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.

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, Rob Dainow, Leslie Kemp, Michael O’Neil, John Smith)

The Road Ahead – What’s Your Vision for Our Future?

The five fundamental tasks of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation during our ministerial transition are to successfully navigate our:

HERITAGE – Coming to terms with history by reviewing how this congregation has been shaped and formed.
LEADERSHIP – Reviewing our needs and ways of organizing and developing new and effective leadership to accompany times of transition.
VISION / MISSION – Illuminating and redefining our identity, sense of purpose, and direction.
CONNECTIONS – Renewing, expanding, and strengthening our relationships and resources in the wider community.
FUTURE – Preparing to engage in a new future with renewed vision, stewardship, commitment, anticipation, and zest.

Coming to terms with our history and heritage is the foundation for being able to envision and move into the future. Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? These are the questions we have been exploring as we have built our Congregational History Wall (UCV Stories) over the last few months. 

We presented several short videos in January and February Sunday services to highlight some of these UCV Stories: the Members page, the Controversies and Fights page, and two presentations on the Environment page. 

The February 28 service – “The Never-Ending Story” – illuminated some of the important themes that have shaped and formed us over our 500 year history as a faith tradition and our 119 year history as a Unitarian congregation in Vancouver: 

  • The founding beliefs and principles that cost some of our first leaders their lives and paved the way for what has remained a progressive, non-dogmatic religion that values independent thinking and social action, well-exemplified throughout UCV’s 119 years.
  • The ways in which we have encountered and suffered from conflict situations, notably with past ministers, and how this experience can and should shape how build our path forward – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
  • Our deep roots and long-standing commitments to social action in response to some of the biggest and most challenges issues in each generation.

We have a rich tradition and a strong foundation to build on. March is the month when we begin our visioning conversations to explore our identity and sense of purpose. What we learn in these explorations will clarify the directions for our future. This is a very exciting part of our work together! 

The Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) is adapting the Appreciative Inquiry approach to organizational transition to structure this transition phase. We will engage in structured conversations with as many congregants as we can in group workshops, one-on-one meetings, and individual surveys. These conversations will focus on seven questions:

  1. When did you feel most engaged, alive, and motivated at UCV?
  2. What are the most valuable ways you contribute to our congregation?
  3. What are the most valuable aspects of our congregation’s worship? What shapes your Unitarian faith?
  4. What are the most important and meaningful ways we engage with the world around us – locally, nationally, globally? 
  5. What are the essential, central characteristics that make UCV unique?
  6. What are the most important things UCV has contributed to your life? 
  7. What are three wishes you have for the future of our Vancouver Unitarians congregation?

The answers to these questions will tell us a great deal about who we are, what we value, and what we aspire to.

We will work with existing committee, teams, and groups in the congregation to enlist your help, and we will summarize all the feedback we receive from the responses to these questions and share it with the congregation as we craft our collective visions for our future.

All aboard!

I am Atl’ka7tsem Howe Sound

Whales, and the Revolution They Inspired to Protect Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound

For your viewing enjoyment. A beautiful video by Bob Turner — documentary film maker and former mayor of Bowen Island.

The video was featured on the Action EveningWhales, and the Revolution They Inspired to Protect Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound.

UU Opportunities for Deeper Involvement

  1. UU Opportunities for the casually inclined:
    • Register for and attend various events sponsored regularly by the CUC on Zoom.
    • Register by 1 Apr 2021 and be an observer at the CUC AGM on 8 May 2021.
  1. UU Opportunities for the internationally inclined:
  1. Become a UCV delegate for the CUC AGM – Sat morning, 8 May 2021 Details Here.

Apply to be one of 7 voting delegates representing Vancouver Unitarians at the thrilling 3.5 hour Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Unitarian Council to be held via Zoom, 10 am – 1:30 pm, Pacific Time, Saturday 8 May 2021.  You’ll have the opportunity to speak to motions and cast a vote on behalf of UCV on the following topics:

  • Proposed adjustments to the method of calculating the Annual Program Contribution based on membership numbers and donations


  • Setting CUC’s 2021-22 Goals, namely:
    1. Strengthen and nurture community resilience so our Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities are connected to each other, and thrive spiritually, theologically, organizationally, economically, and socially in a diverse, multi-generational context;
    2. Enhance religious exploration and spiritual growth grounded in the vision, principles, sources, and aspirations of the Canadian Unitarian Universalist (UU) movement;
    3. Advance socially responsible actions to live out our vision of interdependence, love, and justice to bring benefit to Canadian and global communities;
    4. Strengthen local, regional, national, and global networks of collaborative and interdependent UU conSetting CUC’s 2021-22 Proposed Strategic Initiatives, namely:

Within the above goals, the following strategic priorities are recommended for 2021-2022

    1. Ensure sound financial management, including sustainable revenue generation, to continue the work of building vital Unitarian communities;
    2. Strengthen the national fabric of our UU community by:
      • Nurturing and enhancing innovation and sustainability;
      • Enhancing and optimizing connections and relationships among UU communities in intentionally inclusive ways; and,
      • Ensuring that the CUC and its congregations and communities are well positioned to welcome and embrace those who seek Unitarian Universalism.
    3. Advance these social justice initiatives:- Truth, Healing and Reconciliation
      – Dismantling racism
      – Climate justice
      – Refugee support
    4. Develop, curate and focus on Canadian resources to advance religious exploration and spiritual growth in a multigenerational context.

You’ll also have the opportunity to see and hear oral and video reports from the CUC about what has been happening across Canada in UU circles over the past year.

To be appointed as a UCV delegate your application needs to be received by Sunday 7 March 2021 for review and approval by the Board at their Tuesday, 16 Mar 2021 meeting. If you’re interested, please contact or 

Approved delegates will be registered at CUC by a UCV contact person before the 1 Apr 2021 deadline.

