Category: Governance

News and reports from the Board of Trustees, Board Committees and Task Forces.

Healthy Relations Checklist from the Decision-Making Task Force (DMTF Weekly Lesson #1)

Healthy Relations Checklist

*Note: these are recommendations from the Decision-Making Task Force and not all are in place as official UCV policy.

  • Do we have a recently reviewed and affirmed congregational Covenant of Healthy Relations*?
  • Is the Covenant posted prominently in UCV’s physical spaces, and easily located on the website?
  • Do all committees, task forces, and other groups agree to the Covenant as individuals and as groups?
  • Is the Covenant reviewed periodically, and is there a process for considering and incorporating feedback about the Covenant?
  • Are new members asked to review and agree to the Covenant of Healthy Relations?
  • Is there at least one service per year devoted to the Covenant of Healthy Relations?
  • Does the Covenant include a system to track, intervene, and follow up on concerns and conflicts?
  • Is there a process for addressing conduct that does not uphold the Covenant, including recommended actions that bystanders can take?
  • Has a healthy relations advocacy team been established as a consistent presence in the community?

When a big project or decision-making process is undertaken:

  • is there conscious commitment of UCV leaders, project leaders, and congregation members to abide by the Covenant of Healthy Relations throughout the process?
  • are we collectively committed to a healthy process, and do we all collectively commit ourselves to taking individual and collective responsibility for making it work?
  • is a “healthy process” clearly described (and posted/circulated) so that all know what we are committing to?
  • as UCV members, do we put the collective community’s needs over our own personal preferences?
  • do members commit to sharing information that is (and can be confirmed to be) as factually accurate as possible? When errors in information and assumptions have been identified, do members agree that they will withdraw erroneous material?
  • Will the healthy relations team (or delegated members) work alongside the planning team for the duration of big projects with a mandate to help watch for and follow up on possible misunderstandings or disgruntlement? Does this healthy relations team have a protocol for dealing with questions and comments that impugn any person’s character or integrity?
  • Are there opportunities and resources to learn and practice elements of collaborative/ compassionate communication, participatory decision-making, and bystander intervention training?
  • Are values and commitments reviewed in the whole community, both at the start of and during big projects/decisions, as well as in an ongoing way, as part of the life of this community?


*Note: The Covenant of Healthy Relations (COHR), also referred to here as the Covenant, refers to the Covenant of Healthy Relations that was congregationally developed and approved in 2005 and reaffirmed by the Board in 2020, to be distinguished from other UCV covenants developed for specific purposes.

President’s Message

It’s an honour to serve the congregation as president of the Board of Trustees. As per our Bylaws, the Board appointed myself as president and Leslie Hill as vice-president at the Board’s April 19th meeting following the resignation of Mary Bennett as president. Thank you to Leslie for volunteering to fill the vice-president position. Also, a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Mary Bennett for all the contributions she has made and continues to make to our congregation.

This an exciting time of renewal and recommitment for UCV. An impressive group of dedicated members has generously put their names forward for our Ministerial Search Committee. The election closes on May 10th. I encourage all members to read each candidate’s bio and cast your ballot. The entire congregation is proud to have such an inspiring list of dedicated members to choose from.

On behalf of the congregation, I’d also like to express our gratitude to the members who volunteered to serve as part of UCV’s delegation to this year’s Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual General Meeting.  We know your time is valuable and appreciate your willingness to share your time and skills for the betterment of Unitarian Universalists across Canada.

It’s our annual pledge season. Members support the work of our congregation in a myriad of ways, including giving money and, just as importantly, giving of their time, talents, expertise and energy. On behalf of the Board and the entire congregation, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you. For those who make an annual financial contribution and have not increased your pledge for several years, I encourage you to give more this year if possible. Our congregation is doing important, life-changing work and we have a collective ambition to do even more to the benefit our members, our community and our planet. Please do what you can to support the congregation in its important work.

Finally, past-president Diane Brown is leading-up our Nominating Committee for the new Board of Trustees that will be elected at our AGM in November. I encourage both long-time and new members to consider putting their names forward to be part of the new Board and to contact Diane at [email protected] for more information. Serving on the Board is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the good work of our congregation and to help develop and execute UCV’s strategic goals. It can also be a lot of fun. The Board is a safe, supportive place for members to make significant contributions with a lasting effect–consider joining us in this important work.

Yours with respect and gratitude,

Bruce McIvor

[email protected]


Ministerial Search Committee Election

Vancouver Unitarians Ministerial Search Committee Election

April 27-May 10, 2022

As a member of Vancouver Unitarians, you are eligible to vote for seven individuals to serve on our new Ministerial Search Committee. 

