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.

Board Notes January 2022

The UCV Board met on Tuesday, January 18.
We confirmed a Generational Inclusion Task Force co-chaired by Mary Bennett and Bruce McIvor that will start by interviewing Millennials and Gen Z’s.
We ​will move toward the CUC’s recommended process of selecting delegates for a two-year term. Criteria and a selection process will be shared with the congregation by mid-February.
Diane Brown, Bruce McIvor and Ingrid Luters will be exploring and recommending ways to promote engagement with our Covenant of Healthy Relations.
President, Mary Bennett, will be on Zoom this Sunday 12:30-1​ ​pm if you have questions or comments on these or other board matters.
Meet the board and see recent posts at

IBPOC and allies plan for 2022 at UCV

Happy New Year! 

新年明けましておめでとうございます。 (Japanese)*

新年快樂!(Chinese in traditional characters)

新年快乐!(Chinese in simplified characters)

Here is wishing all our dear friends at UCV a happy holiday, and a healthy new year of peace, joy, and inspirations!

We wanted to thank all of you for your tremendous hard work, sincere encouragement, and honest sharings, in reaching the adoption of the 8th principle in November!

We looked at the year’s end with gratitude, and to the new year ahead with continued hope and best wishes for spiritual, personal, and congregational growth. 


IBPOC Plus Allies Team

Do you want to connect with our fabulous IBPOC members? Do you have connections to IBPOC communities that you’d like to share? Do you dream about cooking (and eating) pad thai or empanadas at the Sunday lunches? Do you want to be part of the 8th Principle in action?

Then you should join the IBPOC Plus Allies (IPA) team, and take part in the inaugural gathering  this month! The IPA will be taking over  the role of organizing UCV multicultural events in order to allow the IBPOC caucus to return to its original role as an affinity group. Everyone is invited to join!  More helping hands, special skills and creative brains means more fun events for everyone!

At the inaugural meeting, we’ll go over the mission and vision statements (rough drafts),  review  important dates and deadlines coming up in the calendar,  and then everyone will be invited to brainstorm ideas and contribute their skills.


IBPOC + Allies Team meeting

When:  Saturday January 22, 2022, 10am-11:30am

Where: On Zoom

Due to Omicron, the planned full day workshop/lunch/team building event has been canceled.

Who:  Everyone is welcome.

Please rsvp to  and put “IPA” in the subject line.


IBPOC Caucus

We are changing the days and times of our meetings and going back to all-Zoom (no in-person)  gatherings. If you self identify as Black, Indigenous or Person of Colour) and are interested in checking out this group, please  contact and find out when the next meetings will be.


*Note from Hisako: In Japan, people used to celebrate the New Year according to the lunar calendar, just like the Chinese, but because of the westernization, the official date of the New Year was changed (calling it 新正月new new year’s day). However, when I was growing up, people in the countryside were still celebrating their New Year according to their tradition following the lunar calendar (calling it 旧正月old new year’s day). I am not sure how much of that lunar New Year tradition continues today.

Update from the Ministerial Transition Team

What is the MTT (Ministerial Transition Team) up to these days?

We haven’t gone dormant, much as it may appear that way to outsiders, but in fact we have been very busy wrapping up projects and making plans for new ones in the new year.

The History Wall team had been working to freshen and update the display in Hewett Hall in preparation for when people would be allowed to gather again. We’d planned for a celebratory welcome back in January but Omicron threw a wrench in the plans so now we are looking at February.

The Congregational Identity Task Force, who want to answer the question “Who Are We?” are analyzing the interviews they’ve collected over the last year and will be presenting their report in the new year to the MTT, the Board, and to you, the congregation.

The Terms of Reference (TOR) group is finishing its first job of reviewing and updating the TORs of the 30+ teams and committees at UCV, not an easy task as most have not thought about their TOR in 10 years. The next part of their work  will have the teams take a look at themselves and put onto paper how they align with UCV’s vision statement (and yes later in the spring, we will be organizing a workshop to review our Vision statement).

There are many moving parts in this Transition process, and to quote Mary Bennett, at times it feels like we’re working on a puzzle where I’m not sure what the picture is or if we have all of the pieces. Thankfully, we are blessed to have the calm, experienced guidance of Rev. Lara and the amazing team of energetic, talented MTT members who are getting the work done!

Tamiko Suzuki

Ministerial Transition Team chair


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.

Living Our Vision (our mission)

Living Our Vision As Unitarians, we are dedicated to spiritual growth, social justice, and reverence for nature and all life. We embody these values through worship, ethical action, artistic expression, and religious education for all ages that aim to connect hearts, heads, and hands.

