Category: Families

Articles of interest to current and prospective families e.g. Hogwarts summer camp, Mystery pal program, changes to Messy Church, First Sundays etc.

Mystery Pal Update May 2021

We’re all a little tired of hearing “This year will be different…”

It certainly applies to our Mystery Pal program.

This  program matches up two individuals from different “generations”–which could mean a 40-year old with an 80-year-old or a 5-year-old with a 22-year old (or 13-year-old since “generations” are a bit different for the very young!)

In previous years, each  Sunday for a month, both partners brought mail and left in their “mail slot” (paper bag) in Hewett Centre.

This year, most of the 14 pairs are sending mail by Canada Post. To keep identity secret, they mail to UCV and Kiersten mails out anonymously just using the “codename” for the pair. Now we realize of course, that the postal service lag means that the exchanges will likely be every two weeks, so a partner can receive mail and then respond.

This necessarily slows down the process, but the good news is we believe everyone has received at least one letter in the mail by now (and the email pals are already emailing up a storm–they go to Mary Bennett and then are forwarded).

More good news (we hope) is that the current public health regulations will be changed after the May long weekend. We (Kiersten and Mary) are hoping that on the last weekend in May or early June, we might be able to have a modified in-person “Reveal Party” such as arranging people in smaller groups of 10-15 to meet or even staggering pairs to meet. Masked and outdoors, we hope will be possible for at least 10 at a time.

Mary will be setting up an ATC (Artist Trading Card) sharing/trading station and we’ll do some other outdoor games and activities.

As one family put it, we’re *really* hoping for “anything but zoom!!”  But we’ll have to see!

 

You can send suggestions and questions to ucvconnect@gmail.com

Mystery Pals Deluxe 2021

Tangible Connection and a Break from Monotony

I feel a great desire for spring, for unplugging, for tangible connections to people. Zoom and video calls help me connect with people far away, but boy am I missing people’s prescence! How about some old-fashioned letter writing? It’s the time of year when we roll out Mystery Pals letter exchange for children, youth, and adults of all ages.  Some wonderful friendships and connections across generations have been made through this annual event–and if you haven’t tried it out yet, I encourage you to sign up!

This year we are forming a small organizing team to spice up our exchanges. Each Pal mails their letters to UCV and we send it on with Artist Trading Cards, art or activity prompts, or poetry slipped in.

Who?

Anyone age 4-104 can participate if you have regularly attended the Unitarian Church of Vancouver for six months or more, are known by someone in our church leadership (RE Director, Minister, Board, or committee member, small group leader), and can commit to exchanging weekly letters throughout April by Canada post (envelopes and stamps supplied.) 

When?

April is the month of mail exchange and early May is our Reveal Party where you find out who exactly your Pal is. The reveal party will be facilitated in whatever way is deemed safe at the time–either a zoom party or outdoors if public health allows.

How?

Sign-up with our Breeze form at https://ucv.im/pals by March 15th.

Kiersten and our Pals team will match folks up and assign each Pal pair a famous Unitarian to identify with. You will receive a Letter Writing Kit with addressed envelopes, stamps, and paper at the end of March to get you started. Write an introductory letter to your Pal, mail it to the church and it will be sent on. Watch your mailbox for a response and keep exchanging letters throughout April.

Imagination Month for Kids and Families

Kiersten is currently on a well-deserved break. As she puts it, “I’ve put down every ball I had up in the air.”

So here are some ideas and invitations to be part of our various programs for kids, youth and families. And first a chalice lighting for this month:

May the light of this chalice, spark our imaginations.

May it lead us back to the stories and characters

that romp and roam the corridors of our minds.

In the warmth of this chalice, may we remember again

how thankful we are to have others who love us,

and guide and accompany us, as our own stories unfold.

The Soul Matters theme for January is Imagination — so watch out! or better still, dive in!

If you’d like to receive the package for families, please let Kiersten know.

December saw a flurry of activities in the kids, youth and family programs.