Please choose your slate of seven at the following link: (You may select fewer than seven.)

To read the Candidate Bios, visit this page:


How the candidates were selected

There was an open process where every member was invited to submit nominations. Information was circulated in E-news, in printed form on Sundays and via an every-member phone-out. Deadline for nominations was March 28th. On March 30th, the nominations were tallied and those members with the most nominations were contacted and asked if they were willing to serve. On April 13th, a decision was made by the Board Executive to also reach out to non-members who had been nominated to see whether they would like to become a member and have their name on the ballot.

How the election works

The election will take place April 27-May 10. Members are encouraged to use online voting if possible and hard copy ballots are being mailed to those without email addresses. All the votes will be tallied and the four individuals with the most votes will be selected for the Ministerial Search Committee. The UCV Board of Trustees or a designated Board sub-group will select the other three committee members from the list of nominees on this ballot to ensure a diversity of skills, experience, and perspective. The plan is that no one else will know who was voted in and who was selected for the committee.

Did the Board of Trustees have a role in selecting the slate for the ballot?

No. In information circulated to the congregation during the nominations process, a statement was made that the Board would select candidates for the ballot, but this was based on misunderstandings and not correct.

Who developed the ballot?

A mini team with Board members, Gordon Gram and Lynn Armstrong, a representative from the Ministerial Transition Team, Tamiko Suzuki, and a representative from the Nominating Committee, Michael Clague, with advice from Interim Minister, Rev Lara Cowtan, looked after counting the nominations, contacting potential candidates, collecting photos and bios of those willing to serve and finalizing the ballot.

When will results be known?

Results will be announced at the May 15th Sunday gathering at UCV following the online CUC National Service that day. Details will be included in the following E-news. The Ministerial Search Committee will be formally commissioned at the Sunday service on May 22, 2022.

What are we looking for in a candidate?

Ideally, all members of the committee will exhibit the following qualities and characteristics.

  • Committed; has demonstrated and continues to feel a deep commitment to the current and future health & prosperity of the church.
  • Big-picture view; willing to reflect on and step back from personal biases of identity, interests, and roles to represent and consider the wants and needs of the whole church, not just those of individuals or groups of interest.
  • Discerning; able to see and understand people, to ask tough questions, and to show good judgement.
  • Confidential; can respect and keep the work of the committee in confidence when required, even with a spouse or significant others.
  • Curious; can stay engaged and open to learning a new process.
  • Humble; understands the importance of a diverse committee, and that others may have a different but no less valid experience or opinion.
  • Respectful; can hear and consider all voices on the committee with equal regard.
  • Supportive; can provide physical and emotional support of other team members as they all proceed through this sometimes-arduous process.
  • Trusting & trustworthy; can be trusted to complete assigned tasks and to trust others to complete theirs.
  • Sense of humor; can keep the weight and responsibility of the committee in perspective and use humor to stay in relationship with other committee members throughout the process.
  • Self-confident; Ability to handle conflict, receive feed-back, and hard decision-making

Thank you for your participation. If you have questions, please contact

Gordon Gram [email protected] or Lynn Armstrong [email protected]

President’s Column: the Ministerial Search process

 “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose “ 

the more things change, the more they stay the same…

 Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr 


Oh, my! The memories. I’ve called  it my “initiation” into Unitarian organizational life. I’d only been a member for two years but had gotten what a friend called “aggressively involved” at UCV.  The announcement to invite nominations to the search for the next minister had been made and at coffee hour, one of our elders (Sheilah Thompson by name) approached me at coffee hour. 

“Mary, you’ve got to put your name forward. The only people who have volunteered so far are all my age!”  Ahem. Yes, that was 30 years ago, so I am now that age! 

Then, as now, a majority of search committee members are elected by the congregation and then the board looks at “who’s missing”.  So although I was not one of those “first past the post” I was appointed, because I was new. (Just as an aside now it’s recommended that the board simply announce the full slate and not identify who was voted in and who appointed.)

Much has changed since Rev. Phillip Hewett retired! Technology has made some of the tasks much easier, such as creating a survey, sending “packets” and receiving information. A lot of that is now done through a website or pdf documents in a dropbox folder. 

So I share this to say, even if you’re pretty new (or if you’ve been around for a very long time), consider putting your hat in the ring.  From (likely) a group of 7, there’s a need for many perspectives and experience.  