And if you are wondering what the mission of the Transition Team is, basically it follows the Covenant of the Interim Minister: Defining and  redefining sense  of  purpose  and  direction;  clarifying  the  faith  community’s identity and core values; working to develop, update, and revitalize mission and  vision  statements. 

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 (!ca)

!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 February 7, 2021. 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.

Being President/Being Present

by Mary Bennett, UCV Board of Trustees President, December 28, 2021

Come into this place of memory and let its history warm your soul,

Come into this place of prophecy and power and let its vision change your heart.

Singing the Living Tradition, #429 

Rev. William Schulz, Unitarian Universalist Association President 1978 to 1993

I’ve been indulging in nostalgia this month. Recalling past Decembers both with my own family and friends and at UCV.  As I sat at home visiting three congregations over youtube on Christmas Eve this year, I recalled my first Christmas Eve at UCV. In darkness to the singing of Silent Night, we lit each others’ candles. On leaving I was asked to put my candle in a basket. I did so reluctantly; I wanted to keep that candle. I got my courage up to head over to the hall where the minister was serving hot apple cider from a big punch bowl. 

Wind the film back to January 1989 and you’d find me making my annual New Year’s resolutions. That year I’d decided to make a resolution for each of the 8 aspects of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. I self-mockingly summarized my list as “to have matching towels and become spiritually developed.”  UCV was one of three spiritual groups I tried out. Once I gave up trying to figure out exactly what this religion was, I realized I’d found my people and so “signed the book.”   

As well as nostalgic memories, I have been studying our recent past: reading last year’s board meeting minutes, task force reports, by-laws, terms of reference and previous strategic plans. The board will be embarking on its “prophetic” role of developing a strategic plan. 

January, named for the Roman God Janus, the two-faced God looking both back and forward, is a good time to do this work.  

Meanwhile, we live in the present. What of UCV at this very moment, or at least this very month or year? 

Some of you have likely engaged in a “SWOT” analysis before. What are our Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats? 

As I consider these questions, I’m aware that every individual on the board brings their own history, perspective and hopes. We are something like the blind men encountering an elephant. You likely know the story. Since they can’t see the animal, they each describe it based on the part they touch whether the ear, the side, the tail or the tusk. The moral of the story is for everyone to share their knowledge in order to build up an understanding of what an elephant really is.

The first item under duties in the President’s job description exhorts me to “encourage everyone to engage”. This will be my Prime Directive for the coming year. I am genuinely curious to hear more of each board member’s perspective. Together we can build up a better idea of what this animal we know as UCV actually is and where it might want to be led. 

The board will continue with regular forums to invite congregational input into important decisions. As well, I’d like to try an occasional AMA – Ask Me Anything session.  Since I’ve asked you to treat me as “Just Mary” (not the board president) when you see me at UCV, it seemed fair to set up a way to make “President Mary” available. If it wasn’t Covid-times, I would book a room in Hewett Centre and invite you to bring your coffee and drop in. Join me on zoom through on Sunday January 2nd and… ask me anything. We’ll see how that goes. 

Meet the board members and see past governance messages here

Send a note to if you have a question or comment for the board president.

COVID-19 Safety Update: Temporary return to online-only services

COVID-19 Update: Feb. 2, 2022

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends that services and a modified coffee hour reopen in-person on Feb. 13.
  • A limited supply of N-95 masks has been ordered and will be made available for those participating in the service itself. We encourage congregation members attending to bring their own N-95 masks if possible, and we are looking into ordering additional supply so we can offer them to all attendees who wish to wear them.
  • Pre-registration is no longer required for Sunday services. In-person attendees are required to be vaccinated and mask wearing is required at all times indoors.
  • We will of course continue to offer multi-platform services at

COVID-19 Update: Jan. 5, 2022

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends that services stay online until at least February 13, 2022.
  • Small groups should hold multiplatform or online only meetings, using our common sense to mitigate risk as much as possible including through the use of our new air filters in Hewett Hall and the Sanctuary.

COVID-19 Update: Services return to online only – Dec. 23, 2021

  • The UCV Covid Task Force recommends that we move to online services in an abundance of caution to protect the members of our community. Working with the Public Health Officer’s timeline, we also recommend that services stay online until January 16, 2022. We will reevaluate in the week before January 16.  We also have a meeting in the first week of January to discuss everything in depth and in person.
  • We also feel that small groups should be able to continue, using our common sense to mitigate risk as much as possible.
  • We recognize that isolation has had far reaching mental health implications and harm to our community members. We hope that the ability to meet in small groups will help ease feelings of sadness over the next few weeks.

