Category: In the Interim

Embracing Possibility – In the Interim

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.

Not all things are blessed,

but the seeds of all things are blessed.

The blessing is in the seed.”

Muriel Rukeyser, 1913 – 1980

 

Embracing Possibility – this is our Soul Matters theme for the month of September, which is perfectly fitting as we anticipate returning to the beautiful UCV Sanctuary with upgraded sound and lighting equipment along with refinished floors and brand new chairs, offering countless possibilities for gathering in new ways. 

Embracing possibility is also the way we enter this second year of transitional ministry together.

This transition period of three years in-between settled ministers is a special opportunity for UCV to rediscover itself and plan for the next chapter of its future.  This is a pivotal and exciting period of exploration, reflection, and preparation for the church to look at its entire system through the lens of the five developmental/ transitional tasks, which are:

  1. History – Reviewing how the Congregation has been shaped and formed; encouraging and hearing all of the stories about the Congregation’s past, as the foundation upon with the present rests; and embracing the rich variety that makes up the Congregation.
  2. Mission & Identity – recognizing its unique identity and its strengths, needs, and challenges; Defining and redefining sense of purpose and direction; clarifying the faith community’s identity and core values; working to develop, update, and revitalize mission and vision statements; and reviewing strategic and tactical plans including stewardship and the financial health of the congregation
  3. Leadership – clarifying the appropriate leadership roles of minister(s), church staff, and lay leaders and navigating the shifts in leadership that may accompany times of transition; Reviewing the membership needs and its ways of organizing and developing new and effective leadership; providing opportunity for individuals and the Congregational organization to examine the types of leadership needed for new leaders to emerge, and for seasoned leaders to recommit or to refocus their gifts.
  4. Connections – making appropriate use of CUC, UUA, and other outside resources; Discovering and revitalizing all the association, interfaith, and community relationships a congregation builds outside of itself; and re-assessing old links and considering new ones.
  5. Future – Developing congregational and pastoral profiles that position the congregation for its next ministry, including a healthy and honest assessment of the other focus points so that the congregation can turn its energy toward proactive decision-making for the future.

Embracing possibilities means being open to new ways of thinking and doing things, to letting go of old ways and patterns. This is especially important as we engage in conversations about the proposed 8th Principle to move forward with our commitment to dismantling racism and colonialist culture in our UU institutions and as we go deeper into the hard work of anti-racism within ourselves as individuals. Culture change is hard and sometimes painful work. We are blessed to be in community with one another in these complex times.  Let us be aware of how our words and actions may impact others and remember that we are all one family, one body, so please be gentle and kind with one another. 

UCV has adopted a new organizational design that streamlines the work of the congregation. Embracing and creating possibilities for new leadership to emerge bringing fresh ideas and energy while celebrating and sustaining the foundations  built by many generations of dedicated members. This is an exciting time to be here at UCV. 

Change is inevitable, and it is so often met with resistance, which can manifest in different ways. Resistance is usually about fear of the unknown, of letting go of what is familiar and taking a risk. Something must be lost so that something new can happen. The pain of loss is real and part of our ongoing human experience. The joy of new beginnings is also real, so let us celebrate the start of this program year together as a community by embracing possibilities to shape UCV’s future for coming generations. 

From the CUC (Canadian Unitarian Council) website:

Seven principles guide our choices. Six sources nourish our spirits.

Five aspirations help us grow.

As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we aspire to be:

Deeply Connected: We strive to foster healthy relationships amongst and within UU communities, with the broader world and with all life.

Radically Inclusive: We strive to create hospitable, diverse, multi-generational communities.

Actively Engaged: We strive to work joyfully for a just and compassionate society, experimenting with new forms of community.

Theologically Alive: We seek to be ever-evolving in our understanding, open to new knowledge.

Spiritually Grounded: We seek transformation through personal spiritual experiences and shared ritual

 

Friends, may we grow together towards these Five Aspirations, embracing the possibilities to nourish our spirits and heal our world. 

 

Blessings, 

 

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim MInister

 

Summer in the Interim

As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.  (CUC Vision Statement)

Welcome Summer!!!

Getting ready to head into some holiday time, it has been heartening and affirming to look back on the past year with UCV.  It has been quite a year.  We have all changed and grown through the challenges, both individually and as a religious community. We have adapted to new ways of being together when “the way things have always been” could no longer be.

Groups and committees began to meet online, and many now say they will continue with this convenient format.