During the time I was serving on the committee, a friend remarked, “That’s a committee designed for conflict.” Don’t get scared! All that means is when you intentionally bring seven people together for a very important task with a high degree of diversity, there will be, by design, a need to have excellent communication and teamwork skills.  

So here am I, with a nod to Sheilah, saying: Please consider this opportunity to serve our congregation by offering to take on the admittedly heavy responsibility to serve on a ministerial search committee.  

Some of the things that have not changed are:

  • You’d be expected to give up any other organizational “jobs” – sing in the choir, garden, attend Sunday services, but no committee or team work
  • You will be under a very high bar for confidentiality. Only one candidate will ultimately be presented to the congregation and you will go to your grave mum about the names of any other ministers who expressed interest
  • You will get to know your fellow committee members deeply (I’m crying as I write this) and it could be your initiation rite to lifelong commitment to our religion.



PS – There will be many opportunities over the next while to learn more and to nominate people, including yourself. Stay tuned!

Click here for information about the upcoming Board Forum on Sunday, March 13.

To see who’s on the board and a list of recent posts, go to


Board Covenant

Here is the interim board covenant (to be improved over time).

We have started pasting it at the bottom of every agenda and allocating time at the end of our board meetings to look at how we used it during our meeting.

All groups are encouraged to develop their own covenant taking into consideration specifics that relate to our congregational Covenant of Healthy Relations.


Vancouver Unitarians Board Covenant


A. Be considerate toward one another.
B. Be open, honest and respectful.
C. Serve our role to the best of our ability.
D. Foster a spirit of patience and courage.
E. Speak with one voice.
F. Develop and promote genuine relationships.
G. Honour our Faith

We promise to each other that we will:


A. Be considerate toward one another

We agree to:

  1. Follow through on our individual tasks,
  2. Ask for help when we need it,
  3. Be on time for meetings,
  4. Arrive prepared for meetings by having thoughtfully read materials in advance
  5. Be fully present for each meeting,
  6. Stay on schedule during the meetings so that they end on time.

B. Be open, honest and respectful

We agree to:

  1. Truly listen to one another,
  2. Consider ideas not our own,
  3. Be tolerant of other ideas so we all feel free to contribute,
  4. Admit our own mistakes,
  5. Bring disagreements or concerns directly to the people involved so that we can maintain a healthy working environment.

C. Serve our role to the best of our ability

We agree to:

  1.  Remember that we are working to fulfill the mission, not our personal desires,
  2.  Maintain focus on the priorities and goals of the Board,
  3.  Work only on issues that belong to the Board,
  4.  Push the bounds of creativity,
  5.  Be familiar with the Congregation’s bylaws, policies, tradition and finances.

D. Foster a spirit of patience and courage

We agree to:

  1. Acknowledge that we each bring unique skills and styles to the work of the Board,
  2. Be willing to disagree with respect.

E. Speak with one voice

We agree to:

  1. Remember that only the Board, as a whole, and not its individual members as such, has any power or authority except as explicitly delegated by policy.

F. Develop and promote genuine relationships

We agree to:

  1. Get to know each other well enough to build trust,
  2. Take time to have fun, relax and laugh with one another.

G. Honour our Faith 

We agree to:

  1. Always remember that as leaders we hold a special commission to live out our Unitarian Universalist principles and bring them to bear on our work and decisions.

Practising the Art of Inclusion – President’s Message February 2022

from Mary Bennett, UCV Board of Trustees President

“How can we get young people involved?” is where the conversation started at our board retreat. We decided to set up a task force!

After toying with names like “Beyond Boomers” or “Generational Transformation” the board settled on the simple term “Generational Inclusion” and charged the task force with exploring what practices are required to ensure that all generations feel invited to actively engage with the important religious and spiritual work of our community. Vice-President, Bruce McIvor and I are just getting started on this work and I hope members from all 7 “living generations” will engage in this conversation.

Currently the Canadian Unitarian Council are creating video recorded interviews and hosting forum discussions to help us welcome people from diverse relationships and families, people of all dis/abilities and people of all classes. I’ve watched the first series and they’re very enlightening. I encourage you to register.

The focus on anti-racism over the past years has resulted in our own very active IBPOC affinity group as well as “IPA” – IBPOC Plus Allies team – to plan initiatives that bring to our awareness the lived experiences, heritage and culture of people of colour within our congregation. 

With the leadership of board members, Diane Brown, Bruce McIvor and Jenny Malcolm the board is beginning a journey of “decolonizing our board.”  

In 1995 we were one of the first congregations in Canada to complete the Welcoming Congregation Program which focuses on welcoming to LGBTQ plus persons. 

