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.

What do we call ourselves – summary of June 2022 survey


A paper copy of the WDWCO survey was handed out at the Sunday services of June 19 and 26. After June 26, the survey went online with the submission deadline of 06 July 2022. 122 people responded – 81 by paper, and 41 online. 103 were members, 16 were friends, and 3 were visitors.



All Respondents (n = 122)
Very Positive Moderately Positive Neutral Moderately Negative Very Negative No Answer
Keep Current Name 20% 17% 15% 30% 16% 2%
If I Have My choice of a name 53% 23% 14% 4% 6% 0%
Keep Acronym UCV 22% 39% 22% 7% 8% 2%
Unitarian Campus of Van. 5% 7% 9% 30% 41% 7%
Unitarian Centre of Van. 21% 25% 11% 18% 16% 8%
Unitarian Community of Van. 37% 22% 15% 8% 15% 3%
Unitarian Congregation of Van. 24% 29% 17% 16% 10% 5%
Vancouver Unitarians 39% 25% 18% 7% 7% 4%

*Positive means willing, satisfied, important. *Negative means unwilling, dissatisfied, unimportant




While some wish to retain “Church” and others don’t, many expressed a willingness for a name change if it is in the best interests of our future viability.


Love for our spiritual community:

Steven Epperson’s very clear statement at the New U in a Day session in November 2010 that Unitarians are people who form spiritual communities with ”no dogma and no hierarchy” made me want to join UCV, and I signed the membership book at the end of the session that day.

We need younger members – what would connect with this group?  I realize my choice may not be chosen.  But I hope that our wonderful group will remain for 100 more years.

I am new to this community and love the work that is being done here.  I do feel slightly uncomfortable saying “church” so I do not use it when describing where I am on Sundays. Perhaps a name change would entice other younger and possibly those who are racialized or minorities to join.


Love for the WDWCO Task Force:

Thank you for undertaking this survey. I hope you get a lot of responses and I look forward to seeing the results.

 Many thanks to you all – Eva, Louise, Sheila, Carrie, and John – for doing this important work.

 Good work.  Carry on.

 Thank you! I hope enough people complete this survey in time.

 I am very grateful for this opportunity.  Many thanks to the careful wording of this request.

 Excellent survey!

Thank you for asking and for your work!

No love from one survey participant – This survey is manipulative because it assumes name change is happening and hence is worthless.


Love for Church as our name:

 We’re a church.  It’s a flexible word.  It’s a social contract.  It feels weaselly to drop it; like we’re happy to enjoy all the privileges churches have without having to carry the baggage.  Will a more neutral term attract newcomers?  Maybe.  Will it disproportionally attract people who want to escape the work of examining privilege and dismantling systems of oppression by congratulating ourselves that “we’re not like THOSE guys” and rolling gaily on?  Maybe.

 The word ‘church’ helps identify us to others.  What’s more, it translates into French easily.

I am just fine with Unitarian Church of Vancouver. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

 It’s extremely important to me that spirituality remain at the forefront of our name and activities.  Social action, arts, etc., are integral but not central. “Church” says spiritual/religion to me.  The other names do not.

 If we cease to call ourselves a church, are we still self-identifying as a religion?

 The only “C” word that makes sense to me is “Church.”  The other options all have different meanings to different people.  Either keep Church or don’t, but don’t try to make something fit that doesn’t.

 I’m not unsatisfied with the word “church” being used but I do find myself explaining that we are non-denominational, not “Christian Church” but welcome diverse orientations to faith and belief systems.


Love for a change to our name:

Do not like Church.

I’m strongly in favour of changing the name to something I feel is more appropriate for today.  Mostly I want the word ‘church’ gone.

I am in favour of losing “church” and very open to whatever people are comfortable with.

Please think outside the box.  There are too many long-time members who don’t want to let go of the church.  It alienates and confuses so many people.  if you want to be relevant to newer generations, to survive (I don’t see it ever thriving), you need to move away from “church.

The word “church” could be a barrier for indigenous community.

I think it is important to not use the word “church” – mostly because there are a number of members, I’ve spoken with who really cannot abide this word.

