News from the parish minister, director of religious education and other staff or key volunteer leaders.
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- November 3, 2020 UCV November E-Bulletin Correction
- November 3, 2020 Corrected UCV E-Bulletin November 2020
- November 2, 2020 UCV E-Bulletin November 2020
- October 1, 2020 UCV E-Bulletin October 2020
- September 2, 2020 UCV E-Bulletin September 2020
- August 3, 2020 UCV E-Bulletin August 2020
- July 2, 2020 UCV E-Bulletin July 2020
- May 28, 2020 Vancouver Unitarians E-Bulletin for June 2020
- May 16, 2020 CUC May 2020
- April 29, 2020 Connect and Engage May, 2020
- April 11, 2020 Connect and Engage April 11, 2020
- April 4, 2020 Connect and Engage April 4, 2020
- March 28, 2020 Connect and Engage with Vancouver Unitarians
- March 20, 2020 Connect and Engage with Vancouver Unitarians
- February 26, 2020 Earth Spirituality and Environment Gatherings
- February 7, 2020 February - Environment and Earth Spirituality News from UCV
- December 30, 2019 The Light Returns
- December 28, 2019 New Year Vancouver Unitarians
- December 16, 2019 Reminder: Yule Celebration this Thursday
- November 29, 2019 Hello December--Welcome Solstice!
- November 1, 2019 The veil is thin--our ancestors are visiting this Sunday
- October 30, 2019 Connect and Engage November
- October 11, 2019 Autumnal Unitarian Earth Spirit Gatherings
- October 2, 2019 OCTOBER Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- September 23, 2019 FALL 2019 Social Responsibility and Environment News from UCV
- August 31, 2019 SEPTEMBER Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- August 23, 2019 Unitarian Earth Spirit Gatherings
- July 30, 2019 AUGUST Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- July 9, 2019 Our Labyrinths - Past, Present and Future
- June 26, 2019 JULY Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- June 19, 2019 Midsummer Earth Spirit Gatherings
- June 2, 2019 JUNE Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- May 17, 2019 SUMMER 2019 Social Responsibility and Environment News from UCV
- May 7, 2019 Celebrate Beltane Tonight with Flower Crowns and Maypole Dancing
- May 1, 2019 MAY Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- April 23, 2019 World Labyrinth Day is May 4 - Join us!
- April 10, 2019 Earth Spirit Events from Vancouver Unitarians
- April 1, 2019 APRIL Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- March 22, 2019 Music and Arts News from UCV
- February 28, 2019 MARCH Newsletter from Vancouver Unitarians
- February 24, 2019 Happy Ostara from Vancouver Unitarians
- February 2, 2019 Happy Imbolc from Vancouver Unitarians
- January 29, 2019 Vancouver Unitarians FEBRUARY Monthly Newsletter
- January 15, 2019 January 2019 Social Responsibility and Environment News from UCV
- January 10, 2019 Jan-Feb Earth Spirit Events at Unitarian Centre
- January 3, 2019 Vancouver Unitarians JANUARY Monthly Newsletter
- December 12, 2018 Earth Spirit Events at Unitarian Centre
- November 26, 2018 Music and Arts News from UCV
- November 15, 2018 Social Responsibility and Environment News from UCV
- November 3, 2018 Vancouver Unitarians NOVEMBER Monthly Newsletter
- October 31, 2018 November Earth Spirit Events at Unitarian Centre
- October 15, 2018 OCTOBER Labyrinth News from 49th & Oak
- October 6, 2018 Vancouver Unitarians OCTOBER Monthly Newsletter
- September 7, 2018 AUTUMN Labyrinth News from 49th & Oak
- September 3, 2018 Vancouver Unitarians SEPTEMBER Monthly Newsletter
- August 21, 2018 September Earth Spirit Events at Unitarian Centre
- August 3, 2018 Vancouver Unitarians AUGUST Monthly Newsletter
- July 30, 2018 August Earth Spirit Events at Unitarian Centre
- July 9, 2018 Vancouver Unitarians JULY Monthly Newsletter
- June 16, 2018 Labyrinth News from 49th & Oak
- June 12, 2018 Upcoming Earth Spirit Events at Unitarian Centre
- June 2, 2018 Vancouver Unitarians Monthly Newsletter
Reverend Epperson submitted the following letter to several newspapers. It is posted here for interested members of the congregation.