It’s inspirational and moving to hear the stories of people who have different lives than our own, whether because of age, race, class, abilities, gender or sexual identity and there are, as well, some simple practices we can all use in practising the art of inclusion.  

Make space; take space is now the phrase used to remind us to notice who is in the room–whether literally or on our zoom screen–and find ways to include those who for whatever reason are not being heard. 

There are well-developed methods for encouraging all voices to be heard such as dynamic governance/sociocracy and convergent facilitation. There are also everyday opportunities to simply notice frequently how much space each of us is taking and then learning a few lines to even things out when they’re out of balance.  A study I read many years ago said people who spoke a lot in a group underestimated the amount of time they talked and those who talked relatively little overestimated the time they spoke.

Back to the generational inclusion focus, did you know that Gen Z (those between age 11 and 26) is “the most diverse group – in terms of not just race, but also gender. .. It’s the most likely group to have individuals who identify as nonbinary. They expect diversity to be a top priority. That means things like gender-neutral bathrooms, equal pay for equal work, and support for racial inclusion movements. ” (Deloitte study)

Seen on instagram recently: If you’re over 45 and don’t have an under-30 mentor (not mentee) then you’re going to miss fundamental shifts in thinking that are happening. 

If you are willing to experiment with some ways to get to know the “others” in our congregation, I’d love to hear your stories about making space and taking space. If you’re under 30 and willing to be a mentor to one of us who’s over 45, I’d especially love to hear from you. 

Send me a note to [email protected] and share with me how we at UCV can continue to develop our skills in the art of inclusion. Meet all the board members at and review our Covenant of Healthy Relations here


Here’s a summary of the 7 living generations and an analysis of UCV’s data about generational distribution at UCV. It may not be what you think!

Thanks to Keith Wilkinson for preparing this document.

Generations Table 2022-01-24


Board Notes January 2022

The UCV Board met on Tuesday, January 18.
We confirmed a Generational Inclusion Task Force co-chaired by Mary Bennett and Bruce McIvor that will start by interviewing Millennials and Gen Z’s.
We ​will move toward the CUC’s recommended process of selecting delegates for a two-year term. Criteria and a selection process will be shared with the congregation by mid-February.
Diane Brown, Bruce McIvor and Ingrid Luters will be exploring and recommending ways to promote engagement with our Covenant of Healthy Relations.
President, Mary Bennett, will be on Zoom this Sunday 12:30-1​ ​pm if you have questions or comments on these or other board matters.
Meet the board and see recent posts at

Being President/Being Present

by Mary Bennett, UCV Board of Trustees President, December 28, 2021

Come into this place of memory and let its history warm your soul,

Come into this place of prophecy and power and let its vision change your heart.

Singing the Living Tradition, #429 

Rev. William Schulz, Unitarian Universalist Association President 1978 to 1993

I’ve been indulging in nostalgia this month. Recalling past Decembers both with my own family and friends and at UCV.  As I sat at home visiting three congregations over youtube on Christmas Eve this year, I recalled my first Christmas Eve at UCV. In darkness to the singing of Silent Night, we lit each others’ candles. On leaving I was asked to put my candle in a basket. I did so reluctantly; I wanted to keep that candle. I got my courage up to head over to the hall where the minister was serving hot apple cider from a big punch bowl. 

Wind the film back to January 1989 and you’d find me making my annual New Year’s resolutions. That year I’d decided to make a resolution for each of the 8 aspects of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. I self-mockingly summarized my list as “to have matching towels and become spiritually developed.”  UCV was one of three spiritual groups I tried out. Once I gave up trying to figure out exactly what this religion was, I realized I’d found my people and so “signed the book.”   

As well as nostalgic memories, I have been studying our recent past: reading last year’s board meeting minutes, task force reports, by-laws, terms of reference and previous strategic plans. The board will be embarking on its “prophetic” role of developing a strategic plan. 

January, named for the Roman God Janus, the two-faced God looking both back and forward, is a good time to do this work.  

Meanwhile, we live in the present. What of UCV at this very moment, or at least this very month or year? 

Some of you have likely engaged in a “SWOT” analysis before. What are our Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats? 

As I consider these questions, I’m aware that every individual on the board brings their own history, perspective and hopes. We are something like the blind men encountering an elephant. You likely know the story. Since they can’t see the animal, they each describe it based on the part they touch whether the ear, the side, the tail or the tusk. The moral of the story is for everyone to share their knowledge in order to build up an understanding of what an elephant really is.

