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.

Pride Art Installation – Interfaith support letter from Rev. Lara

You may have heard or seen of the desecration of the art installation at our neighbour’s site, Shaughnessy United proclaiming the message “God’s doors are open to all.”

Rev. Lara has sent a message of support on behalf of our congregation.

In case you missed it, here are two links for you:

SHUC Blog

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/church-vandalized-pride-1.6066146

Photo from the CBC story

Dear Rev. Dave Moors, Shaughnessy United

Many of our members at Vancouver Unitarian heard with dismay and sadness (but lack of surprise, unfortunately) about the desecration of your Pride installation.
As a “welcoming congregation” (our denomination’s  equivalent of “affirming congregation”) I and our Genders and Sexualities Alliance wanted to send you and your congregation a message of support.
We are filled with admiration of the creativity, message and beauty of the installation and so glad to hear you remain undeterred and enthusiastic about restoring the doors to their original splendour.
Indeed, currently we have an installation related to residential schools on our corner of 49th & Oak, and you’ve inspired us to think about making a Pride installation for Vancouver pride weekend.
Always some good comes out of these incidents, but don’t we wish it was not necessary.
Please know also that we are practically neighbours and if there were any events or initiatives where you would feel it good to collaborate, we would welcome suggestions.
I look forward to meeting with you, as I will be serving the Vancouver Unitarians for another year or two during their transition to the next settled ministry, and hope we can work together on some of these critical social justice initiatives.
Blessings,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister
Vancouver Unitarians
https://vancouverunitarians.ca

Community Impact

Earlier this year, Vancouver Unitarians extended a grant to the Broadway Youth Services Centre (BYRC) through our stewardship with the Robert and Anna Koerner Community Fund. BYRC has been able to grow their food program and provide food security to participants and their families. Their program employs youth as peer navigators and has been a source of community support and pride during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are enriched by our capacity to reach out to the larger community in this way and have an impact beyond our walls. You can read the impactful thank you letter from the BYRC below.

Mystery Pals 2021

With adaptations, we went ahead with our Mystery Pal program this year to connect up people from different generations. Indeed we had the largest group ever: 14 pairs participated.

Most chose snail mail which came to UCV and then was forwarded, hence, the usual 4-week program became 8 to allow for postal forwarding; others chose to send email through a volunteer.

To offer assistance, we included artist trading card materials for those who wanted to create art to share–and many did!

As time went on, our hopes for a big reveal party were dashed by covid restrictions, so individual pairs and small groups have been meeting up in parks or at UCV. Here’s a poem and some photos.

Mystery Pal Revealed so much

by Vivian Davidson

Being a mystery pal was as fun as it was exciting,

To exchange letters had me antsy to keep writing.

I loved learning more and more about my mystery friend

I could hardly wait for my fresh letter to send.

I am grateful to have had this opportunity

To engage so intimately with someone in my UCV community.

To feel the paper, read the words sent to me by my pal

Was something so wonderful forever treasure I shall.

I hope others in the future engage in this wonderful treat

For it’s rare to get the chance to learn about others at UCV you meet.

It was exciting to think about and plan what to say and write

Oh my watch my grammar, serendipitous did I spell it right?

I learned letter by letter about my special pal and their likes

That included leaves and stickers, dolphins and hikes.

I can now certainly attest to how great it is to have a mystery pal

It was my first time and certainly a boost to my morale.

I will be back and ready to write, draw, paint and send

What a great way for a lonely day or weary heart to mend.

For this mystery pal exchange is a real treat for the young and young at heart

And made me feel special and that to UCV’s community I really am a part.

 

We try to match up pals with something in common: Paula is an artist and loved her exchanges with her artist pal.

Here’s what she says:

Who couldn’t use an emergency packet of confetti?

My last package included a great picture of a unicorn with very long legs and a long  neck and a little horn, a thin long multicoloured banner announcing I LOVE PURPLE,  a bracelet made of beads and pipe cleaners and best of all a custom packet of homemade confetti . On the outside it said  I LOVE MAKING THINGS.  IN FACT i:AM AN ARTIST.
Who couldn’t use an emergency packet of confetti? They are little  bundles of  joy coming coming through the post and  it just makes my day when I receive one  🙂
-Paula

Their pair had the codename “Wolfgang Gerson” and it accidentally led Paula to exploring the theme of home/buildings and a connection with a student and friend of Wolfgang’s, the architect of our buildings.

 

 

Are you interested in learning more about this program?

Contact Kiersten or ucvconnect@gmail.com

Let’s Remember How We Got Here

Before we go off in all directions for the summer, let us recall the sequence of events that have transpired and brought us to this place, because when we return in the fall, ‘this place’ will not have pews, it will have beautiful new chairs. It will also have new lighting and sound systems.

Changing the pews to chairs was suggested by Steven Epperson a year ago and has been discussed casually for some years. Steven brought it up again right before he left, urging us to upgrade and share our Sanctuary with the wider community, thus attracting diverse younger people. He specifically said to the Board that he felt the pews should be replaced by chairs so that the space is more adaptable; this could greatly enhance our community outreach efforts and thus keep UCV relevant and sustainable.