I strongly support a change from “church” – it denotes a Christian denomination which we are not.  Also, some people may have had negative experiences with Christian churches so this word may not be welcoming/appropriate for them.

The only proposed “C” word to replace Church that denotes a religious community  and one that is not necessarily Christian is Congregation (“a group of people regularly attending a particular place of worship”), so I vote in favour of this new version of UCV.

Please register as a concern that the current legal name almost put me off joining UCV.  It most likely has put off many potential members from even visiting UCV.

I have a negative association with church type words such as church, congregation, worship, praise…I feel a visceral sense of discomfort. I know that if I do, so do many others, thus it is a barrier not a draw.  How can we do better?

If UCV changes to any of the above suggestions I will seriously consider changing my status from ‘friend’ to ‘member.’


Name preferences:

VERY WILLING to change our legal name to a name I agree with and I am VERY UNWILLING to change it to a name I object to.

Why not include Universalist in the name?  Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver. 

If we are going to change our name, it should be updated to reflect the theology (UU).  A search for “Unitarian” finds a very different  definition than Unitarian Universalists.  People should know who we are by our name. Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver or Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver. 

The other proposed “C” words – Campus, Community, and Centre – can refer to many types of non-religious communities and so will not identify us as a religious/faith community.  This is why they are not acceptable choices to me (and the word Unitarian does not to many people denote a religious community because they do not know that Unitarian refers to a distinct religion with its own principles and practices.)

Congregation has spiritual, democratic, and community connotations.

My personal favourite is Unitarian Congregation of Vancouver.  Congregation is a word used by both Christian and non-Christian groups.

Community is a word widely used, understood and appreciated.  It is suggestive of “people together,” an entity with “things in common.”  Congregation is less well appreciated and understood. What it implies is anything but clear.  It has references to conventional religious traditions that are not who we are.

I hate Vancouver Unitarians!  It’s not a huge deal and I don’t want to outweigh, the many voices who like it, but to me it doesn’t say the right thing to the wider world.  Religious communities have a sense of gravitas, and that name doesn’t do that at all. To me it makes us sound like a club rather than a religious institution, which I think sends the wrong message to people in the community about what we’re about.

I think “campus” is misleading.

If we are called Van Unitarians, what do we call the place where we gather for a service? I don’t feel comfortable with Sanctuary.

I think it’s important to include a reference to our physical space in our name.  How to answer questions such as “Where will the memorial service be held?”  The buildings are a strong part of our identity and should be reflected in the name.  I think “Centre” accomplishes that.

Like Vancouver Unitarians re the group but less easy re the place.

“Temple” is a religion specific term denoting a space of sacred organizing and community ritual or practice.  It’s more specific to what happens here than the other options presented.  Has it been discussed?  Also, should we lose ”Vancouver” in favour of something decolonizing?

My only concern in changing the name is the cost of changing out any signage, stationary, concrete, placards, etc.  however, if changing the name will assist in broadening and diversifying the congregation, it will be worth the incremental cost.  It should be a well-supported new name, though. It would be ironic to me if the change drove more people away than it attracted, particularly if the diversity of the congregation were not improved. 

It’s funny, fundamentalist Xtians sects are also dropping the word “church” because it’s too pagan and/or insufficiently biblical?  That’s why you see so much “Assembly of Christ” and ”Congregation of Christ” when you’re driving through the hinterlands.  Whee!

Spontaneous Book Group NEW!

Do you sometimes hear about a book and wish you could talk to a friend who’d already read it before you make the investment of time and possibly money?

Or you’re half way through a book and really want to talk with some like-minded person/s about the ideas before continuing.

To complement other book groups at UCV (2nd Sunday where they choose a book and Potluck Books where people show up and share what they’ve been reading–and sometimes the actual books too!) a new group is starting.

Along the lines of Christina’s Baldwin’s “Calling the Circle”, anyone in the group can “call the circle” – by putting out an email suggesting when and where you’re inviting people to get together and the intention. i.e. it might be to discuss a particular book, or it might be potluck-style: come and tell us what you’re reading.