Delegates will be expected to attend an online orientation session on how to vote using zoom.


(Image credit:  UUA United Nations Office – UUA UNO)

Defending Democracy in an Autocratic World

  • Jan 2021 A Blog by Bruce Knotts, Director of the UUA United Nations Office


(Photo Credit: Keith Wilkinson, Mustangs along the Fraser River near Lytton from a UCV field trip with Cole Harris.)

A Few Books on climate, indigenous, social, and racial justice

Elizabeth Kolbert, 2021, Under a white sky: The nature of the future.

Melinda Gates, 2020, The moment of lift.

James Daschuk, 2019 (2rd Edition), Clearing the plains: Disease, politics of starvation, and the loss of aboriginal life.

Wendy Wickwire, 2019, At the bridge: James Teit and an anthropology of belonging.

Isabel Wilkerson, 2010, The warmth of other suns: The epic story of America’s great migration.

Mystery Pals Deluxe 2021

Tangible Connection and a Break from Monotony

I feel a great desire for spring, for unplugging, for tangible connections to people. Zoom and video calls help me connect with people far away, but boy am I missing people’s prescence! How about some old-fashioned letter writing? It’s the time of year when we roll out Mystery Pals letter exchange for children, youth, and adults of all ages.  Some wonderful friendships and connections across generations have been made through this annual event–and if you haven’t tried it out yet, I encourage you to sign up!

This year we are forming a small organizing team to spice up our exchanges. Each Pal mails their letters to UCV and we send it on with Artist Trading Cards, art or activity prompts, or poetry slipped in.


Anyone age 4-104 can participate if you have regularly attended the Unitarian Church of Vancouver for six months or more, are known by someone in our church leadership (RE Director, Minister, Board, or committee member, small group leader), and can commit to exchanging weekly letters throughout April by Canada post (envelopes and stamps supplied.) 


April is the month of mail exchange and early May is our Reveal Party where you find out who exactly your Pal is. The reveal party will be facilitated in whatever way is deemed safe at the time–either a zoom party or outdoors if public health allows.


Sign-up with our Breeze form at by March 15th.

Kiersten and our Pals team will match folks up and assign each Pal pair a famous Unitarian to identify with. You will receive a Letter Writing Kit with addressed envelopes, stamps, and paper at the end of March to get you started. Write an introductory letter to your Pal, mail it to the church and it will be sent on. Watch your mailbox for a response and keep exchanging letters throughout April.

Education, Resiliency, and Healing

Vancouver Unitarians’ Koerner Foundation Funds Committee is pleased to announce that the Board has approved a grant for the Alderwood Family Development Centre for a project that provides the opportunity for education, resiliency and healing – by offering child and family drum making and drumming lessons. The drum is a symbol of culture, of togetherness and is a tool to honour unique and individual voices of children and families.

About the Centre

The Alderwood Family Development Centre serves the most complex and vulnerable children and families in Vancouver – these are children for whom there is no alternative schooling. The Centre provides a one year intensive day treatment program for children ages 6 to 12. It is family-centred and services and supports are collaborative, culturally sensitive, individualized and flexible.
The donation will be funded from annual grants given to UCV by the Vancouver Foundation from their Robert & Anna Koerner Foundation Community Fund.

UCV community links and a virtual literature stall

UCV community links keep us connected in these otherwise isolating times. Here is a short list of these links: … Livestream link for Sunday church services (active at 10:55am every Sunday). … An online version of the current Order of Service … Virtual coffee hour – every Sunday immediately following the service … How to donate from anywhere … The most frequently updated list of UCV events … A text-based archive of sermons – a virtual literature stall … An archive of core documents: board minutes, annual reports, …

For these UCV links and more, click here to go to the list at


Please note a particular item in the list: a link to a list of sermons – a virtual literature stall (lit stall).

After the livestreamed service at you can go to the list of sermons at to view or download a copy of the prepared text for the sermon if the speaker already provided one.


The above is a lit stall post first published on June 9, 2020. The featured image shows the cover of the Order of Service for the preceding Sunday, when a short list of UCV community links like the one above was included. The date now displayed with this post is the date of its latest material update.

The post at is this post. You also can find this post at

Or search this website for “links” – with or without quotes – and see this post as the top result.

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.

Outreach Opportunities Fund: Mood Disorders Association of BC

The Outreach Opportunities Fund recipient for the period of February 2021 to May 2021 is the Mood Disorders Association of BC (MDABC) which provides treatment and support throughout the province for people living with a mood disorder. It aims to provide rapid access to services, promote wellbeing within communities, encourage effective self-help models, reduce the stigma of mood disorders and support research. Participative decision-making is encouraged for treatment options which include psychiatric services, counselling and CBT, support groups and workshops. MDABC is now a branch of the Lookout Housing and Health Society.

Three minute video description of MDABC

More about Vancouver Unitarians’ financial support for local charitable organizations


A note on notes and links


>>> what follows is for you if you came here from a footnote to a post or document* <<<


​DuckDuckGo bang command​s​ (!?)* ​in this post​ are links. That is, they have links embedded in them. There also may be a link embedded in an asterisk​ – as with the highlighted alert above and the third example below.​

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 (!?)


So … a bang command here always links to results of a search. An asterisk​ may ​link to ​anything or nothing. If it links to nothing, it refers to a footnote.

An asterisk with a prepended exclamation point looks much like a bang command, but usually links to something other than the results of a search.

The sermons document that lists items in the literature stall (lit stall)* digital archive uses this faux bang command: (!*). Click it and see for yourself.

A link to this post in a footnote to text that ​adopts these conventions ​lets the reader know where to go for this explainer.


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