COVID-19 Update on Reopening for Sunday Services – Dec. 2, 2021

  • Sunday service attendance is capped at 125 and pre-registration remains required:
  • Choir and congregants can now sing fully masked and vaccinated. Triple layer masks or N95 masks are recommended.
  • Eating and drinking in Hewett Hall is permitted while seated. Groups using the facility must check vaccination passports and use air purifiers; people must be masked while moving around.
  • In-person Sunday Coffee Hour in Hewett Hall is tentatively scheduled to resume Jan. 9, 2022 (more details to come.)

COVID-19 Update on Reopening for Sunday Services – Oct. 7, 2021 

  • Sunday services will reopen Oct. 24 with attendance capped at 100 and pre-registration required.
  • Register here for Sunday services:
  • Members will be required to wear masks inside the Sanctuary.
  • Those attending indoor services will need to be fully vaccinated and provide one-time proof of vaccination.
  • Check-in procedures with follow COVID screening best practices, and volunteers, greeters and ushers will be trained accordingly.
  • There will be no food and coffee served after Sunday services, and Coffee Hour (aka Social Hour) will take place online only. Hewitt Hall will be open as a space for children and their guardians, as well as for general washroom use.
  • Online services will continue to be provided as usual.

COVID-19 Update – Sept. 1, 2021 

  • Based on the recommendations of our COVID safety team and the concerns of the currently rising Covid-19 case numbers,  the UCV Board has decided not to reopen our sanctuary for Sunday morning worship services yet. We will revisit this decision in a month, and hope to be able to meet again in person for worship in October.  There were many factors influencing this difficult decision, and we know many people will feel both disappointed and also relieved. The Board is motivated by our commitment to equity and to the safety of the most vulnerable members of our congregation and communities.
  • Given the many factors, complexities and evolving scenarios over the past weeks, we want to be sure we are fully prepared to reopen our in-person worship services in a safe and inclusive manner with staff and volunteers trained on the many new safety procedures including checking vaccine passports that will need to be implemented,
  • With our Sanctuary renovations nearing completion, we look forward to being able to meet in-person in the near future with safety precautions in place. In the meantime, we will continue to engage with online services and with as many safe, outdoor gatherings and meetings as possible on our UCV campus.
  • In line with B.C. public health guidelines and the recommendations of our COVID safety team, the Board has affirmed that all small groups, action teams, and outside rental groups wishing to use UCV indoor spaces will need to ensure that attendees are vaccinated and wearing masks.
  • For more information, on the B.C. proof of vaccination requirement, you can visit the government website:

COVID-19 Update – July 1, 2021

As of July 1, our space rental/usage policies have been updated as follows:

  • Masks are respectfully requested while using any indoor space.
  • The Sanctuary will remain closed to the public for renovations taking place over the Summer months.
  • Committees and groups of up to 50 people will be permitted to hold meetings outside while on campus. Groups of up to 10 people will be permitted to hold meetings inside in the Fireside Room, and up to 20 people in the main Hall. Arrangements must be made with the office ahead of time and strict adherence to our COVID protocols is required. If a caretaker is needed in order to provide access, set up A/V equipment, assist with chairs and tables, etc., this expense is expected to be be incurred by the organizing group.
  • The kitchen may be used by a single designated person, but remains off-limits for group use.
  • Contact Marcus in the office for more information regarding policies surrounding external/community-based venue rentals.

COVID-19 Update – June 1, 2021

UCV’s core staff members and COVID team volunteers are currently engaged in an ongoing discussion around BC’s four-step reopening plan, and are working to adjust our own internal policies accordingly and in a way that aligns with our core principles as an inclusive spiritual community (please see the UUA’s ‘Key Principles for Planning‘ for more insight into our decision-making process). We are relieved and excited to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and are looking forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful campus someday soon!

The following is a summary of our current COVID-19 policies as they relate to venue rentals and/or site visits by members of the congregation (or the public at large). To see an archive of our previous updates, please click here.

  • When visiting the UCV campus for any purpose, masks are to be worn indoors at all times, and social distancing of 6 ft / 2 m is to be strictly maintained.
  • Rentals for memorial services are permitted in the Sanctuary, with a maximum attendance of up to 10 people, providing that the organizers are able to provide a COVID safety plan and contact tracing information (as well as adhere to any other applicable COVID guidelines concerning masks, distancing, etc.).
  • Otherwise, in accordance with Provincial guidelines, we are unfortunately not able to make any of our venues available for social, cultural, or professional purposes at this time.
  • Outdoor meetings on campus are permitted for groups of up to 10 people who are masked and sufficiently distanced. The office must be informed of any intent to host a meeting on campus. Chairs can be provided during office hours, or if there is a caretaker present.

