them. Read the full testimonial.
Louise has a particular interest in nature religions, wrote the Unitarian Universalist adult religious education curriculum “Paganism 101”, which is used across the denomination, and recently completed her master’s degree in “Myth, Cosmology, and the Sacred” at the University of Canterbury in the UK.
Read the full testimonial.
Reverend Laura Imayoshi
Rev. Imayoshi was raised attending the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. She did her undergraduate work in Religious Studies at UBC and her post graduate work at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. Laura trained extensively with the Faithful Fools, an interfaith street ministry in San Francisco. She brought their humour, wisdom and inspiration to Vancouver to start serving in the streets as a Unitarian community minister.
What is Laura’s Ministry?
Rev. Laura Imayoshi has worked with this congregation since 2004, and was ordained here in 2007. Her ministry is about creating meaningful connections between people. She serves in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, working to build bridges of sharing and understanding between the Downtown Eastside and the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.
Rev. Imayoshi’s ministry has been formally endorsed by the Unitarian Church of Vancouver but she is not paid or employed by the church.
What Is Community Ministry?
In the Thick of Things
A community minister is one who has chosen to build community by working in the community rather than in a parish church. There are four community ministries in Canada, of which two are in the greater Vancouver area.
Community ministry is about taking the values, principles, experience, questioning, and thoughtfulness of Unitarian Universalism and moving outside of the walls of the church. Community ministers work wherever they are passionate – in hospitals as chaplains, building community gardens, working for legislative change, building a peace movement, running a homeless shelter… the possibilities are as diverse as the people in our congregations.
Unitarians have a rich history of community ministry. One of Vancouver’s community ministers is Reverend Laura Imayoshi.
I found a spiritual place where values lived at the center
I am a UBC Student studying cognitive psychology and moral philosophy. Very soon, I will be doing a combined Masters/PhD in social attention and ethical decision-making using virtual reality technology.
I stumbled on UCV a couple of years ago when I went searching for a farm market near my home on Oak. At the time, UCV had a little farm market and advertised on the website.
I had never heard the word "Unitarian" and had no idea what the church stood for but I was intrigued by messages of inclusivity: from the rainbow scarf worn by the minister to the Unitarian principles about the inherent worth and dignity of all people, democratic respect for our community and protection of the planet.
I was feeling very isolated at the time, and struggling to make social media (the church of my generation) create the type of community and social sharing I needed it to be. I had a hunch that what was missing from my online social world was a feeling of responsibility and service. Facebook wasn't asking me to do hard work. The hard conversations I was having were with those who looked and sounded like me. And most importantly, there was no showing up in real life. I wasn't getting any feedback that I was valuable to my community. The "likes" to my perfect politically correct take-downs of injustice felt so hollow and ineffective. Most of my social interactions were missing this crucial component of "living in community" which is a messy, uncomfortable, diverse, collaborative, real process.
I have always been a deeply curious person, and also extremely distrustful of doctrine or claims of ontological certainty. I walked into Sunday service extremely "on guard" for anything remotely prescriptive-religious.
The first sermon I attended was about Helen Keller riding a bicycle. Rev. Steven Epperson incorporated some feminist history of bicycle riding and a general, hopeful message about knowing courage. I walked away feeling spiritually nourished. My academic brain was buzzing. I wanted to tell all my friends that I had found a spiritual place where values lived at the center and everything else - specific beliefs were adjacent within the value of free and open exploration - an invitation to be spiritually curious on your own terms.
It took me a while to join the church officially but I finally reached out to the environment team. I am now a member of the caretaking staff and I am a newly active member of the Zero Waste team!
I am organizing weekly Stitch n' Bitch gatherings (think: unapologetically drinking, talking and knitting at an east van beer bar) and monthly slow fashion mending workshops where anyone can come to repair or alter their thrifted or worn clothing using hobby machines and sergers, etc.
I am feeling around for my activism through our church but I have boundless gratitude to the people gathered here, who accept me in this space and offer me guidance and belonging. I am here to reciprocate.
Latest project: a film about the Roedde family filmed at Roedde House Museum
Many of you may know that I am a Vancouver actress and producer. A fellow actress friend of mine and I are making a short film and we would appreciate your help. The gist of the film is that it is a beautiful ode to an often unrecognized family that shaped modern Vancouver.We want it to serve as an educational benefit for generations to come. It's based on a real life German family, the Roeddes, who immigrated to Vancouver in the 1890s and played a huge part in the establishment of the West End.Some of you might know the Roedde House museum on Barclay St. That's the house they lived in and where we will be filming! Our female-led creative team and cast will bring this never-before dramatized cultural gem to the screen.
Short films are challenging to make and period films add an extra level of difficulty, but we’re up for the challenge! Any and all financial contributions would go towards paying cast and crew for their time and dedication, for essential gear, costumes and crafty.
If you know people who might be interested in (and maybe supporting) this project, please share this link with your friends and family!
We’re so excited to make this film the best it can be and do justice to the Roedde’s legacy.
How I came to be a Unitarian
I was first introduced to the UU church and faith by a dear World Federalist colleague and long-time Unitarian who thought, given my love for being curious, asking questions, meeting interesting people and being open to new ideas, that I would find a home here.
