Category: Recent News

The monthly e-newsletter selects about 5 news posts with this category. Priorities are news relevant to a wide number of people and especially of interest to visitors or new folk.

Big Decisions ➔ Big Impact: UCV’s Decision-Making Task Force 

UCV spent four years carefully researching redevelopment options for our property and seeking input from congregants before deciding through our democratic vote at the November 2020 AGM to not proceed with any property redevelopment at this time. The Redevelopment Committee and the Board took many steps to ensure a fair and inclusive process. Along the way there were passionate expressions and inevitable questions and concerns, along with appreciations of the efforts and care taken by those involved.

Following this AGM vote to not proceed with redevelopment, the Board asked the Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) to create a task force to gather input about this long and complex process and to prepare a report with recommendations for future decision-making. The Decision-Making Task Force (DMTF) was launched in January 2021. The DMTF will also look at how well the congregation followed our established Covenant of Healthy Relations during this lengthy process and make recommendations about how we can make this Covenant a living document.

The members of the Task Force want to hear from you if you have specific concerns or kudos about the redevelopment decision-making process (not about the result of the actual vote). By process we include the actions of the Redevelopment Committee, the Board, other committees, the congregation at large, and any others who may have had some influence. For example, what were the strengths of the process? Were there aspects that were concerning or not clear enough, and/or areas requiring more support?  What lessons can we learn from this experience to apply in future high-stakes decision-making processes at UCV?

Please contact us at and we will arrange for an interview.

The DMTF (Nancy Barker, Cindy Cashin, Rob Dainow, Leslie Kemp, Michael O’Neil, John Smith)

Challenging Racist British Columbia

July 20, 2021 is the 150 year anniversary of so-called British Columbia and a recent publication by CCPA provides sobering history.

The Social Justice Committee plans to host a book study group over the summer to discuss this important publication. Please email if you are interested in joining us. Click here to download this 80 page booklet.

Below is the description of Challenging Racist “British Columbia” .. 150 Years and Counting provided by the CCPA:
“This booklet dives into the long history of racist policies that have impacted Indigenous, Black and racialized communities in the province over the last 150 years since BC joined Canada. The illustrated booklet, co-published by the CCPA-BC Office, ties the histories of racism and resistance to present day anti-racist movements.

Co-authored by Nicholas XEMŦOLTW̱ Claxton, Denise Fong, Fran Morrison, Christine O’Bonsawin, Maryka Omatsu, John Price and Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, the 80-page, illustrated booklet is being released in advance of the 150th anniversary, which is on July 20, 2021. This engaging resource has been designed to assist anti-racist educators, teachers, scholars, policymakers and individuals doing anti-racism work to help pierce the silences that too often have let racism grow in our communities, corporations and governments.”

Playlist : All My Relations

All My Relations, Religious Naturalism and The Heart of a Faith for the 21st Century

UCV Podcasts

All My Relations



Aline LaFlamme
Her name means the light (Aline) and the flame (LaFlamme.) She also carries the name Many Buffalo Running. Aline is a grandmother and Metis from Alberta. Among her many gifts she leads a drumming circle called Daughters of the Drum

Martha Saunders
joined UCV in the fall of 2018. She taught religious studies and women’s studies for many years at Concordia University, Montreal, and at the University of Toronto, specializing in religious and environmental ethics


Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson
was parish minister of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver for 19 years, retiring in 2020. Prior to entering professional ministry, Steven worked as a university professor in the history of religions, and as a museum curator


All My Relations
by Aline LaFlamme
April 17, 2019


Living Within the Interdependent Web
by Martha Saunders
August 4, 2019


Religious Naturalism
by Rev. Steven Epperson
March 24, 2019


Religious Naturalism — Take Two
by Rev. Steven Epperson
April 14, 2019

Women’s Meditative Poetry Circle

Do you need more poetry in your life? UCV women in collaboration with the Canadian U*U Women’s Association offer a women’s meditative poetry gathering three times per week on zoom.

