Category: Interim Ministry

Ministry Milestone!

It is with deep joy and gratitude I share that I have reached a professional milestone: I have been granted Full Fellowship as a minister in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  This is a bit akin to getting tenure, and the last major milestone our faith recognizes in a Minister’s formation and service before retirement or death. I will be recognized at the UUA General Assembly in Pittsburg during the Service of Living Tradition.

This has been a journey worth looking back on. At the 2013 UUA General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, I apprehensively attended a Prospective Student luncheon with Meadville Lombard School for Ministry which marks the starting point for these past 9 life-changing years. Our religion has a rigorous and defined path to ministry which includes a Masters of Divinity, psychological evaluations, chaplaincy training, community and congregational internships as well as other learnings and processes.

My path has not been easy or straightforward. There was the back and forth travel between my home in Switzerland and seminary in Chicago for several years, and many, many other travels. I’ve been evaluated constantly by multiple parties, including professors, as individuals and as teams, my teaching pastors, multiple UU church and fellowship boards and internship committees at my teaching congregations in Geneva, Amsterdam, Basel and then the Unitarian Universalist Church of Westport, Connecticut where I interned for a year and was also Ordained, and then by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee who granted my Preliminary Fellowship, and before that by peers and supervisors in my chaplaincy training, and later by an international panel as I served communities across Europe before returning to Canada and being evaluated again in a hospital chaplaincy setting, and finally, these last couple of years with the Vancouver Unitarians Board of Trustees and Committee on Ministry, along with my own self-evaluations and learning plans all the way through.  I think that is it.  For now.  If nothing else, there should be significantly less paper-work in my future!

It’s called “Full Fellowship” now, but it used to be “Final Fellowship.” The change is a good one – it signifies that we are never done learning, growing, and developing. By any name, it is an affirming milestone to reach, to be recognized as having served well, sometimes in very difficult situations, and as being committed to my on-going learning and growth. This incredible journey has changed me in ways I hadn’t imagined, opening my heart and horizons in ways I hadn’t known possible.

It is always good to recognise our achievements and to celebrate together.  I share this celebration with you, the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, with deep gratitude for being a meaningful and supportive part of this journey.

Grateful for the journey, grateful for the call, and grateful to all who have accompanied me on this journey. So… now I am beginning to look around with curiosity and an open heart to see what’s next, and what I can do with that extra time in the coming year(s)…

In faith and service,

Rev. Lara Cowtan


Thanks to Thomas Park @thomascpark for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

What Makes a Minister? Musings from your interim minister

I used to joke that a minister was a Pastor, Preacher, Prophet, Plumber, Philosopher, Gardener, Bookkeeper and Baker. Not far from the truth, ministry encompasses many facets, seen and unseen of congregational life. As UCV prepares to search for your next settled minister, I thought you might be interested to know what UU Ministers today are trained for, what competencies they are evaluated by, and what professional ethical expectations they are to uphold.

This is the Code of Conduct from the UU Ministers Association to which all UU ministers must be accountable. This is a recent article by congregational consultant, Sarai Rice, entitled “What Should a Minister be Good at, Post-Pandemic?”

Listed below are the competencies to which UU ministers are trained and evaluated through 3 years of graduate study, then by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee for a further 3 years of preliminary fellowship, based on feedback from congregations they serve, from mentors and from their own self-evaluations. This list has become a tool for congregations to use in further regular evaluation of their shared ministries.

One: Worship and Rites of Passage

  • Knows how to prepare holistic, inclusive worship and rituals for life passages.
  • Demonstrates awareness of multicultural and multigenerational approaches to worship.
  • Prepares and delivers engaging sermons, homilies, and reflections.
  • Works collaboratively with professional colleagues and lay worship leaders.
  • Uses arts to create multisensory worship.
  • Integrates theological theory and practice.

Two: Pastoral Care and Presence

  • Can provide pastoral care, recognizing differences between pastoral and therapeutic counseling.
  • Demonstrates healthy personal boundaries and knowledge of professional ethics.
  • Has awareness and skills to respond appropriately to sexuality, mental health, end of life, and relationship concerns.
  • Understands cultural and generational needs in pastoral care.