The first service by Rev. Epperson he talked about climate change and politics. Having been raised all over the world and having been exposed to many religions and faiths I had not found any of them to be nearly as insightful, compassionate, all-encompassing as the Unitarian one seemed to be.
Soon thereafter I became involved with the lunch service, gardening and Messy Church groups and loved every moment I spent with the friendly, warm and ever so embracing Unitarians I had the pleasure of meeting.
Two years after I had been formally involved with the UU Church I was asked what it felt like to be a formal UU member to which I asked, “There is a formal membership?” I thought I was already a member given how fondly and fully I had been welcomed. I then realized I had not ‘signed the book’ to become a member. Luckily the very next week there was a member welcoming ceremony. I reached out to Rev. Epperson and joined him at his office to have the most wonderful 2+hour chat with him about what UU is, how it got started and what it means. I was even more hooked and sold on the UU message and vision! I then signed ‘the book’ and of course took a selfie doing so as it was a momentous occasion that I was very proud of: I was officially a UU member.
Since then I have kept helping out in the kitchen with Love Soup and Refugee Committee Lunch services, in the garden when needed and with Messy Church. I have also had the pleasure of becoming a youth mentor and part of the religious education Sunday workshop facilitating committee. So, that is my UU background.
In terms of my personal background that is a story in and of itself. I’ll keep it brief and if you ever want me to elaborate I will do so gladly so come find me and we can chat! But for now, here goes: I am a graduate of Political Science and International Relations from the University of British Columbia, focusing on international sustainability and development. My eclectic background is echoed in my love of cultures and languages. I speak English, Japanese, Spanish and moderate French. I’m an avid volunteer since young and am currently involved with six organizations other than the UU church including as a volunteer coast guard, wildlife rehabilitator for the Wildlife Rescue Association, volunteer and event organizer for Leadnow, a docent at Roedde House Museum and the Vancouver branch President of the World Federalist Movement Canada, among others.
In addition to my activism I am a working actress and a triathlete and lover of all thing outdoors and can often be found hiking, trail running, doing yoga or running along the seawalls of beautiful Vancouver which I have proudly called my home for over 15 years. In whatever spare time I can muster I love practicing guitar, sketching and tap dancing, singing and meditating. That’s all for now folks. Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing and/or meeting you at our UU home.
Following our children led us to the Unitarians
In February 2016, my husband Ralph and I retired and moved from New York to Vancouver. We left our friends, family, church, and colleagues and sold the house we had lived in for 40 years to follow our children (and first grandchild) west. Our daughter and daughter-in-law had attended UCV, and Kathryn Roback performed their wedding ceremony at the Radha yoga centre and vegan restaurant in 2009. As newcomers, we needed a community and UCV seemed like a good place to start.
Following where our children lead has always been a good policy, and joining this church is no exception. We love attending Sunday morning services, where we invariably learn something new about the natural world, history, social issues, famous Unitarians, and much more. And there’s always beautiful music – especially when the choir is singing.
As a member of the Worship Services Committee, I’ve discovered how much thought and planning goes into every service. Ralph signed up for the Welcome Committee and will be greeting folks and handing out bulletins on Sundays. If you don’t see us in our usual pew, it’s probably because we’ve gone to Southern California to visit our younger daughter’s family. (They attend a small UU church in Aliso Viejo.)
As the announcements promise, a lot goes on at UCV – and not only on Sunday mornings. I’ve missed my garden since trading our suburban house for an East Van condo; working on the grounds committee and labyrinth has let me keep on digging, planting, and weeding. I also attend the monthly potluck book and lunch where we discuss and swap books old and new.
Ralph and I enjoy getting to know other members while attending dinners, concerts, forums, and other special programs, as well as participating in civic events as church members. We recently joined the climate action march where we met up with several UCVers, although, thanks to the enormous crowd, we never did find the Environment Committee folks with the church banner.
Since moving here we’ve been blessed with two more grandchildren, one here and one in California--where another is on the way in January. We became permanent residents of Canada this March, and we’re determined to explore as much of this beautiful province as our grandparenting schedule allows. Coming to Vancouver has changed our lives in ways we never could have foreseen—all good—and this church, and the friendly people who are part of it, have helped make us feel this is where we belong.
Dine and dance with Mary!
When I jokingly made a new year's resolution to become spiritually developed and have matching towels, I had no idea where that would lead. Read the full testimonial.
I have found people who ‘speak my language’
“What are you curious about?” my coach asked at the beginning of 2019 and then suggested I follow that query to see where it would lead. And so, I began noticing what sparked my curiosity.
Growing up on a farm, I felt an early, deep sense of connection with the natural world and her cycles and rhythyms. Living non-urbanly for most of my life kept my connection to nature strong and vibrant but living in the city had dulled this awareness.
So, getting curious again, I searched the web for nature-based spirituality in Vancouver and was delighted to find the monthly Earth Spirit Circle gatherings and Paganism 101 course at UCV.
Within these groups, I discovered people who use earth based and pagan practices in their lives to explore the magic and mystery of the cosmos as well as use ritual to tap into unseen realities and contribute to positive personal and societal change. It is comforting to feel that I have found people who ‘speak my language’ even if our dialects and idioms may vary.
I invite you to come to an Earth Spirit Circle gathering. We’re a welcoming, fun bunch and you might just find yourself curious about new ways to honour the divine in yourself, in nature, and throughout the cosmos.
Blessings to you and yours,