  • Note new time: First Tuesdays at 5 pm Pacific/ 8 pm Eastern – a focus on poetry related to environment/climate change
  • Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am Pacific/12 noon Eastern
Click the following link to join the gathering:
Mary Bennett started this following Rev. Lara’s “Lectio Divina” series in October, 2020. Mary’s objective is to make her mornings go better and read more poetry. Both are almost lifelong goals worth revisiting regularly and it’s working.
You are invited if you identify as a woman or are non-binary, gender queer or gender fluid. I/we invite suggestions how to ensure this is a welcoming space for you.
The facilitator will:
  • Read a poem written by a (usually) Canadian (almost always) woman three times with a one-minute pause and brief sharing between.
  • Participants will listen during the first reading for words or phrases that strike them.
  • Second reading, listen for feelings or memories that are stirred.
  • Third reading, listen for a message or personal meaning.
  • We usually have about a minute’s of silence after each reading and then, as we’re usually a small group of 3 or 4, everyone shares briefly. We’re always finished within half an hour.

We have an email group. If you want to e-meet the other group members and receive occasional reminders or links to poetry, please join by sending an email to 

See the CUUWA page here:

Board Statement on Anti-Racism

The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver condemns the mass murder of the Asian women in Atlanta and anti-Asian racism and misogyny in Canada. Let us light a candle. Let us say a few words. Let us have a moment of silence. But also let us speak up and stand up when you see bullying, racism and misogyny. Stand up in support of Asians and BIPOC and women. As Unitarians, we know that silence is not an option. As Unitarians, we know that to do nothing makes us complicit. So let us be courageously Unitarian and commit every day to standing up and ending injustice.

Women’s Memoir Writing Series

Note: This series is now at capacity.

If you registered by sending an email to Mary prior to Saturday, March 27, and haven’t received a confirmation email, please send another email to the address below.

Our Lives as Stories

Maybe you would like to commit to paper (or your laptop) a few of the stories knocking around inside you. Maybe you’re seeking a new way to deepen your understanding of yourself and your connection with others. Or maybe you’ve been longing to write your memoir. Whichever is the case, this series of workshops could get you started.

Session 1: Finding Stories. (Gathering the Sensory and Emotive Details)

Session 2: The Craft and Building Blocks of Stories.  (Writing the Scene(s))

Session 3: From Draft to Polished. (Giving and Receiving Feedback)

⦁ The three two-hour workshops will be spaced a month apart providing lots of time in between for other activities.
⦁ For the first two sessions, the whole group (up to twenty participants) will meet for instruction and guided exercises. Sharing time will involve breakout rooms of five or six, and everyone will be invited to share a portion of their work with Maggie by email if they wish.
⦁ The third workshop will happen in 3 sessions, with up to six gathering each time, to share their work and give and receive guided feedback.

FREE to UCV members
$100 registration fee for non-members


Maggie de Vries is the author of eleven books including the Governor General Literary Award nominated Missing Sarah: A Memoir of Loss and teen novel, Rabbit Ears, winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. Maggie’s TEDxSFU talk The Red Umbrella: Sex Work, Stigma and the Law has been viewed more than forty-thousand times. Hooker Monologues, a collaborative production Maggie co-produced, co-wrote and performed in, staged six sold-out shows at Vancouver’s Firehall Arts Centre in 2016.

Maggie was children’s book editor at Orca Book Publishers for seven years and a substitute teacher in Surrey for five. In 2005 and 2012, she was the inaugural writer in residence at VPL and UNBC respectively. For some years now, she has been a Lecturer in UBC’s Creative Writing Program, and a Martha-Beck-certified Life Coach who mentors writers, runs workshops, leads writing retreats and offers creative writing courses in her Ladysmith, Vancouver Island community and beyond.

She is in the process of reconnecting with UCV, where she was married in 1995 and attended more and more regularly from 1999 until she moved away from the city in 2017.

Dates: May 8, May 29 (2 – 4 pm)

June 19/20 The last class is meant to be divided into three groups for workshopping, with Maggie present for each one. People will sign up for one of these slots: Saturday: 9:30 to 11:30, 12:30 to 2:30 or 3 to 5 or Sunday: 12:30 to 2:30 or 3 to 5.

Registration required: contact Mary Bennett

Zoom link will be sent to registered participants before the first session.
Minimum: 10; Maximum: 20 participants

Supported by the Vancouver Unitarian Women’s Retreat Fund.

Registration fees and donations will be used to replenish the fund for future events.