Three: Spiritual Development for Self and Others

  • Models spiritual depth in personal practice.
  • Articulates philosophies and theories of teaching and learning.
  • Models accountable engagement with diverse spiritual traditions and communities.
  • Demonstrates understanding of multi-religious knowledge and practices.

Four: Social Justice in the Public Square 

  • Is engaged with critical justice issues in the local community and in the larger world.
  • Can apply the lens of power and privilege in the areas of antiracism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism.
  • Understands basics of community organizing and value of broad-based coalitions.
  • Connects the history of UU justice engagement to the present.

Five: Administration

  • Is prepared to manage staff and volunteers.
  • Has a basic understanding of budgets, stewardship, and fundraising (and the theology thereof).
  • Understands role as a minister within a mission-based institution.
  • Articulates understanding of conflict management and obstacles to healthy organizational functioning.

Six: Serves the Larger Unitarian Universalist Faith

  • Collaborates with Unitarian Universalist and interfaith colleagues, including other religious professionals.
  • Articulates historical influence of Christianity on North American culture, including Unitarian Universalism.
  • Engages with Unitarian Universalism at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
  • Articulates knowledge of current initiatives and issues within the faith movement.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of UU history and polity.
  • Contributes to ongoing scholarship and support of professional ministry.

Seven: Leads the Faith into the Future

  • Experiments with emerging media technology.
  • Articulates a vision for the future, assessing opportunities and challenges for Unitarian Universalism in a changing society.
  • Explores new generational and multicultural expressions of Unitarian Universalism.

In the Interim: Welcome back from summer!

“I was so shocked to learn that the opposite of belonging is fitting in. Because fitting in is assessing a group of people and changing who you are. But true belonging never asks us to change who we are. It demands we be who we are.” – Brené Brown

Welcome back from Summer!

I hope the warm months were nourishing in many ways.  For me, the break was a perfect blend of activity, adventure, personal and spiritual growth, relaxation and preparation for returning refreshed and excited about our year ahead.  This is our final year of interim ministry together, and I am looking forward to moving deeply into the final stages of helping UCV to prepare for its next settled ministry, as well as simply being here with you and for you as your minister.

As we move into this new year together, I want to share with you the 3 Program Priorities that we will all be working towards together through the many ministries of UCV.

  1. Embodying our Covenant.
    Drawing from great suggestions from the Board report and the DMTF report as well as other sources, a variety of activities, presentations, materials and programs will be geared towards building trust, dealing with past and present conflicts, learning about communication tools and building community relationship. The Healthy Relations Team and Ministerial Transitions Team will be working together to engage the congregation in many ways.
  1. Enacting the 8th Principle.
    This will include multiple ways for people to engage in anti-racism and anti-oppression learning and work at many levels, from beginner to advanced. Building on the Widening the Circle, Bystander Intervention Training, Book groups, Giving up Racism for Lent and more that was available this past year. The goal is to incorporate the essence of this new Principle into the body of UCV’s ministry, considering and reviewing whether current practices and culture inadvertently perpetuate systems of oppression, colonization and marginalization, and offering consistent messaging and learning about what we can do differently.
  1. Exploring Landscapes of Ageing.
    Lifespan faith development will continue to support family programming, and will also increase opportunities for specific topics and experiences more relevant to our older demographic. This group has had a harder time engaging in online communications and may be feeling more disconnected or under- served, also considering how much has changed during the past couple of years. An example are the two “Death Cafe” gathering that were held in June and August.

These program priorities are in alignment with the Board’s Strategic Priorities and the vision of UCV. The will help to transform the culture of UCV, build stronger volunteer engagement, increase membership, encourage fiscal stewardship and promote Legacy giving.  Look for opportunities to become involved and to lean into these goals to build this community together.


From our Soul Matters theme of Belonging

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome that invited you to enter entirely…
You began to breathe again… You learned to sing. 

But the deal with this blessing is that it will not leave you alone, will not let you linger…
this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you but because it desires for you to become the sanctuary that you have found… 

– Jan Richardson 

Richardson begins with hunger. And so do we. Just saying the word “belonging” conjures it up: The primal hunger to be included; the longing to be let in. No one likes standing outside the circle. No one likes leaning against the locked door listening while everyone is laughing inside. From the time we are little, belonging is the thing we seek. It’s the hoped for Holy Grail. The promised resting place.

