Category: Interim Ministry

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 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