Insightful, hardworking, thoughtful and encouraging, Maggie provided the literary expertise to solve the structural and editorial issues that plagued early drafts of my memoir.  Coincidently, she identified areas where I struggled to probe and encouraged me to explore, improve and flourish.  She helped me to dig deeper and write better. Maggie is terrific!

Renée Hetherington, MBA, PhD
Writer, Scientist and Businesswoman
British Columbia, Canada
February, 2021

Maggie de Vries runs a humdinger of a writing retreat. In an island setting, I was so deeply comforted by the schedule she set for us—one I could decide not to partake of at any moment should the writing bug o’er take me or should I simply need a walk in the woods—that I was inspired to fully involve myself in the opportunities. I was encouraged to share my writing, something I’m truly not used to doing, and I found it thrilling; that shell remains open, well after the retreat, and I’m delighted to feel the change.
Maggie took care of each of us by combining inviting reflection and prompt-driven writing sessions, literary focus, and guided workshops with lots of individually spent time too: free writing in our separate (stunningly beautiful) spots and one-to-one sessions with Maggie.  These check-ins allowed us to look wide to see the larger project and then to perceive the minute detail of scene writing and character perspective.
All that Maggie engaged us in over the 3-day retreat stays with me, weeks later, because I heard myself articulate a deep desire to do this. I said it in a safe and supportive environment; that baby step feels giant to me now. And Maggie helped us envision each of our books in the mess of journals and papers, in the engagement and the intention of the writer. I see these things now. I am showing up for this part of myself.
Thanks, Maggie, for knowing the world of writing so thoroughly and letting us in on its mysteries and delights.

Jane Slemon
Retreat Participant
UCV Member
November, 2019


Maggie’s experience as an author and writing coach has given me the courage to finally write my memoir. Her guidance has helped me see more clearly how to structure my book, stay true to my purpose, and tell a story that will engage the reader.  I know I couldn’t do this without her expertise and dedicated commitment to my project. Thank you, Maggie

Jeri Ross, MPH
Licensed Health Educator & Entrepreneur
Author of See You in the Sky: A Memoir of Prison, Possibility and Peace
Santa Cruz, California
June, 2018


PDF Description

Women’s Memoir Writing Series – Google Docs



Membership Outreach Coordinator Job Posting

Membership Outreach Coordinator Job Posting

Closing date – Mar 29th, 2021

Vancouver Unitarians have been part of Vancouver’s religious and cultural life since 1909. Our vision: Because we envision a more compassionate world, we seek to deepen our spiritual and religious lives, grow and enrich our congregation, and advocate for love and justice. Our congregation welcomes all ages, orientations, abilities, and identities in our joyous search for meaning.


The Membership/Outreach Coordinator will engage current members and work towards expanding our community outreach and growing our membership. The position reports to the Congregational Administrator but works closely with the Minister and Director of Lifespan Learning (DLL).


Community Engagement

  • Promote programs and facilities in the wider community
  • Ensure facility and program descriptions are up to date and widely available
  • Create and manage social media strategy


  • Monitor and reply in a timely manner to all contacts and requests (Breeze contact form, email, phone calls, etc.) for information by newcomers, visitors and members seeking to connect with programs or information about membership
    • This includes compiling data and reporting on procedures to evaluate the church’s success in connecting with newcomers and members
  • Assists the DLL with the coordination of the new member orientation classes
  • With the support of the Membership Committee, the DLL, and the Minister, works to connect, engage and integrate visitors, members and friends into the life of the congregation with a particular focus on young adults

Volunteer Coordination

  • Recruit volunteers for key membership roles
  • Support volunteer recruitment for other functions
  • Create and help sustain a method of collecting information on the interests and skills of members

Program Support

  • Assist the DLL with providing start-up support for new groups, such as setting up Zoom meetings or announcements as needed
  • Provide support to key committees (Environment, Refugee, etc.)
  • Assist in maintaining accurate member information in the church database (Breeze)
  • Assist members with the use of technology when needed

Other duties, as may be assigned by the Congregational Administrator


  • Ability to understand and support Unitarian Universalist Principles, and the vision and mission of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver
  • Strong ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with staff and volunteers
  • Proven experience in working with volunteers and volunteer committees
  • Excellent ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent oral communication and interpersonal communication skills
  • Excellent organizational skills, especially in an office setting
  • Experience with office software, electronic communications, and social media (MS Word, Breeze, Zoom)
  • Demonstrated experience in managing digital tools and social media platforms, such as WordPress, Google Workspace (G Suite), Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Ability to promote UCV in the wider community

Hours of Work 

  • 20 to 35 hours/week
  • Flexible hours with some Sunday and evening shifts required


  • Salary range: $27 to $32/hour commensurate with experience
  • UCV policy is to grant annual COLA increases
  • Comprehensive medical benefits

Application deadline: March 29th 2021

Please submit both a cover letter and resume to: No phone calls please. Only those chosen for an interview will be contacted. Thank you for your interest in working with Vancouver Unitarians.