Another approach would be to have one or two people who have read a particular book, present it and reading is optional for the others. (This format borrowed from Toronto First’s Issues and Ideas group.) We’ll use this approach for the Zero Waste Book Club.

Mary Bennett has set up an email group for any who want to participate. If you join, you’ll get some invitations and you’ll be expected to now and again “call the circle”.  #SharedLeadership

Interested in book clubs? Here are some of the other book groups going at UCV.

2nd Sunday Book Club. Contact Rob Dainow

Potluck Book and Lunch Club. Contact Nan Gregory

Zero Waste Book Group. Contact Mary Bennett NEW starting September 10

Unitarian Plurals: Book Study group (click to join the googlegroup) for the book Don’t Label Me by Irshad Manji. Contact Mary Bennett   NEW starting September 19

Webpost . with details of dates and more informaation


For contact information, schedules and other small group opportunities, contact our Membership Outreach Coordinator, Derrick at



Zero Waste Book Group September Read: The Day the World Stops Shopping

The Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Team is starting a monthly one-hour zoom book club focused on books that relate to sustainability, zero waste etc.

The first session will be on Saturday September 10 from 10-11am.  Future sessions will usually be on the 1st Saturday (or decided by the group).

The first book we’ll discuss is The Day the World Stops Shopping by local author J.B. McKinnon.

Vancouver Public Library has 28 copies

Youtube interview with JB McKinnon:

Future books will be chosen by the group. In September, we’ll choose the next two books so people have plenty of time to read.

Register with and you’ll be added to the google group. Or join yourself:

Here’s a form to complete if you’d like to have input as to the time and date and the books we’ll discuss.

You can add suggested titles.

Here’s a link to additional titles:

Open group. Registration appreciated.

It is open to any Unitarians in Metro Vancouver or even beyond.

Zoom link is . A reminder and link details will be sent to members of the googlegroup.

from Mary Bennett for the Vancouver Unitarians Zero Waste Team – part of the Vancouver Unitarians Environment Team

The UCV zero waste team meets every 3rd Sunday @ 12;30pm for a check-in IRL @ UCV (We’re looking into a zoom link for those who want to join that way.)

Metro Vancouver Unitarian Zero Waste team meets on the last Sunday 4:30-5:30pm over zoom. This group consists of two representatives from each of the 4 congregations.

More book groups can be found at this post: Spontaneous Book Group

Zero Waste mini conference held at UCV: Plastic Free July – Ecochallenge


by Vivian Davidson

On July 3, 2022, the UCV environment team (Zero Waste group) met at the Unitarian Centre of Vancouver where over 10 people met in person and took in a varied Zoom Eco mini-conference with the input of other Unitarian Congregations, Beacon, North Shore and South Fraser.

Vancouver Unitarian Mary Bennett was moderator and time-keeper and did a very eloquent Chalice lighting with reading from Joanna Macy’s book Active hope.

The theme was Plastic Free July – Ecochallenge.

From the South Fraser Unitarian Congregation Donelda Henderson spoke about vegetable gardening and community food sharing; Dianne Dilts discussed how she makes yogurt and avoids plastic yogurt containers by using her own glass containers.

From the North Shore Unitarians, Shelley Hrdlitschka discussed the use of laundry strips while Shelley discussed compostable containers used by farmers. Barbara Kroon gave a very informative chat about home cleaning products and information about cornstarch containers.

And of course, getting to the source of where we buy products, the grocery store is an area where a lot of lobbying has to take place. So, to lead that discussion Teresa Morton from Beacon Unitarian Church shared a success story about Canadian Plastics Pact and the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty.

Towards the end of the event Vivian entertained a few questions about Reusable, single-use containers and cups as her video (link) was shared to those who RSVP’d to the meeting so they could formulate ideas and any questions they had. Several people in person and on Zoom shared how they take actions every day to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic items like taking their reusable mugs to cafes and bags to the grocery store.

Mary Bennett rounded up the event by sharing her use of ‘pee wipes’ and how it is much easier and user-friendly once one gets over the ‘oddity’ of it. It was mentioned by an in-person attendee that toilet paper is used mostly in Western countries but Asia and other parts of the world do not rely on it.