The highlight might have been the Winter Solstice play. The kids tell me the hardest part was the two minutes of sitting silently.

For me, that was also the most moving part.

Kiersten did an amazing job of writing, casting and directing.

As well, though programs on zoom happened regularly coordinated by Olivia, our youth coordinator, volunteers including Mairy and Nan and the Tween ukulele group with Donna Brown.

UCV and our young people are always a fount of imagination. What could possibly happen when we actually focus our attention on that theme for the whole month?

 

Can you imagine yourself as part of the extensive team who plan, facilitate or support programs for our kids and families?

I’ve taken on a role to assist with communications and especially multigenerational activities and I can tell you it’s very nourishing and Kiersten is a dream to work with. It’s a sincere pleasure to support her and therefore support our families and the broader congregation.

For a list of kids, youth and family programs with contact and date/time, click here.

by Mary Bennett

 

Multigen Documentary History Club

  • Mary Bennett

Like many in the congregation I’ve been a big fan of the Encountering Our Ancestors worship services that Rev. Steven Epperson researched, wrote and directed over many years.

It was a very rich experience for me to research Dr. Sheilah Thompson’s “life and times” and share in the 2020 service.

Ever since Steven announced his retirement I’ve wanted to get a group together to continue learning together about our Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian-Universalist ancestors and to carry on this tradition. This offering was a unique one from Steven who was a historian, as well as a minister and was adept at writing scripts. If we happened to get a minister who wanted to be involved, well, that would be great, but imho unlikely.

There are many options for how the “performance” part would be presented in future–in collaboration with the minister and worship service.  The research, writing and learning would be put to good use whatever form is decided on for the sharing with the congregation.

Steven gifted us with his significant and substantial work and it may be that over time, we would find the resources to organize, copy-edit, publish his work, perhaps with additional materials by UCV members and youth. Perhaps even to video-record performances to share with other UUs and congregations.

I envision us meeting (whether in person, video conference or just an email exchange) monthly over the coming year. We would start out very organically by sharing our interests and being very flexible about participation and contributions. For instance, some people may be interested in the role of being cast as a performer to deliver a script written by someone else; others may be interested in doing research. Many possible roles are possible.

Even though other than the actors, Steven did all the rest himself, I think we need a team. As an educator and lifelong learner I also want to make it explicit that a key outcome is the learning along the way. While the focus of the Encountering our Ancestors service might provide a goal, I believe there will be many conversations along the way that will be rich within themselves.

Does this sound interesting to you or your family or Coming of Age pair?

For now I am “calling the circle” as a first step in creating a UU Multigen History Club.

Note the Coming of Age journal includes lists of Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian Universalist ancestors. We could start exploring that list and seeing how many of those people already have a script created by Steven.

We might as part of a video-conference do readings to share with each other. Costumes and wigs encouraged but not required.

I’m hoping we can continue the discussion on a SLACK workspace.

Here’s a link to a questionnaire on our Breeze database to gauge interest.

(coming)

Or just send me an email telling me more about your interest: why you’re interested and, if you know already, what aspects of creation are likely t be the focus of your contributions.

Here’s a link about documentary theatre, that you may find of interest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_theatre

Children and Youth RE Fall Update

Our Youth are very busy this year, many of you will have heard directly from them this past Sunday. This amazing, resilient, group of young people continue to meet for two hours each Sunday and run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign on Wednesday nights.

Children and Youth RE Fall Update

by Kiersten E. Moore


(more…)

Outreach Opportunities Fund: Treehouse

The Outreach Opportunities Fund recipient for the September 2020 -January 2021 period is The Treehouse Vancouver Child and Youth Advocacy Centre which has formed a multi-disciplinary team to intervene in and prevent child abuse and violence. The team comprises staff from VPD and three child and youth care agencies.
Its’ programs and services build networks and community support systems that promote safe and sustainable environments for children, youth and their families. A critical goal of the centre is to raise awareness of child abuse in Vancouver.