The first item under duties in the President’s job description exhorts me to “encourage everyone to engage”. This will be my Prime Directive for the coming year. I am genuinely curious to hear more of each board member’s perspective. Together we can build up a better idea of what this animal we know as UCV actually is and where it might want to be led. 

The board will continue with regular forums to invite congregational input into important decisions. As well, I’d like to try an occasional AMA – Ask Me Anything session.  Since I’ve asked you to treat me as “Just Mary” (not the board president) when you see me at UCV, it seemed fair to set up a way to make “President Mary” available. If it wasn’t Covid-times, I would book a room in Hewett Centre and invite you to bring your coffee and drop in. Join me on zoom through on Sunday January 2nd and… ask me anything. We’ll see how that goes. 

Meet the board members and see past governance messages here

Send a note to [email protected] if you have a question or comment for the board president.

COVID-19 Safety Update

COVID-19 Update: March 8, 2023 

  • COVID is not over, and other contagious respiratory viruses continue to circulate. Please do not attend worship or other activities at UCV if you have symptoms or are feeling unwell.
  • We continue to strongly recommend masks be worn in indoor spaces. In the interests of inclusivity and the safety of the vulnerable members of our congregation, we will continue to provide hybrid worship services. A supply of N-95 masks will continue to be available at the greeters’ table in the Sanctuary foyer for anyone attending Sunday services.

COVID-19 Update: Feb. 1, 2023 

  • COVID is not over, and other contagious respiratory viruses continue to circulate. Please do not attend worship or other activities at UCV if you have symptoms or are feeling unwell.
  • We continue to strongly recommend that masks be worn in indoor spaces. The choir will continue to sing masked for the time being.

COVID-19 Update: Jan. 4, 2023 

  • COVID is not over, and other contagious respiratory viruses continue to circulate. Please to not attend worship or other activities at UCV if you have symptoms or are feeling unwell.
  • The UCV Covid Task Force continues to strongly recommends masking in indoor spaces including in the Sanctuary on Sundays, and the Choir is required to wear masks while singing.
  • Please continue to be conscientious around using hand sanitizer, and remember to respect the personal boundaries of others around shaking or holding hands at service.

COVID-19 Update: Nov. 2, 2022 

  • COVID is not over. The UCV Covid Task Force strongly recommends masking in indoor spaces including in the Sanctuary on Sundays, and the Choir is required to wear masks while singing.

COVID-19 Update: Sept. 7, 2022 

  • COVID is not over. The UCV Covid Task Force strongly recommends masking in indoor spaces including in the Sanctuary on Sundays, and the Choir is required to wear masks while singing.

COVID-19 Update: July 6, 2022 

  • COVID is not over. The UCV Covid Task Force met again, and recommends continuing the mask requirement for indoors spaces at UCV events – with an increase in signage including outside the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings.

COVID-19 Update: May 31, 2022 

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends continuing the mask requirement for indoors spaces at UCV events.

COVID-19 Update: April 6, 2022

  • The provincial vaccine passport program will end this coming Friday, April 8. UCV will no longer be checking vaccine passports as a requisite for entry to Sunday services.
  • It was recommended to leave at least an hour between different rentals/user groups in the Sanctuary to allow time for the air circulation system to complete several cycles.
  • Wearing of masks remains required when indoors at UCV events and spaces.

COVID-19 Update: March 3, 2022

  • We are welcoming in-person services back, and we do so with some advice and requirements. The advice is to check yourself and loved ones for COVID symptoms prior to attending ANY in person event.  If you are not feeling well, STAY HOME.
  • Vaccination protects against the severe form of the disease, but doesn’t entirely prevent transmission. Therefore, we are requiring proof of vaccination status, and wearing of masks when indoors on the UCV campus. Masks (minimum 3 layer, but N-95 even better) prevent contagious aerosols from getting into the air.
  • Assess your own risk tolerance.  We are maintaining the campus, but every one of us needs to maintain our own layers of protection.

COVID-19 Update: Feb. 2, 2022

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends that services and a modified coffee hour reopen in-person on Feb. 13.
  • A limited supply of N-95 masks has been ordered and will be made available for those participating in the service itself. We encourage congregation members attending to bring their own N-95 masks if possible, and we are looking into ordering additional supply so we can offer them to all attendees who wish to wear them.
  • Pre-registration is no longer required for Sunday services. In-person attendees are required to be vaccinated and mask wearing is required at all times indoors.
  • We will of course continue to offer multi-platform services at

COVID-19 Update: Jan. 5, 2022

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends that services stay online until at least February 13, 2022.
  • Small groups should hold multiplatform or online only meetings, using our common sense to mitigate risk as much as possible including through the use of our new air filters in Hewett Hall and the Sanctuary.