But Richardson will have none of that. Our own belonging is only the beginning. That’s what she wants us to know. One minute she’s wrapping us in comforting words about settling in and allowing ourselves to finally breathe. The next she’s shaking us awake and telling us to get up and go.

That shaking should tell us something.

In other words, this is no gentle invitation, friends. No sweet reminder to think of others. It’s a warning. A desperate hope that we will wake to the fact that there are two kinds of belonging: one that wants to bless us and another that wants to enlist us.

Deep down we know this. The hard part is to remember it. To use Richardson’s language, if we find ourselves being invited to linger rather than leave, alarm bells should go off. We need to be weary of those who welcome us with a club jacket and a soft couch. They may have let us in, but soon they will enlist us into the work of keeping others out. There will likely even be a part of us that wants to keep others out. After all, closed circles don’t just set us apart, they sit us above.

But they also keep us small. Maybe this is why Richardson’s blessing is so intent on not leaving us alone. It knows that we only grow when the circle does. Circles that keep others out also keep the air out. No one inside a closed circle truly sings; they only suffocate, slowly.

It’s all one big reminder that the true blessing of belonging is not that you get to come inside the circle; it’s that you get to participate in expanding it. Again, as the circle grows so do we.

In this month of “Belonging”  I offer you these questions for reflection:

  1. How does the assurance of belonging most often enter your body? Through words? Touch? Silence? Song? Solitude? Nature? Creative expression? Prayer? Memory?
  2. What one change in your UU church community would increase your sense of belonging?
  3. If someone asked you, “How do you belong to the land?”, what would you answer?

This month’s theme of “Belonging” has had me reflecting a lot about where I belong and who my people are, and I truly feel it is you, the UCV members, friends and community, to whom I belong and who are “my people” in so many ways.  I am grateful to be here with you during this special, transitional time, and will embrace all of the opportunities this coming year offers as your minister.  With that in mind, I want to share with you this somewhat anecdotal and evolving list for your reference as encouragement and invitation to you to reach out to me.

When to Call the Minister?

  • When you haven’t met me yet, but would like to.
  • When you have problems to discuss—about anything.
  • When a sympathetic ear might help.
  • When you’re going in the hospital or know someone else who is.
  • When someone close to you dies or is critically ill.
  • When you’re planning to be married, or thinking about it.
  • When you return from vacation and want to reconnect.
  • When one of your children graduates from university or moves away.
  • When you have a child to be dedicated.
  • When you’re pregnant but wish you weren’t.
  • When you’ve been arrested, or ought to be.
  • When you want to learn more about Unitarian Universalism.
  • When you’re scared or feeling unsure about who to talk with.
  • When you’d like to plan for a bequest to the church.
  • When you’re considering joining the congregation.
  • When a friend of your wants to know more about our faith.
  • When you have suggestions about the programs for the congregation.
  • When you have suggestions for worship services.
  • When you’d like to help with any congregational activities.
  • When you want to discuss community issues.
  • When you’re mad at me.
  • When you’d like to talk religion with me.
  • When you are considering end-of-life issues.
  • When you want to reflect on a meaningful question or even in your life.
  • Call early, call often!

With warmest blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister, Vancouver Unitarians

The MTT Recommends ‘In the Interim”

The Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) has been reviewing and guiding the updates to the Ministerial Teams Terms of Reference (TOR). The TORs for some teams have been completed and approved by the Minister, while other teams are in the process of completing their updates. Eventually, all the Team TORs will be available for congregants to review and learn about the work of the various Teams.

One of the books the MTT recommends for learning about an Interim Ministry – its purpose, tasks undertaken, and goals – is ‘In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations’ edited by Barbara Child and Keith Kron. We thought it a timely book to recommend as we have one more year of Interim with Rev. Lara.

This book might inspire you to be more engaged in this process, which will help us work with the eventual settled minister as well!

There are copies of the book in the UCV Office that can be loaned out.

Submitted by Cynthia Lam & Elizabeth Dunn

Below is a review of some of the highlights of ‘In the Interim’ by MTT member Leslie Hill:

“The four essays I thought were most succinct and helpful for UCV are:

  • A Different Country by Judith Walker-Riggs
  • Mining, Minding and Making Stories by Pam Blevins Hinkle
  • Coming to Terms with History by David Keyes
  • The Interim Minister as Systems Analyst by Richard A. Nugent

A Different Country

“A peaceful, quiet interim period is one in which interim tasks are not completed, and needful changes do not happen.