More about our financial support for organizations

Coming of Age Orientation night – One mentor’s perspective

To This I Give My Heart: Coming of Age Orientation

One mentor’s perspective

by Mary Bennett

Seven mentors and seven youth (mentees) gathered in Hewett Centre on Sunday, September 20th, most in person and another 4 via zoom, to begin a year-long journey of getting to know each other. Olivia Hall, youth coordinator, and Kiersten Moore, DRE, facilitated an evening of games and conversations, some one-on-one and some in the whole group. The photo shows us playing “All my friends and neighbours…”

We had a couple of introductory exercises, the first included: what pet would you have if you could have any pet at all (including imaginary ones). Responses included elephants, monkeys, octopuses as well as dogs and cats and one person said, “No thanks. I don’t want a pet.”  

Then we paired off with our partner and were asked to come up with the one thing we would choose if we got to name something to help save humanity. I expect other pairs had the same kind of free-ranging conversation that my partner and I had. The final results were intriguing: phytoplankton; the internet, Steven Spielberg’s computer, fresh air…  What would you choose? Get ready for the zombie apocalypse now in case you’re asked.. 

Each pair will meet on their own once a month. As well as having a bit of fun together, our mission is to  work through the Coming of Age journals* we were given. 

When asked to share what we hoped to get from the program, there were responses of friendship and learning. After the broad concepts, one mentor said,  I just want to get to know my mentee better. The mentee beamed. 

While leaving the hall, a friend said to me: “Who’s the mentor and who’s the mentee? These young folx are so interesting and interested, the hardest part for us adults may be to keep up.”

For myself, I see my role as being a bridge between our religion and this one young person. I’m looking forward to exploring our history especially as my mentee is interested in history. 

Often the young people write their own Credo (statement of belief) and may present to the congregation. If my mentee chooses to do this, I can be a coach and/or cheerleader. Speaking to the congregation, I believe, is an honour and a challenge, an opportunity I have personally appreciated very much and grown from.

Next month, there might be a post by another participant, or a pair, from this program so you can have a glimpse about how it evolves.

 

Family Zoom – join any Sunday at noon

from Mary Bennett

Although many children’s programs (and Kiersten!) are on vacation right now, there’s now a team to make sure there’s a kid-focused space during coffee hour every Sunday as a breakout room during virtual coffee hour. Myself, Sandy, Catherine and Meaghan take turns facilitating, often with a few conversation starters or an activity, but as often just a willingness to meet our kids where they are. Kids often do a show-and-tell with some artwork or tell us about something they did that week. And we love hearing that.

On the first Sunday of each month, we especially like to provide a chance for Mystery Pals to check in with each other.  We hope some pairs might want to use the chance to have a breakout room of their own to check-in, whether for 5 minutes or more.  They can do a quick check-in and then return to the main session if they want.
The Family breakout room will still be there for any of you, whether or not you’ve been a mystery pal.

In other news, if you missed Sunday’s service, do check it out with link from main page vancouverunitarians.ca  Until Saturday only it includes the kids’ play and Rose reading the Connections are made slowly poem. The procedures UCV is now using is that the greetings are edited out immediately after the service, and then after a week (6 days actually) everything except for the sermon is removed. Contact Marie, chair of communications team, at communications@vancouverunitarians.ca if you have any questions about the procedures.

The next mystery pal program will start up as usual in spring 2021 (we assume), but in the meantime, I’d really encourage you to find some way to connect with past pals if possible. If you need contact information, you can contact the administator or office assistant Monday to Friday. If it’s urgent, ask me.  info@vancouverunitarians.ca 604-261-7204. If you want a directory of members and friends either hardcopy, pdf or Breeze database access, Aurora or Marcus can help with that.

Labyrinth picnic anyone?

Some of the kids have enjoyed our garden path labyrinth at 49th and Oak. I enjoyed visiting it briefly when I was there this past Sunday (for the first time in four and a half months).  Once this heat wave passes, I’d love to meet with a few of you to walk, play (and weed!) the labyrinth. Drop me a note if that would be of interest. We’d socially distance of course, but there’s a lot of space there to spread out.