Proportional representation leads to more fair and inclusive government
By Reverend Steven Epperson, Unitarian Church of Vancouver
I want to add my support to those individuals and groups, including the BC Conference of The United Church of Canada, in their endorsement for the proportional representation (PR) option in the electoral reform referendum in British Columbia. Advocacy for the practice of “the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large” has been a bedrock principle of the Unitarian religious tradition throughout its nearly 500 year-long history.
Under our current First Past the Post (FPTP)—or “winner-take-all” voting system—the party with the most seats can form a government even if it received a minority of the popular vote. That means, in effect, that political parties win 100 per cent of governing power, even if they received only 40 per cent or less of the vote. Thus 60 plus percent of votes are disregarded, an outcome which can foster resentment and alienation – as was well noted by former Liberal premier Christy Clark in 2009.
The main change, which is found in all three PR options in our ballots, is that the percentage of votes should bring the percentage of seats. It is basic common sense, apart from some details of process, and the bedrock principle is sound. That is why about 90 other democracies in the world use PR, including Commonwealth entities such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
This topic should not be a partisan one – although regrettably it has become so – because all the B.C. parties have suffered unjustly under the FPTP system (such as the B.C. Liberals in 1996). The “No to PR” campaign mostly uses negative attacks on the referendum process instead of defending its electoral status quo, raising the question: Is it able to?
The No campaign slogan hails FPTP as “Simple, Stable and Successful.” Where is any mention of democracy there? Too often the most “simple” and “stable” systems are autocracies. And “successful”—for whom, exactly? The majority of voters, or for those like the “No” side which condescendingly – and wrongly – asserts that PR is “too complex and confusing,” and resorts to video ads of goose-stepping soldiers to confuse and scare B.C. voters? This last outcome would be prevented by the PR rule that fringe parties must gain at least five percent of the vote, while their combined total is now usually at less than one percent. In fact, the greater inclusivity of the PR system may assist in reconciliation with our aboriginal peoples.
People often express to me their astonishment over the US voting system with its anti-democratic, antiquated Electoral College that enabled the current president to win despite winning 2.8 million fewer votes than his rival. Isn’t our own FPTP, winner-take-all voting system – designed in 13th century Britain to fit a two party system – similarly antiquated?
Think of how our federal Conservatives in 1988, with 43 percent of the popular vote, formed a “majority” government and then rammed the Free Trade Agreement through Parliament, despite being opposed by parties supported by 57 percent of the population. In a different FPTP twist, here in B.C., think of how the Liberals won 58 per cent of the vote in 2001—a majority to be sure—yet they gained every legislative seat except two because of FPTP. This left the province with no official opposition for four years. Such results could happen again under the old system.
I worry about the long-term effects of FPTP’s winner-take-all politics on our young people and future generations. If having voted with a majority, their votes are then disregarded as a result of our FPTP system leading to “false majority” governments, they will feel that their votes are wasted; they may understandably conclude they are in effect disenfranchised, and wonder: why bother to vote at all?
Let us learn about different electoral systems and refuse patronizing claims that these are “too complex” for us to understand. Trustworthy information is available in the Elections BC booklets and website. The four options in the referendum are also explained in your ballot package. Moreover, if voters do not like how a new PR system works out in practice, you can vote to reverse it in the second B.C. referendum, that is, you can “try it before you buy it.”
I will be voting for Proportional Representation. It is a step on Canada’s path to political maturity, and towards a more fair, inclusive and accountable government.
Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson
Unitarian Church of Vancouver
949 West 49th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 2T1
United Church of Canada, BC Conference Statement
Science and Religion Sermon
Rev. Epperson has preached a sermon on science and its insights that challenge and nourish our religion for the first Sunday in Advent. Always well-researched and thought-provoking, here are some examples.
- November 27 – Advent 2016 – The Important Stuff Is Invisible (428.1 KiB)
- 1 Dec 2013 – The Advent Of Us – How We Became Human (116.3 KiB)
- 25 Nov 2012 – The View From The Centre Of The Universe – Part 1 (130.8 KiB)
- 2 Dec 2012 – The View From The Centre Of The Universe – Part 2 (123.4 KiB)
- 28 Nov 2004 – Life From The Oceans (27.7 KiB)
First Advent Sunday Services 2002-17
2003 Birth of the Moon
2004 Life from the Seas
2005 Plate Tectonics
2006 Size of the Universe/Sea of Knowledge
2007 Cell: Smallest Living Thing
2008 The Astonishing Atom
2010 The Feeling Brain
2011 Teenage Brain
2012 View from the Center of the Universe
2013 The Advent of Us: How We Became Human
2014 On Human Consciousness and Goodness
2015 A Dangerous “Advent?”
2016 The Important Stuff is Invisible
2017 The Invention of Air
A Celebration of the Life of the Rev. Dr. Phillip Hewett, Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, will be held at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, March 23, 2018, beginning at 1:30 pm. A reception will follow the service.