Other issues were discussed in conversations  including eating insects as a sustainable protein source; reducing one’s transporting foot print by commuting, biking and ride-sharing; being involved with community gardening and more ‘connected to nature’ and very importantly, making sure to encourage friends and family as much as possible by sharing tips, updates and one’s own habits to remind others that change is not hard and often simple solution go a long way to making our world more sustainable.

Links and resources from the meeting:

More information from Plastic Free July here:

One-minute video here:

Zero Waste Unitarian group on Facebook:

David Suzuki Queen of Green diy:

Canada Plastics Pact:


Contact if you have questions or want to get involved.


Ministerial Search Committee Update and Timeline

Dear UCVers,

On behalf of the Ministerial Search Committee (Diane Brown, Michael O” Neill, Carrie Mac and Esme, John Boyle, Jenny Malcolm, Nancy Woodham, Meena Wong) I would like to share with you all that we have met twice as a committee, and going forward from here we will be meeting every week. As I am the designated External Communications person, I will be updating you often and of course answering any questions you may have about this process.  Please feel free to contact me anytime at

Below is our timeline. Come fall, we will need congregational engagement in a number of exciting ways, including a survey and some cottage meetings. Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and we look forward to this journey together.

In active faith, Diane Brown


Timeline for Congregations in Search


Phase One  – concluding a ministry

Departure of previous settled minister and selection of an Interim minister

Late Spring (done)

Phase Two – Education and Preparation for Search – First Interim Year

Review congregational by-laws related to ministry


Transitions Coach Visit (UUA appointed)

February – April

Annual Meeting votes

Approve Search committee budget

Appoint Search Committee


Phase Three – search structure – Summer and second interim year

Search Committee retreat with Transitions Coach

May – August

Conduct Congregational Survey

July – September

Conduct Cottage meeting / small group interviews (based on survey results)

September – November

Gather information and create search committee website and record sheet

September – December (absolute due date – December 7)

List of interested ministers received

January 2

Narrowing of interview list

January 2-15

Precandidating weekends

February – March

Final Decision for offers to candidate

April 1

Pivot Legal Society: Our latest Outreach Opportunities Fund recipient

The next OOF recipient will be Pivot Legal Society (July 2022-October 2022).

The work of Pivot Legal Society is rooted in the belief that  poverty and social exclusion are not inevitable.

In 2001, Pivot opened its doors in response to a health and human rights crisis in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Since then, it has worked in partnership with marginalized people and grassroots organizations to challenge legislation, policies, and practices that undermine human rights, intensify poverty, and perpetuate stigma. Pivot strategically focuses its efforts on the most tangible human rights in order to improve the immediate situation of the people it works with, while creating lasting change that resonates across the country.

Here are some of Pivot’s accomplishments:

  • Protected the constitutional rights of sex workers by successfully challenging federal legislation that puts their lives in danger.
  • Worked with vulnerable people who use drugs to breakdown legal barriers to life-saving harm reduction and drug substitution treatments.
  • Supported victims of police misconduct and excessive force to stand up for their rights and spark changes in policing practice.
  • Helped homeless people secure important legal decisions confirming their right to shelter themselves from the elements and make equal use of public space.


Pivot is currently working with other organizations to end the cyclical displacement and criminalization of poverty  in Vancouver.  Click here for more information.


Women’s Poetry Group – For June we’re doing poems by Indigenous authors

June update:

Reminder (and new link) – drop in to hear a new poem every Sat & Sun @ 9am Pacific time on GoogleMeet
For June we’re doing poems by Indigenous poets.
Then we’ll discuss a theme for July.
To receive the poems, whether or not you join us on GOOGLEMEET (no longer zoom), send an email to


April Update

April is National Poetry month and our women’s meditative poetry group is celebrating by inviting all women and non-conforming genders to try us out.

We are an intimate little group, currently four regulars who live between Vancouver and Fredericton (although admittedly whole provinces are not represented!)

We don’t mind being small AND we’d like to share our group and poetry practice with others. We’ve been meeting for a year and a half.

This year’s theme for National Poetry Month is INTIMACY. We trust that even if we double or triple in size, by the nature of what we do together, read and reflect on poetry, this will always be an intimate group.