The UCV Choir produced a tremendous December Candle Light Service that has had  almost 750 online views! The creativity, talent and resilience of the choir leads produced more than 70 hymns for regular Sunday services, ensuring that we could all sing along to favourite tunes, led by familiar faces and voices.

The dedicated Buildings and Grounds volunteers continued their tireless work to maintain the campus and plan exciting upgrades to the sanctuary space and facilities.

Environment, social action and refugee committees barely slowed down during the pandemic restrictions, finding new ways to engage.  A new IBPOC group has led impactful worship services and raised awareness and conversation around Asian, Indigenous and Black history and heritage in Canada, working with allies to build a more welcoming, inclusive and multicultural community within UCV and in the broader world.

We responded as a community when incidences of violence and hatred impacted marginalized people and indigenous communities. We have constantly renewed our commitment to advocate for love and justice by working to dismantle systems of racism and oppression. We have grieved together in ritual, ceremony and action and found sources of hope and renewal to carry us forward.  We are engaging in local and national conversations leading the way to address the systems of racism within our own lives and institutions — as detailed in the report by the Dismantling Racism Study Group CUC Dismantling Racism Final Report 2021 — and charting a path forward together in covenantal conversation — “A Way Forward for the 8th Principle Process”

Forward. Looking towards September when we hope to be able to gather once again in person for worship services and programs on the UCV campus, while also continuing to serve our growing virtual community with multi-platform live-streaming on Sundays.

During this unprecedented year of being a distant, virtual congregation, many things have been changing behind the scenes in preparation for coming back together with renewed capacity and expanded opportunities with programs for all ages and upgrades to the beautiful sanctuary space creating ways of gathering that are open to the imagination.

We will grow into the new organizational design that is detailed in this newsletter, which will enhance how programs and teams work collaboratively and help to developing sustainable goal-oriented leadership and volunteer structures.

All in all, this has been a monumental year, and I feel so very blessed and grateful for having been here with you all, through all the challenges and heartache, growth and learning.  Feeling very ready for a summer break, and also very excited for the year ahead.

May you all have a restful, healthy and inspiring summer.

Brightest blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister.

 

In the Interim: April 2021

“The path of awakening is not about becoming who you are. Rather it is about unbecoming who you are not.” – Albert Schweitzer

We are past the cooler months, past the Vernal Equinox and looking towards the greening, blooming promise of Spring.  What will it bring? What will grow in our gardens this year? What new hatchlings and buds of creativity, action and purpose will shape and fill our time, our attention, our community?  What will we become?  As any caterpillar knows, becoming something new means shedding something old, taking a risk and growing beyond what they once were.

Our Soul Matters theme for the month of April is “Becoming”.  What does it mean to be a people of BECOMING?  This is what our worship services and programs will explore in the coming weeks. Indeed, it is a question we have been engaging in for quite some time, as we work our way through the process of ministerial transition.  The Board, Ministerial Transition Team, myself as Interim Minister, and you, the congregation, we have all been working hard to review and evaluate the way things have been. We are making decisions about what to keep and what to leave behind as we try on new ways of being, new roles for staff and leadership, new ways of carrying out the mission of UCV, envisioning a bright and promising future. This is what it means to be a people of becoming: improving our capacity to meet the vision and demands of change. It matters, though, whether we consider becoming an individual task or the task of communities in covenant, having a commitment to one another. The task of becoming requires that we connect with the values beneath the choices and actions. we can’t predict the path. But if, along with the question of where we are going, we ask the question, “Who are we becoming as we go?”, the answers may prove illuminating.

The world that is and the world that we want it to be remain profoundly connected. The multiple platforms, online, in-person, small group, on their way to find us, been here for decades, all remain deeply intertwined. And this, as white poet e.e. cummings would say, is the root of the root and the bud of the bud, or the very source of our divine life and thriving.

Things are changing; they will be changing for a while yet. Don’t let the feelings of uncertainty convince you that you’re missing more than you are. You are a wonderful gift and all the gifts that you bring will help UCV grow and develop into its potential. You can help with the questions of where we’re going and who we are becoming. It is a destination on the other side of a pandemic that we have yet to explore. This month we are asking UCV asking members and friends for financial pledges to support this remarkable journey.

It seems that we too must go through such a time, where life as we have known it is over – when being a caterpillar feels somehow false and yet we don’t know who we are supposed to become. All we know is that something bigger is calling us to change.  – Elizabeth Lesser