Some links you might find of interest:

Last week’s service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4J_jD52taU&feature=youtu.be
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Vancouver.Unitarian.CYRE/
Covid-19 Plan for UCV site: https://vancouverunitarians.ca/ucv-covid-19-go-slowly-forward-plan/

Note the Main hall can be used for up to 20 people by arrangement with the office in advance. Details on procedures can be found at that link.

I will likely send regular notes about what’s coming up for Family Zoom (and anything else I might know and think you’d want to know too).  You’re not obligated to read everything (LOL!) and if you don’t want to receive at all, just let me know.

If you did not receive this message via email and want to receive them in future, please just let me know.

connect@vancouverunitarians.ca

Two poems for Steven

Some of you have asked about the poems I read for Steven’s final service, so here they are in print.

As some have remarked, it’s ironic that the poem of welcome from 2002 seems more complete now in 2020 when Steven has departed. Only now do we feel how fully welcome he was and is.

In my poem of farewell, I was reflecting on the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, and the transience of all that we know, including Steven’s time with us, and I wanted to pay tribute to Steven’s annual sermons on science, which ranged from microscopic to galactic in their perspective. So Unitarian in their outlook! I had recently been reading about gamma ray bursts, one received reportedly from a source 12.8 billion light years away from earth, and so the oldest phenomenon humans have detected so far.

A long and interesting journey indeed! The great miracle, the great mystery of which we are a living part, and to which Steven helped us bear witness.

I wrote a second poem of farewell for Steven, too, which may be part of the printed package that was given to him. It’s a bit more complicated so I didn’t read it for the farewell service, but I may post it here sometime in the future. It’s a discussion of farewell, so long, and goodbye and has a particular slant on why “g’b’y” might be the right thing for us to say to Steven, which is what I said at the end of this farewell poem– “G’b’y Steven!”

(The featured image is a detail from a 1989 artwork by long-time UCV member, the late Daphne Naegele, titled “Many suns do not penetrate the darkness”.)

A poem of welcome

on the occasion of Reverend Doctor Steven Epperson’s installation as Parish Minister at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 13 October 2002.

 

The welcome we give today is not the welcome we will give tomorrow
for the Guest tomorrow will be known more deeply
and our welcome will be more complete.

Each day our welcome will be larger
and deeper than the day before
and never finished in its giving.

 

A poem of farewell

on the occasion of Reverend Doctor Steven Epperson’s departure as Parish Minister from the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 21 June 2020.

 

Our time together
has reached its end.
Cosmos has shifted
and still does just what it wants
and still incorporates us.

And if comets or gamma-ray bursts
had eyes and poetic sensibilities,
what would they tell us
about their long and
interesting journeys?

G’b’y Steven!

YoUUth Summer Virtual Adventure

This is of particular note to Unitarian/UU youth entering grades 6-12, their parents, and advisors. We want your input!

Unitarian youth in BC have historically been very connected to the UU youth in the Pacific Northwest Region of the United States. Although there is an international border, geographically we are much closer to the many congregations in Washington and Oregon than we are to the rest of Canada; there are also enough of them to create some truly wonderful programs. We go to their Cons, youth leadership schools, and family camps.

This April there were two Virtual Cons held by the Pacific Northwest district (Washington/Oregon/etc.) and the Mountain district (Montana/Colorado/etc.). The youth and adult staff worked very hard and creatively and both Cons were well received with positive feedback.  Since all in-person gatherings of UU’s have been cancelled for the summer, Pacific Western Regional staff (PWR) are working to create a week of Virtual gathering/learning/playing/celebrating online this summer.  These Cons, and leadership camps are transformative and uplifting spaces to gather in as Unitarian youth, and I encourage our BC youth to participate if you can.

All youth, parents, and youth advisors interested in PWR’s youth summer virtual adventure are invited to fill out this form to help inform planning–and to be kept informed.

Happy (Virtual) Trails!
–Kiersten