This position is not open to current members of UCV.

Anti-Racism Resources

Last summer, there was a huge public response in support of Black Lives Matter as well as a call to uplift and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of lives that are continually devalued in racist systems. As Unitarians, we are committed to justice, equity, and compassion in all human relations. It is important to us to continue this conversation, not just in response to the media and public outcry but as a function of our ongoing dedication to see real change occur at all levels.

We want to refresh and promote the resources we shared last summer. We are grateful for submissions from members and friends in keeping this resource list current.

Within our own organization, we are working to decolonize our systems and have arranged a Decolonizing Practices Workshop for staff, board members and congregants. Check out the link for more information – this will take place April 24th, 2021 from 10am to 3pm.

If you would like to add resources to a permanent “Antiracism Learning” page please email

Anti-Racism Statements and Resources

Unitarian Universalist Statements

  1. Statement on Anti-Racism from the UCV Board
  2. Canadian Unitarian Council Statement on Mourning the Deaths of More People of Colour
  3. Black Lives Matter Statement by Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
  4. A pastoral letter to Black UUs by Rev. Lauren Smith in UU World, 6/4/2020
  5. Stop Calling the Police and Start Eradicating Anti-Blackness UUA statement and call to action, with links. June 2, 2020
  6. An Awful, Magnificent Truth by Rev. Carol Thomas Cissel in UUA’s Braver/Wiser Inspiration
  7. UUA Prayer Vigil #wecantbreate YouTube Video

Vancouver-Based Mental Health and Self-Care Resources for BIPoC Congregants and Friends

  1. Black Lives Matter Vancouver has a detailed and comprehensive list of legal, community, mental health and wellness services here
  2. Healing in Colour provides a list of therapists who have agreed to a statement of values
  3. Mental Health Issues Facing the Black Community free health guide from Sunshine Behavioural Health
  4. Alica Forneret provides mental health by and for PoC
  5. Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society provides inclusive, accessible, and culturally-based healthcare and social services.

Ally Learnings for White Congregants and Friends

  1. Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
  2. The 8th Principle project of Unitarian Universalism
  3. Black Lives UU Spiritual Subscription Box
  4. The Church of the Larger Fellowship an American UU congregation “without walls”
  5. Resources based on your current stage of racial identity development
  6. Support Black Owned Businesses 

Anti-Racist Parenting

  1. Antiracist Education Resources compiled by Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan
  2. “How To Be An Antiracist Parent” recording from Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan
  3. Resource roundup for parents
  4. Anti-racism resources for white people and for parents to raise anti-racist children
  5. Resources for Talking About Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids from the Center for Racial Justice in Education
  6. The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story pushing awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.
  7. A fabulous list of children’s ebooks from the VPL called “Stand Up! Racial Identity, Racism, and Resistance for Grades K-7”

Canadian General Anti-Racist Resources

  1. Systemic Racism Explained in under 5 minutes
  2. The Story of Slavery in Canadian History at the Canadian Human Rights Museum
  3. The Canadian federal government page of anti-racism resources
  4. Vancouver Mutual Aid Organizations and Resource List
  5. Black Lives Matter Vancouver 
  6. Feminists Deliver: Confronting Anti-Black Racism in Canada (video: a panel of 8 Canadian Women of Colour)
  7. The University of Toronto Anti-Black Racism Reading List


“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
—Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.)

In the Interim, March 2021

“Inevitably in our lives we commit ourselves to something, whether worthy or not. The direction and intensity of our loyalties give shape and meaning to our lives. Loyalties, commitments, covenants, the promises we make to one another: These are the things [that] tell us to what we belong. By doing so they tell us who we are.”