COVID-19 Update: Services return to online only – Dec. 23, 2021

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends that we move to online services in an abundance of caution to protect the members of our community. Working with the Public Health Officer’s timeline, we also recommend that services stay online until January 16, 2022. We will reevaluate in the week before January 16.  We also have a meeting in the first week of January to discuss everything in depth and in person.
  • We also feel that small groups should be able to continue, using our common sense to mitigate risk as much as possible.
  • We recognize that isolation has had far reaching mental health implications and harm to our community members. We hope that the ability to meet in small groups will help ease feelings of sadness over the next few weeks.

COVID-19 Update on Reopening for Sunday Services – Dec. 2, 2021

  • Sunday service attendance is capped at 125 and pre-registration remains required:
  • Choir and congregants can now sing fully masked and vaccinated. Triple layer masks or N95 masks are recommended.
  • Eating and drinking in Hewett Hall is permitted while seated. Groups using the facility must check vaccination passports and use air purifiers; people must be masked while moving around.
  • In-person Sunday Coffee Hour in Hewett Hall is tentatively scheduled to resume Jan. 9, 2022 (more details to come.)

COVID-19 Update on Reopening for Sunday Services – Oct. 7, 2021 

  • Sunday services will reopen Oct. 24 with attendance capped at 100 and pre-registration required.
  • Register here for Sunday services:
  • Members will be required to wear masks inside the Sanctuary.
  • Those attending indoor services will need to be fully vaccinated and provide one-time proof of vaccination.
  • Check-in procedures with follow COVID screening best practices, and volunteers, greeters and ushers will be trained accordingly.
  • There will be no food and coffee served after Sunday services, and Coffee Hour (aka Social Hour) will take place online only. Hewitt Hall will be open as a space for children and their guardians, as well as for general washroom use.
  • Online services will continue to be provided as usual.

COVID-19 Update – Sept. 1, 2021 

  • Based on the recommendations of our COVID safety team and the concerns of the currently rising Covid-19 case numbers,  the UCV Board has decided not to reopen our sanctuary for Sunday morning worship services yet. We will revisit this decision in a month, and hope to be able to meet again in person for worship in October.  There were many factors influencing this difficult decision, and we know many people will feel both disappointed and also relieved. The Board is motivated by our commitment to equity and to the safety of the most vulnerable members of our congregation and communities.
  • Given the many factors, complexities and evolving scenarios over the past weeks, we want to be sure we are fully prepared to reopen our in-person worship services in a safe and inclusive manner with staff and volunteers trained on the many new safety procedures including checking vaccine passports that will need to be implemented,
  • With our Sanctuary renovations nearing completion, we look forward to being able to meet in-person in the near future with safety precautions in place. In the meantime, we will continue to engage with online services and with as many safe, outdoor gatherings and meetings as possible on our UCV campus.
  • In line with B.C. public health guidelines and the recommendations of our COVID safety team, the Board has affirmed that all small groups, action teams, and outside rental groups wishing to use UCV indoor spaces will need to ensure that attendees are vaccinated and wearing masks.
  • For more information, on the B.C. proof of vaccination requirement, you can visit the government website:

COVID-19 Update – July 1, 2021

As of July 1, our space rental/usage policies have been updated as follows:

  • Masks are respectfully requested while using any indoor space.
  • The Sanctuary will remain closed to the public for renovations taking place over the Summer months.
  • Committees and groups of up to 50 people will be permitted to hold meetings outside while on campus. Groups of up to 10 people will be permitted to hold meetings inside in the Fireside Room, and up to 20 people in the main Hall. Arrangements must be made with the office ahead of time and strict adherence to our COVID protocols is required. If a caretaker is needed in order to provide access, set up A/V equipment, assist with chairs and tables, etc., this expense is expected to be be incurred by the organizing group.
  • The kitchen may be used by a single designated person, but remains off-limits for group use.
  • Contact Marcus in the office for more information regarding policies surrounding external/community-based venue rentals.

COVID-19 Update – June 1, 2021

UCV’s core staff members and COVID team volunteers are currently engaged in an ongoing discussion around BC’s four-step reopening plan, and are working to adjust our own internal policies accordingly and in a way that aligns with our core principles as an inclusive spiritual community (please see the UUA’s ‘Key Principles for Planning‘ for more insight into our decision-making process). We are relieved and excited to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and are looking forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful campus someday soon!