Then, when UCV was offered an anonymous gift to upgrade the lights and sound of the Sanctuary shortly after Steven left, the Board did some research as to what an upgraded Sanctuary could give us, and the larger community. Moreover, a UCV Young Persons Task Force was formed and they submitted a fulsome report about what young Unitarians want from their spiritual home.

Our research and this report revealed that replacing the pews with chairs would give us a space that is much more flexible and could therefore accommodate various forms of worship, walking meditation, circle dance, Indigenous and other cultural forms of ceremony, Jazz Festival events, cabaret fundraisers, and Writers Festival events, to illustrate just a few. It would also allow folks with physical challenges, such as people in wheelchairs, to sit up front and not have to be relegated to the back of the room. The room could also be configured into a circle, the most democratic of configurations, allowing everyone equal status and accessibility.

So in short, it became evident that changing pews to chairs needed to be part of our Sanctuary upgrades because changing pews to chairs deepens our commitment to radical inclusivity. Moreover, the Sanctuary upgrades project furthers our community outreach and membership-building efforts. Having the Sanctuary empty during the pandemic seemed like an ideal time to make all the upgrades.

So the Board engaged the congregation in discussions around the possibility of Sanctuary upgrades (which included replacing pews with chairs) in fall of 2020, and the response we received at the forum we held at that time was enthusiastically in favour of the changes.

Following this engagement with the membership, we brought it to a discussion and a vote at the AGM in November 2020. At that vote during the AGM, the vast majority of UCV members voted in favour of the Sanctuary upgrades and changing the pews to chairs while keeping the balcony pews in tact and a few on the sides.

In this way, our beautiful Sanctuary will become a more welcoming space for various forms of worship, various physical abilities, become a cultural destination, and most importantly, attract a younger and more diverse demographic to our Church which will ensure that UCV will thrive into the future.

This has been a very challenging time for all of us, and as a congregation we continue to rise and meet those challenges as best we can. Although change is always difficult, we know from experience that from every ending comes a new beginning. I hope you will embrace our new Sanctuary this fall, and all the possibilities it affords.

With that thought and on behalf of the UCV Board of Trustees, I wish you a safe and peaceful summer.

Best wishes, Diane Brown, UCV Board Chair.

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.

 

BEAT THE COVID BLUES — JOIN UCV FRIENDS ON CAMPUS FOR A WORKSHOP.

Contact identityproject@vancouverunitarians.ca to register for an upcoming workshop or to learn more.

June 18 Friday Film Night- Indigenous Peoples Day

In honour of National Indigenous History Month, the UCV BIPOC Caucus is proud to present:

 

Unceded Chiefs (2019) 1hr 3 min

 

 

 

The film is not released to the public yet and will only be available to us until June 18.

To view, contact us for the link and password ucvconnect@gmail.com

 

 

Friday Film Night Discussion on Zoom : June 18, 7-8pm

Special guest, producer, Doreen Manuel

Everyone from the congregation and the greater community welcome!

Click Here to Join Zoom Discussion

This new film covers the historic early activism of BC First Nations Leaders who in the late 1960’s unified to reject Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s proposed 1969 White Paper Policy. Director Doreen Manuel skillfully weaves a story of resilience and determination through interviews and archival audio with the people who lived the battle and the children of the Chiefs who had dedicated their lives to the survival of their Aboriginal title and rights.

Naomi Klein: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLafbWVDugU 

Lorne Cardinal:  https://vimeo.com/394718492 

Facebook: 

 

 

 

 

Help your GSA show how Welcoming we can be

Link to Saturday June 12 interactive panel discussion details

Log in for the discussion here.

Our Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) is leading an effort to have UCV recertified as a Welcoming Congregation.

Since we first became a Welcoming Congregation in 1995 the world has changed.  For one thing, there was no mention back then of gender identity or trans issues.  To address this, the UUA decided to be bolder with our Welcome in 2018.

The Five Practices of Welcome Renewal are five benchmarks that every congregation will need to integrate into congregational life in order to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, genderqueer, non-binary, and the like feel fully welcomed, centered, and embraced in our congregation.

Welcoming Congregations are required to meet the benchmarks annually in order to remain “current” as a Welcoming Congregation. This year so far UCV has completed three of the Benchmarks, and a fourth has been planned.

The 5th benchmark is an educational event.  For this the GSA has organized the panel on June 12 to discuss Mairy Beam’s play, What Difference Does it Make, which deals with issues of gender identity.  We need 10% of the members to attend to show that we are, indeed, interested to be bolder and to renew our Welcoming congregation certification.

Can you help us show how welcoming we are by attending this educational event?

Details of event are here.

 

Statement on Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

The Vancouver Unitarians condemn the recent act of violent terrorism that killed four members of a Muslim family in Ontario, orphaning a nine year old boy. We are shocked and horrified by this premeditated hate crime, and stand in solidarity with our Muslim siblings.  Islamophobia and racism have no place in our world. We celebrate diversity and are one human family. No-one should have to live in fear of violence or discrimination.