Leadership and membership must come to understand the differences between called ministry and interim ministry. One way to increase this understanding is for the interim, the Transition Team, and the Board to talk about the differences explicitly and publicly.”

Mining, Minding, and Making Stories

“Telling our stories is not an end in itself, but an attempt to release ourselves from them, to evolve and grow beyond them. We tell our stories to transform ourselves; to learn about our history and tell our experiences to transcend them; to use our stories to make a difference in our world; to broaden our perspective to see further than normal; to act beyond a story that may have imprisoned or enslaved us; to live more of our spiritual and earthly potential.”  Huffington Post.

Coming to Terms with History

“Every congregation lives in dialogue with its past. Every congregation is strengthened immeasurably by its history, but every congregation has also been deeply wounded by its past. It is both the heir and the victim of its story. Affection transition ministry begins with a long look in the rearview mirror, where we must read the admonition: ‘Objects may be closer than they appear.’”

The Interim Minister as Systems Analyst

“Interim ministry is about inviting the present congregation to envision the congregation of tomorrow. It is about looking at the health of the congregation as a whole as well as each of its component parts. It is about coming to understand the emotions (grief, sadness, anger, disappointment, among others) associated with the end of the previous ministry and navigating the anxiety of looking ahead to the future ministry.”

In the Interim: Rekindling the spark, living with intention

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent. ~ Parker Palmer

It’s now two thousand and twenty-two, and we have so much work to do…

Albert Schweitzer said…”At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

For the last year and a half we’ve been walking on shifting ground. And before this, not a few us have experienced periods of darkness and uncertainty…a dimming, or even the total absence of the light of hope and faith in our lives. In those bleak and empty times, someone, or something, sparked and rekindled that inner light…and helped you move on.  Think on this and be grateful.

Now…I would ask you think on those times when YOU were the one that helped to light a candle of hope, or companionship, or compassion, or equal justice for someone (or something) in their personal darkness.

This is harder to do because we’ve been told since infancy that pride is a sin and not to be full of ourselves. I say NO to that. I believe we need to identify and take pride in what we are good at, otherwise, how else can we use that gift or strength to benefit others?

Our theme for this month of January is “Living with Intention.”

At the start of a new year some of us might struggle with looking at all the things we haven’t accomplished or tended to, despite our best intentions. As we think about living with intention as a way of connection to meaning and purpose, hear these words of wisdom from author and spiritual teacher of living in the real, hard beauty of life, Anne Lamott:

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were too jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical stillness and staring off into space like when you were a kid?

It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction––and is NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their finger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction and aim for that. Shoot the moon.”

Resilience and flexibility have been our mantras. I am so grateful for everyone here at UCV who continue to be nimble and quick to meet every challenge while caring deeply for our community in the safest ways possible. These times of uncertainty, when we must hold any plans loosely and be prepared to shift, we can reframe these challenges as opportunities. These moments, even with the loss and pain they may bring, are creative to their core, calling on our ability to reinvent, reimagine, and make the seemingly impossible very much possible.

My prayer-wish for us all is: “Let there be light.”


Reverend Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister, Vancouver Unitarians


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. 




Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim MInister


ROI Workshop – IN-PERSON, ON CAMPUS – ***!!! HURRAY !!!***

A first in the unwinding of Covid restrictions – eight Vancouver Unitarians gathered IN PERSON at UCV to participate in the Rethinking Our Identity (ROI) workshop. 

We worked together in pairs, sharing our best memories and hopes for this beloved community.




How did it go? 

Participants rated the workshop as VERY USEFUL – – more than 9 out of 10 on a scale from “not effective or useful” to “very effective and useful”

One participant noted that

The process itself was an example of meaningful connections when working in small groups at UCV.


Another noted that

Every member should take part in these workshops – interesting and very useful.



Contact [email protected] to register for an upcoming workshop or to learn more.