The following is a summary of our current COVID-19 policies as they relate to venue rentals and/or site visits by members of the congregation (or the public at large). To see an archive of our previous updates, please click here.

  • When visiting the UCV campus for any purpose, masks are to be worn indoors at all times, and social distancing of 6 ft / 2 m is to be strictly maintained.
  • Rentals for memorial services are permitted in the Sanctuary, with a maximum attendance of up to 10 people, providing that the organizers are able to provide a COVID safety plan and contact tracing information (as well as adhere to any other applicable COVID guidelines concerning masks, distancing, etc.).
  • Otherwise, in accordance with Provincial guidelines, we are unfortunately not able to make any of our venues available for social, cultural, or professional purposes at this time.
  • Outdoor meetings on campus are permitted for groups of up to 10 people who are masked and sufficiently distanced. The office must be informed of any intent to host a meeting on campus. Chairs can be provided during office hours, or if there is a caretaker present.

As of June 15, the following changes will take effect:

  • The Sanctuary will be closed to the public in preparation for renovations taking place over the Summer months.
  • Committees and groups of up to 30 people will be permitted to hold meetings outside while on campus. Groups of up to 10 people will be permitted to hold meetings inside, either in the main Hall or Fireside Room. Arrangements must be made with the office ahead of time and strict adherence to our COVID protocols is required. If a caretaker is needed in order to provide access, set up A/V equipment, assist with chairs and tables, etc., this expense is expected to be be incurred by the organizing group.
  • Rentals for memorial services are permitted in the Fireside Room or Hewett Centre, with a maximum attendance of up to 10 people, providing that the organizers are able to provide a COVID safety plan and contact tracing information (as well as adhere to any other applicable COVID guidelines concerning masks, social distancing, etc.).

If you have questions or concerns about specific aspects of this policy, please contact the UCV office. If you have questions about whether or not a certain kind of meeting or event may be permissible under current BC COVID regulations, please refer to the information provided on the government website.

Board President as Waitress or Jigsaw Puzzler

UCV President’s message December 2021

From: “Waitressing in the Sacred Kitchen” by Rev. Meg Barnhouse:

The most helpful thing I grasped while waitressing was that some tables are my responsibility and some are not. A waitress gets overwhelmed if they have too many tables and no one gets good service. …I would go nuts if I tried to take care of everyone, if I tried to make everybody do the right thing. If I went through my life without ever learning to say, “Sorry, that’s not my table, Hon,” I would burn out and be no good to anybody. 

I need to have a surly waitress inside myself that I can call on when it seems everyone in the world is waving an empty coffee cup in my direction. My Inner Waitress looks over at them, keeping her six plates balanced and her feet moving, and says, “Sorry, Hon, not my table.”

 from The Rock of Ages at the Taj Mahal: Unquiet Meditations


There is so much change in our congregation and our national organization right now, that the key thing I’ve been working since our AGM on November 21st is attempting to discern which are the tables that the board and board president are directly responsible for and, to extend the analogy, which tables are someone else’s responsibility. 

Another metaphor I’ve been using is that I have a large jigsaw puzzle, but not the cover picture. Nor am I 100% sure who has some of the pieces.  I will try to trust that all of us working together will take care of our own puzzle pieces and add them to the overall puzzle and together we will discover what the overall picture is. In my family, jigsaw puzzles started by 1. Finding the corner pieces; 2 putting the outside border together and 3. Assembling piles of pieces that look like they might fit together according to the background colour. That’s how I’m approaching this task. 

If you weren’t at the Annual General Meeting, here is a written (and expanded) version of what I said at that time.

Hello and thank you to all who have sent good wishes and congratulations my way. And to all of you who have thanked Diane Brown for her excellent leadership and service, let me add thank you but also gratitude: Diane is stepping back but not away. She will be an active past president and I look forward to working with her especially over the next couple of months as we move through the transition to the new board.  She holds such a wealth of information and experience. I am also so grateful that Gordon Gram is continuing as Treasurer. The Board Executive has three new members: President, Vice-President and Secretary which is not the usual way things work.

I had a long period of discernment before putting my hat in the ring for this role. There are many reasons why “yes” wound up as the answer. Key among the reasons is the great board that the nominating committee put together. UCV is undergoing such a high degree of change and transition, the fact that Leslie Hill, Catherine Ponsford, John Boyle and Jenny Malcolm are also continuing as members-at-large is a very welcome element of stability.  Knowing both Michael O’Neill and Carolyn Grant, I hope and suspect they will continue to find meaningful ways to contribute to our community and also ways to nourish themselves through our many offerings. Welcome to Louise Bunn and Ingrid Luters both of whom I’ve worked with in other groups: Pagan team and Communications respectively. 