– Henry Nelson Wieman

Ah, March. The beginning of Spring, when Earth re-awakens with a promise of buds, blooms and birdsong.   As the weather warms, I have been dreaming of sailing, so please permit me the use of some nautical metaphor in this month’s column.  Our Soul Matters theme for the month of March is “Commitment”. What does it mean to be a people of commitment?

We set a course to a destination, and even when the winds and current may favour a different direction, we hold steady. We may encounter rocks or storms or even a sunny beach that pull us away for a time, even make us re-evaluate and maybe change our course. And then we set sights on a star or horizon or port and continue, forward.  Not having a goal is perilous, and wasteful of the precious days we have on this earth.  Author Paulo Coelho wrote in Brida, “I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself. She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none.”

This is the season of Lent, February 17 -April 3.  Those who observe Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give up something—a habit, like smoking, watching TV, swearing, or a food or drink, such as sweets, wine, or coffee. Some Christians also take on a Lenten discipline, like reading the Bible and spending more time in prayer to draw nearer to God.

This is done both as a form of penitence and as a spiritual tool to tame the body and ‘sharpen the spirit’ for prayer, reflection and contemplation in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

Christians and non-Christians alike, habitual behaviours tend to shape our lives. It is a good practice to examine our choices by adding or removing things for a period of time so that we may consciously commit to what we truly want directing the course of our lives, not just staying on auto-pilot. So, spend this month adding a new helpful habit to your life or removing an unhelpful one.

We constantly make commitments to ourselves, to eat better and exercise more, take more time for ourselves. We commit to relationships, even when the going gets tough, even when, sometimes, we decide to let it go and start over again.

Membership at UCV is a commitment to this community, to belong to, participate in, support and be part of a diverse, inclusive group of people, some who share similar interests and some who are connected only by the experience of belonging. In this time of Covid-19, when we cannot gather in person, there is a real challenge to feeling like we are truly connecting with one another, to being in community. And yet, being a member is a commitment that can weather this storm of distance and change.

The most important reason why people become members of our congregations: the need for growth and transformation. Theologian James Luther Adams reminds us that for practitioners of liberal religion, “revelation is continuous.”  Throughout our lives we humans are learning, growing, changing creatures. Using both reason and intuition, we spend our lives seeking to enlarge our understanding of ourselves and others and the world around us.

The possibility of growth and change, of transformation, is the real basis for participation in a religious community. We have all experienced losses and disappointments, pain and grief. We have been broken by life and need healing. The closest that contemporary Unitarian Universalists may come to a concept of salvation is to offer opportunities for growth and transformation, for becoming more whole. As one of the great ministers of the past century, Rev. A. Powell Davies, memorably put it, “Life is just a chance to grow a soul.”

As your interim minister, I am committed to you, to each one of you and to UCV. To nurturing, supporting, guiding and even challenging you to live into the promise that is this religious community. UCV has been a liberal religious, social-justice-minded, progressive community for over a century, a beacon in Vancouver. UCV has stayed active and relevant through generation after generation of sometimes stormy times by being committed to its purpose, guided by its vision and driven by people who recognise that UCV is precious and truly needed in this world.  Together, we will navigate the choppy waters of this pandemic and time of transition, holding before us the vision and purpose of UCV that binds us together in religious community.

If you have questions about becoming a member, or think you are a member but have not yet signed the book, please contact me at  Making connections is the essence of the religious experience, and that connection goes both ways.

Brightest Blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister

Big Decisions ➔ Big Impact: Introducing UCV’s Decision-Making Task Force

At the November 2020 AGM, the congregation voted to not proceed with developing the property at UCV. This followed a four-year process on the part of the Development Committee to carefully research options and to seek input from UCV congregants. Although many steps were taken to ensure a fair and inclusive process, some congregants were concerned about some aspects of the process.

In response, the Board asked the Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) to create a task force to hear from those who have concerns and to see if there are lessons to be incorporated into future high-stakes decision-making processes at UCV. The Decision-Making Task Force (DMTF) was launched in January 2021.

We on the Task Force want to hear from you if you have specific concerns about the process—and/or if you have appreciations for specific aspects of the process. Please contact us at

DMTF members (Nancy Barker, Cindy Cashin, Rob Dainow, Leslie Kemp, Michael O’Neil, John Smith)