We started in the fall of 2020, and have met at 9 am Pacific on Saturdays and Sundays ever since. It’s only 15 minutes and we take turns choosing and reading a poem 3 times with some sharing of reflections in between.

We have an email group and have now decided to forward all the poems we read so that those who can’t join us will get a specially curated poetry collection. We choose a theme for the month and take turns choosing and sharing a poem.

To join the Poetry email group: send a message to

To just show up during April, sign in to (for Canadian Unitarian*Universalist Women’s Association–our co-sponsor).

April is “just try it” month, but ultimately we’re looking for people who would usually attend at least once a week.

Start your weekend days with poetry–or if you’re in Eastern or Atlantic Canada, take a mid-day break for poetry.

If you’d like to see past themes and poets, (we used to choose just one poet to focus on) just search this website for “poetry”.

We’ve done

  • June – Indigenous
  • September – Latin American
  • March – Beginnings (Spring)

And rather random themes like Food!

The poets are almost always female (once we accidentally chose a male poet, not knowing from their name what their gender was!) and we try to find Canadian poets as much as possible.

See other posts and information on women’s gatherings here:

National Poetry month: from

This National Poetry Month, we invite you to celebrate with the theme of INTIMACY.

We crave it. We fear it. We are ready to build walls against it and dive headfirst into its open arms. Intimacy is the closeness we feel with those who love us, given freely through warm hugs or tender passions. Its a shared laugh or glance between strangers, a moment of comfort in an anonymous world. Intimacy is a-la-carte: romantic, platonic, aromantic, familial, spiritual: order up what you need, and intimacy will take you there. Let’s get intimate with poetry this April for National Poetry Month 2022.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

On a select day in April, celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day across Canada. The day encourages people to select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day. Find out more at

Join the #NPM22 Conversation!

Share your NPM activities and join the conversation by tagging us on Twitter @CanadianPoets. and use the official #NPM22 hashtag.

About National Poetry Month

Established in April 1998 by the LCP, NPM brings together schools, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and poets from across the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in Canada’s culture.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Each year on Poem in Your Pocket Day, schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets. As a special collaboration, the leading membership-based poetry organizations that sponsor National Poetry Month in North America—the
League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets—have created a guide to inspire and assist with local Poem in Your Pocket Day celebrations.

We could celebrate at UCV on Sunday, April 3.  Just tuck a poem in your pocket before you head to UCV that day.



A note on notes and links

​A DuckDuckGo bang command​​ (!?)* searches a website using the search feature provided by that website. In this post, these bang commands are links. That is, they have links embedded in them.

An asterisk may have a link embedded in it​ – as in the third example below.​ If there is no link embedded in an asterisk, the asterisk refers to a footnote.

When in parentheses, bang commands link to results of a search for what they follow. When not, they link to results of a search for what they precede:

!yt Unitarian Church of Vancouver / YouTube

!ucv principles for kids / for grownups: UU principles (!g)

Unitarians care less about belief, more about how to live.*

“he taught a way of life” / Salzberg on Goenka on Buddha (!?)


An asterisk with a prepended exclamation point looks like a bang command and links to results of a search on a site that has no custom bang command:

Starhawk (!*)

!* Hewett


Entries made in the sermons document before 2022 used this faux bang command to link to posts on this website. They now use an asterisk.*

When you see what looks like a bang command, move your pointer to it so your browser can display its destination before you click on it. Try that with each of these two examples:

Phillip Hewett (!a)

!gi chalice

To find out where a link is going to take you, move the pointer over it, pause to read the destination your browser displays – at the bottom left of the screen or wherever – and then click (or not).


*a link​ –​ see a note on notes and links

The line above is a suggested footnote for any document that follows the conventions this post follows.

This post is a lit stall post previously published on January 3, 2022. The publication date now displayed is the date of the latest material update.

In the bulleted list below are the three latest posts tagged as lit stall posts.

If you haven’t read it already, please see the post about lit stall posts for more information.

Introducing our new Forums Coordinator

Eva Allan is our new Forums Coordinator! 