I’m seeing this year as one of “living the plan”. There may well be other changes, and things will happen. However, a lot has been decided over the past months and now I see the board keeping our sights on staying the course while being experimental in finding ways to put into operation the various goals that have been set.  

When I was interviewed for the job of Executive Director of the Canadian Unitarian Council, John Slattery (whom some of you know) was asking questions about community and congregational engagement including managing conflict. He started by looking down at my resume and then at me and saying, “I see you’re no stranger to conflict.” My response was that I didn’t seek it out, but yes, I seem to have engaged with conflict, which at a very basic definition is just difference.  When I taught organizational behaviour at BCIT, one chapter talked about the “energizing possibilities of conflict.” I try to take a positive view towards differences and keep faith that if many voices are heard a new resolution can be found–one that none of us could have figured out on our own. That said, I usually introduced that lecture by saying, “If I was applying for a new job and someone said, “Oh that organization has lots of conflict,” I’m not sure I’d see it as a good thing.”

I believe I am relatively comfortable living with ambiguity and often even seek out change. William Bridges, author of Transitions, talks about the “Neutral zone” as being where we have let go of the old ways but aren’t yet ready to fully embrace the new. He urges us to not be too hasty to try to nail things down but live in what can be the “flow” while things begin to reveal themselves. That’s how I see the board’s work at this time: to move slowly but with deliberation and discernment as we learn to live the new organizational structure, follow up on the many task force reports and create ways of being together that embrace the new 8th Principle and live our commitment to anti-racism.

The board has always been the group tasked with strategy but the new organizational structure protects the board from getting immersed in administrative or ministry roles. Our Governance Implementation Task Force is working hard to create documents that will clarify what we currently are: who’s accountable to whom; what responsibilities and authority various individuals and groups have. 

I bring a fair bit of experience in being on a policy-level /strategic governance board. For six years I was Chair of Education and then Vice-Chair on the BCIT Board of Governors.

As Executive Director of the CUC from 2000 to 2008 I came on board after they had adopted the Carver Policy Governance model, but eventually kept some elements but not others.

Like UCV at this time, those years were high change including the CUC-UUA transition, major changes to the national lay chaplaincy program and developing a new staff and volunteer model for the CUC.  Once it was all decided came the implementation phase and communicating it out to our congregations and supporting them in being part of the new way. It’s well over a decade since I left the CUC, and it seems on the brink of inventing new processes again now.

In the bio circulated by the nominating committee, I noted that I intend to be a strong voice for inclusion, for IBPOC, for youth and young adults and any who don’t fit the traditional mold for Unitarians because of neurodiversity, or economic or educational background.  

This passion for welcoming people into our community comes from my personal experience. When I look back to when I first tentatively put my toe in the waters of this religious community, I realize I was perhaps hypersensitive but I’m not alone in having felt (unconsciously I believe) ignored, dismissed or even treated with suspicion as I tried to get involved.

I once shared my story of trying to find my way in, and  Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed laughed his huge laugh and said, “Oh, you must have been really hungry.”  And yes, I was. And I believe there are many hungry potential Unitarians out there ready for a welcome. 

While taking those initial tentative steps I had no idea I’d be here 30 years later and be so engaged with this community, locally and nationally and even internationally. I remain hungry for what UCV offers, which brings me to some comments I need to make about self-care for leaders in general and me in particular.

Participating in worship services, social gatherings and educational workshops as “Just Mary” – not the UCV Board President – will be the fuel that keeps me able to do what I anticipate will be challenging, time-consuming, but ultimately satisfying work on the board. I have some ideas for setting up ways you–any of you–can share your questions, ideas and concerns with me and the board, primarily continuing the highly consultative work of the recent board by having online board forums and welcoming observers to attend open board meetings. Past presidents have told me the meetings have always been open to observers, yet few have attended.

I’m already getting emails on a wide variety of topics, and I’ll be working with the recently launched “coordinating council” consisting of a board representative, our minister and congregational administrator to see how we can ensure people know who to go to for what. In the restaurant analogy, we all want you to know which server is best suited to your needs. It makes sense for us to help you know whether it’s the board, the staff or the minister who can best respond to any questions, concerns and ideas you have.  Some enquiries will be clear, and probably others will be less clear or touch on all three roles in different ways. Please be patient as we work to sort things out.  

Let’s do this. Together.