We will hold the victims of this tragedy close to our hearts, and share our deepest condolences with their family and friends and with the Islamic community. The people of London, Ontario, Muslims all across Canada, and indeed all Canadians have been hurt by this attack, and all of humanity is diminished by it. We will stand alongside our local Muslim communities and support its members as they mourn. We will show those who hate that their hatred isn’t welcome, isn’t shared, and will be confronted and rejected at every turn with calls for justice, solidarity and compassion.

We will be sharing suggested resources for people to become better informed and engaged in actively supporting anti-Islamophobia and our local Muslim communities, and welcome suggestions and invitations for involvement.

With blessings and in faith,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Remember the Children – June 5 Event

Thirty people helped to create an orange installation on our corner and magically (with hard work) transform a labyrinth full of buttercup weeds into a bright orange spectacle.

Throughout June, Indigenous Peoples Month, we expect to host more gatherings to make sure both sites remain beautiful and invite our neighbours and our own community to come and participate.

49th and Oak Corner

With the terrible news about the  abused and murdered children buried in a mass grave at the Kamloops residential school, I wanted to do something at UCV to  acknowledge the pain and reflect our growing awareness and demands for change. The UCV community  had already agreed to donate money to the IRSSS (Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society), but I wanted to also put on a public face to  remind others not in our community that we ALL need to care and remember.

What started  out as an idea to put a few children’s toys by the trees, grew into an act of community solidarity and art.
On Saturday June 5, while volunteers planted 215 marigolds into the labyrinth, about a dozen adults and children braved the traffic noise at the corner of Oak and 49th to cover the UCV sign and nearby trees with  orange ribbons, flowers, tshirt cutouts and signs. A project to attach 215 strands of wool to a clothes line was started as a visceral example of how large a number 215 is!
The rains came at night and the ribbons and signs are soggy.  We will need to refresh the signs, add more wool strands (because 215 is only the start) and straighten the ribbons next week.
Perhaps this is the first time we’ve decorated our corner?! Let it not be the last.
-Tamiko Suzuki

Labyrinth

215 orange flowers on the labyrinth

This vision just popped into my head as I, like many, started thinking: but what can *I* do? There’s so much that can be done and I’m very proud to be part of UCV as we’ve made a statement and donated money.
I so appreciate the number of people who brought flowers, worked long and hard to prep the labyrinth (it was badly in need of weeding) and then planted the orange blooms. Plus there are 48 nasturtiums not yet in bloom. It will “orange-up” over the next while.
What moved me most was the number of side conversations I witnessed as we worked – and connected with each other over the time.
Thank you to our minister, Rev. Lara Cowtan, for beautiful and moving words and an ongoing pastoral presence.
(There are still a few buttercups and lots of grass where it shouldn’t be, so if you’re ever inclined to spend a couple of hours there, do please contact me and we can set something up.)
– Mary Bennett

Want to be involved?

If you want to receive information on how to help with these two projects, contact Mary through ucvconnect@gmail.com

UCV Actions

UCV President has made a statement and our Outreach Opportunities Fund have donated $3000 with more to come to Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS).

Message from the Outreach Opportunities Fund Committee.

A $3000 donation from the balance of the OOF account has been made by UCV, effective immediately, to support the work of the Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS).

In order to support the increased demand for their services, the IRSSS will also be the recipient of the OOF effective July 1.
As we all know, the impact of residential schools on the Indigenous population has been profound. The IRSSS was established with the mission to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.
– OOF Committee, June 2021

 

 

President’s Statement on Kamloops Residential School

The UCV Board of Trustees would like to express our deep sorrow for the 215 children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. We grieve for these children and their families. But we must not look away from this horror. Let us examine our troubled history, and ourselves, and bear witness to the history and lived experience of residential school survivors and their families. Let us look the facts in the face and transform through intentional action, on a personal and societal level, this white colonial empire that is still doing great harm. And let us Unitarians acknowledge that we have an opportunity within our midst to intentionally and accountably commit to dismantling racism within our congregations and within the UU movement by adopting the proposed 8th Principle.

These children were removed from their families by the federal government and forced to attend the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These children died while under the ‘care’ of the federal government and school staff. We know, as the Truth and Reconciliation Report released in 2015 has confirmed, that residential schools were “a systemic government-sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples.” We know that thousands of residential school survivors have confirmed experiencing emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of school staff. We know the sad truth that these 215 children are just a small portion of the thousands who were murdered by the residential school system.

If you are looking for next steps in this moment, here are some of the resources that Indigenous groups and individuals have generously shared over the last few days. A vigil will be held, Remember the Children, Wednesday June 2 at 6 pm at Grandview Park (1657 Charles Street, Vancouver).

Resources and services for Indigenous folks:

If you’re a settler, here are some places where you can make a donation to support residential school survivors and their families:

If you’re a settler, here are some educational resources on residential schools:

Image by Mike Labrum via Unsplash.com