If your group would like to sponsor a Forum, please contact Eva with your preferred date(s)/time(s), the space needed (Sanctuary/Hewett/Fireside/other), and whether any tech support is needed. Eva will manage the bookings and liaise with staff and will get back to you to confirm plans. This will reduce the number of calls from congregants to individual staff members about availabilities. The groups sponsoring Forums will have some way of covering any extra staff costs involved (eg. caretaker or tech support).

Email: Phone: 604-738-4062

Big thanks to Eva!!

Update on Peace Circles regarding the 8th Principle process

A second peace circle was held on May 19, 2022, facilitated by Dr. Evelyn Zellerer, Peace of the Circle ( The focus of this circle was to acknowledge and address specific concerns and harms amongst individuals who engaged with the 8th Principle process at UCV. All those who came forward with concerns in response to previous notices in the Weekly e-bulletin or who otherwise made clear their concerns were invited. Participants were (alphabetical order by first name):

  • Bruce McIvor
  • Diane Brown
  • Hisako Masaki
  • John Boyle
  • John Smith
  • Nancy Barker
  • Rev Lara Cowtan
  • Rob Dainow
  • Sheila Resels
  • Tamiko Suzuki

At the end of the circle, there was a sense of relief and lightness that truths had been spoken and heard. There was a sense we could now move forward together. We also understood that another’s truth can be more complex than we might appreciate from our perspective. We saw where we could take responsibility for our part in disconnection. As we heard, all in the room had good intentions, yet the lesson of intention vs. impact arose: there are harmful impacts from some words and actions of good people with good intentions. These harms can be understood and lessened with open-hearted curiosity about another’s perspective and experience.

We learned that clear communication and checking with each other for shared understanding is critical. If I make a request, does the other understand what I’m hoping for? If I say yes or no, am I and the other clear about what I’m saying yes or no to? If someone uses language I find alienating, am I willing to hear what their underlying message, hopes and fears might be? Am I striving to welcome all voices, finding our common humanity?

We also discussed transparency in tracking and responding to requests, and the importance of acknowledging the efforts of both leaders and members who are trying their best to respond and contribute, even if imperfectly.

We learned about missed opportunities and how checking for shared understanding might have averted some painful outcomes. For example, for some there was a misunderstanding that a request for respecting the voices and lived experiences of IBPOC meant one should not question processes and wording. Providing more clarity as well as explicitly welcoming all voices and perspectives would have supported more open, fulsome dialogue. And in future, if we are confused or concerned about a process or guidelines for speaking, we can ask for clarity. We require brave spaces and shared understanding of what that means in our community.

Missed Opportunities – yet it’s not too late!

In summary, we have learned a lot, opened up to others, seen where our words and actions might have contributed to disconnection and harm, and how we might do things differently. Opportunities to widen this learning will be offered over the coming year through various programs and invitations to engage in restorative conversations. And each of us at UCV can practice clear communication, checking with one another for shared understanding and for impacts of our words, actions and inactions. If we’re ever unsure, we can ask the other people involved.

One suggestion offered in the circle for a possible future community conversation: those interested could use the DRSG Final Report and the subsequent critique for asking questions and learning together.

We received a suggestion that for future learning, someone (volunteers welcome!) documents the process around the introduction of the 8th Principle at UCV.

The broader reality of the experiences of IBPOC, other marginalized persons, and those who support them was touched upon and we acknowledge this critical piece needs much greater attention. This includes congregation-wide sessions like those mentioned above to share stories and learn strategies and most of all, to shift our culture so that everyone feels truly valued and welcome.

We know we have more work to do. We also know that not everyone who has had concerns has chosen to come forward. We acknowledge there might still be a gulf of trust for some and are curious to hear from you what might further address that. We want to move forward with demonstrably living in the spirit of our Covenant of Healthy Relations and all our principles, including the principle to accountably dismantle racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our community. We celebrate that many of us were and are drawn to Unitarianism because we thrive when embracing new perspectives. Now is the time to further welcome the diversity of perspectives, learn, and grow as a community.


In faith,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Nancy Barker


*Note: For the sake of clarity, very minor changes to the wording of this letter were made after its initial publication and circulation.