Please join me at the anti-racism rally at City Hall this Saturday sponsored by Stand Up to Racism Metro Vancouver. The rally begins at 12:45 pm.
Some thought on “False Equivalence” (Rev. Steven Epperson)
Given what many of us have been reading/seeing in the media this past week regarding events in Charlottesville, Virginia , I wanted to share some thoughts. On Tuesday, August 15th, the sitting President of the United States said: “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.” Subsequently, I’ve read the expression “false equivalence” to describe his remarks.
When I hear the expression “false equivalence,” the first thing that comes to mind is messed up ways of thinking/reasoning. False equivalence is a mistaken belief that since two very different things (or arguments) may share a common trait that means they are basically similar/equal.
1) A dog race is about to start. The two hounds running (a greyhound and a dachshund) are equal favorites to win. Ridiculous? Yes. That’s false equivalence at work where sharing a trait—dogs that are hounds—means there are no other essential differences between them. Under false equivalence, each has an equal chance to win the race.
2) “Gang bangers cover their heads with hoodies. Nuns cover their heads with habits. Therefore, nuns are no better than gang bangers.” Just because both cover their heads does not necessarily mean they are equally as likely to rob a gas station at gunpoint.
3) Racism says other races are essentially different. Anti-racism says other races are not essentially different. False equivalence states both are absolutist claims. Therefore, there is no difference between them. Put simply, this mistaken way of thinking/arguing claims apples and oranges are the same fruit simply because they both have seeds.
Examples of false equivalence are seemingly without end (e.g. “creationism and evolution both explain how we got here, so teach both sides,” etc, etc.). False equivalence is contributing to a slippery world of BS and “truthiness.” In fact, far-right protesters went to Charlottesville primed for violence in word and act; most counter-protesters adopted an entirely defensive posture. An adult should know the difference.
Let’s value and use our Unitarian Principle of a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning;” that search means knowing there’s a difference between an apple and an orange, a neo-Nazi and an antifascist, and that the difference means something; that it matters.
An Invitation from Rev. Steven Epperson to UCV members and friends:
Hewett Hall, Saturday, November 12, 2016 6-8:30 pm
Given the outcome of the elections in the States on Tuesday, and the thoughts and feelings many of us may be experiencing, I thought it would be helpful to gather for some food and conversation. Bring a dish to share and your good selves. I will be there and glad to be in the company of any and all who wish to show up.
In the meantime, some thoughts borrowed from Bruce Levine that my partner shared with our Stateside families:
Though dark thoughts, feelings and tears are reasonable responses to difficult circumstances and horrible news, there are other strategies we can bring forward: a thoughtful detachment in order to see, understand and to bear witness a dark sense of humour collective resistance and cooperation kindness to fellow sufferers and savour those moments of respite that come by focusing on the beauties of nature, and on our children and grandchildren.
My best to all on this grey, drizzly Wednesday morning. Steven Epperson
It may look like a hymnal, this book of ours sitting in the racks in front of you when you come to Sunday service; a book full of “songs of praise, especially to God in Christian worship,” according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. But open it up, and what we’ll see is a commitment to religious pluralism in one song and reading after another. Christian hymns and carols are followed by Islamic poetry; there are songs of harvest and the seasons, and the wisdom of Jewish mystics and Psalms. Buddhist sages are here; so, too, the insights of science and reason; hymns in praise of labouring folk, the interdependent web, and prophetic activists struggling for environmental and social justice. A whole, great, teeming congregation of wisdom from the world’s religions, poets and secular sources is gathered here. We turn to these hymns, this poetry and prose to celebrate our history and belief and to accompany us in times of grief and joy.
All too often our world divides up into grim, distressed religious and secular camps. And because of that, I believe that ours is a crucial experiment. Unitarians seek to practice a frank, respectful cohabitation of plural sensibilities, rituals and ways of being in community. We hope that what follows will be a mutually enriching dialogue, where we learn from and strive to support one another in our search for meaning and spiritual growth. And not for a moment should we forget how important an experiment a pluralistic faith like ours could be for a troubled and divided world.