In the Interim: June 2021

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Kahlil Gibran

From our Soul Matters theme of “Play” for the month of June

We all are playing.
Playing it up, playing it down, trying to play fair.
Playing for keeps, playing favorites, playing it safe,
sometimes too safe.
He plays hardball; They’re playing house; I’m playing it by ear,
or at least learning to play it by ear.
She’s tired of playing second fiddle; He’s playing right into their hands. Please God, can’t we all just throw out the playbook and start again? Sometimes we’re just played out; it’s not always bad to play possum. And what about playing with fire?
Let’s hope so friends.
Don’t you want to feel again that burning within,
and let it loose?

As we move towards the Solstice and summertime, this month has many important milestones to be recognised: Father’s Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day, The Stonewall Riot anniversary, and Pride Month.  The Solstice marks a tipping point of the earth, from moving towards the light of the Sun to moving away from it and recognises the need for balance, for holding both the light and the dark. So too the Cultural Holidays we will mark have different sides. Sometimes joyful remembrances and sometimes painful.  Holding too tightly to only one side, or one story or one memory or context, limits our understanding and ability to grow, to learn, to change and develop new relationships in the world and with ourselves.  May this month of Play bring out the inner child in us all, to be able to see with new eyes, hear with open minds, try out new ways of thinking and doing, to find joy in places where there is also discomfort or pain, to smile through our tears. Let us move through the world with renewed energy and maybe even a light skip in our step, seeking out things that make us smile or even laugh. Let us remember how to play.

Welcome to the month of play. May we all take it seriously!

– Rev Lara. Cowtan

In the Interim May 2021

It is May. A month to celebrate Beltane, labyrinths, Mothers, Asian Heritage, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, Ramadan, Shavuot, Ascension and Pentecost  –  AND our Soul Matters theme for the month of May is “Story”.  I will come up with a very special prize for anyone who can write a short story that includes ALL of the things above to celebrate or honour this month! What does it mean to be a people of STORY?


The Canadian Unitarian Council Annual General Meeting is on May 8, and the National Conference May 14-16. Our virtual conference will celebrate how our UU faith and our connections are crucial to Sustaining Our Light through engaging workshops, meaningful connections, and moving worship services. Registration is open until May 9

A long standing tradition, the Confluence lecture, is shared as the conference keynote event on the opening evening. Our presenter is a minister, chosen by their peers to offer insight into the joys and concerns of our living tradition.

We are delighted that the 2021 Conference Lecturer is Rev. Anne Barker from Westwood Unitarian Congregation in Edmonton. This lecture is available to all, whether attending the conference or not.

The 2021 Confluence Lecture, A New Premise, will ask questions intended to gently interrupt us a little further, to imagine our collective future in a less familiar way. Anne Barker invites you to enter the experiment without a destination already in mind.

This year’s Confluence Lecture is a new concept – it is not a 1 hour lecture. Instead, Rev. Barker has prepared “A New Premise” video for you to view ahead of May 14th. Along with an introduction from the previous lecturer, the Reverend Karen Fraser-Gitlitz, this year’s work will be provided in three parts, each about fifteen minutes long, ending with an invitation for the viewer with:

    • ideas to ponder,
    • activities to try,
    • opportunities to interact with the material.

Watch the parts separately – or all at once – whatever suits you best. Explore the downloads for each part of the lecture. We hope that you will come to it with a spirit of curiosity and willingness, so we might work together to imagine a thriving future. Text for each part is available along with the full text of the entire lecture.

On the Friday evening of the conference, Rev. Barker will repeat the introduction, offer a short review to refresh your memory, and open the floor to questions and conversation.


Videos and Materials for the 2021 Confluence Lecture: A New Premise

Watch the introduction by Rev. Anne Barker and Rev. Karen Fraser-Gitlitz

View each part of the video and explore the downloads:

Part 1: What if we were wrong? – View Part 1/ text for Part 1

Download: Part 1 worksheet

Part 2: disComfort – View Part 2/text for Part 2

Download: white supremacy culture

Part 3: A New Premise – View Part 3 /text for Part 3)

Downloads for Part 3:

CUC’s Dismantling Racism Study Group National Survey: Dismantling Racism Study Group

Widening the Circle of Concern: Widening the Circle of Concern | Widening the Circle of Concern

Widening the Circle of Concern Study Guide: Widening the Circle of Concern Study/Action Guide 




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