As of June 15, the following changes will take effect:

  • The Sanctuary will be closed to the public in preparation for renovations taking place over the Summer months.
  • Committees and groups of up to 30 people will be permitted to hold meetings outside while on campus. Groups of up to 10 people will be permitted to hold meetings inside, either in the main Hall or Fireside Room. Arrangements must be made with the office ahead of time and strict adherence to our COVID protocols is required. If a caretaker is needed in order to provide access, set up A/V equipment, assist with chairs and tables, etc., this expense is expected to be be incurred by the organizing group.
  • Rentals for memorial services are permitted in the Fireside Room or Hewett Centre, with a maximum attendance of up to 10 people, providing that the organizers are able to provide a COVID safety plan and contact tracing information (as well as adhere to any other applicable COVID guidelines concerning masks, social distancing, etc.).

If you have questions or concerns about specific aspects of this policy, please contact the UCV office. If you have questions about whether or not a certain kind of meeting or event may be permissible under current BC COVID regulations, please refer to the information provided on the government website.

Statement Condemning Violent RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en Territory

The Vancouver Unitarians condemn the violent RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory, including the arrest of over 30 unarmed land defenders and two journalists. The RCMP action is a direct violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which states that “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories” (Article 10). In allowing this action, the BC and Canadian governments are abrogating their commitments to implement UNDRIP. The RCMP raid is also a violation of Canadian Supreme Court decisions, specifically Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, which affirms the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leadership’s jurisdiction over traditional territory.


We stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and land defenders. We call on the government to drop all charges against the arrestees and respect Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ jurisdiction over their territories.


This statement aligns with UCV’s vision and our UU Principles:

Our Unitarian Principles and UCV’s vision call us to take action when we see injustice.

Issuance of a statement in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs aligns with four of the Unitarian principles. Specifically:

  • Principle 2: “Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations”
    • The militarized RCMP response against unarmed people is inhumane and unjustified.
  • Principle 6: “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all”
    • The government of British Columbia has approved legislation to implement The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP is a critical document that ensures Indigenous Peoples’ rights are respected including the right to live without persecution on their land. The RCMP raid, including arrests and burning of cabins, violates this commitment.
  • Principle 7: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”
    • The actions taken by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters were to protect the land from devastation caused by the construction of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline. Specifically, they are trying to preserve the water quality of the Wedzin Kwa which provides their drinking water and is their essential salmon habitat, and as such, is clearly connected to our interdependent web of existence.
  • Principle 8: “Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions”
    • Indigenous People routinely face disproportionate police violence and violations of their basic human rights. As a congregation that has committed to dismantling racism and systemic barriers, we must stand in solidarity with those  who are currently being oppressed.


Statement of UCV 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”.



Taking Action: UCV contributes funding to supporting marginalized communities

Outreach Opportunities Fund donates $5000 to residential school survivors society 

From June to October of this year a portion of our Sunday collection was put aside for the important work of the IRSSS. It was the single biggest donation of the Outreach Opportunities Fund in the last 10 years. This is a modest contribution, and just one part of our commitment as an organization to dismantling racism and colonialism.

R&A Koerner Foundation Community Fund Award supports marginalized students at Langara College 

RAKFCF is funding a bursary programme for Langara College, comprising annual grants of $10,000 for three years for further education of marginalized youth in financial need, starting January 2022. One bursary of $2,000 each will be awarded to an Indigenous youth, an IBCOP youth, a youth with a disability and two bursaries of $2,000 each will be awarded to youths who are single parents.

Langara College will select students in accordance with its policies and procedures and the Langara College Foundation will administer the programme. Additional contributions to the RAKFCF’s bursary programme can be made by any person, society, or foundation: if any congregant would like to give additional funds to this programme, please contact Melody Mason.

Opening to joy

“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer

It is December. Bringing to close another topsy-turvy, bumpy ride of a year marked by all the uncertainty and concerns wrought by the continuing pandemic. A year as well, like any other, with its growth and losses, celebrations, and sorrows.  The UCV community continues to amaze me with its resilience, generosity, and dedicated involvement.  UCV, along with the other UU congregations across Canada has been deeply engaged in the process leading up to the Special Meeting on Saturday November 27th, 2021 at which 95% of the congregational delegates voted democratically to approve adding an 8th Principle to the current seven Principles.

“We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:”

Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions”

We celebrate this moment as an act of good faith, an intentional step toward this aspirational future that is affirmed in UCV’s vision statement:

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.

UCV has been actively engaged in anti-racism and anti-oppression work, and will continue, renewed in its commitment by this endorsement of this 8th Principle.

Margaret Wanlin, President of the CUC Board of Trustees said, “We respect and give thanks for the hard and dedicated work of many leaders, over many years, that brought us to this moment. We acknowledge the sacrifices, and losses, experienced by those marginalized persons who became disillusioned with, or left, our faith tradition prior to this vote. And we commit to live fully into the lessons of this work, as we learn how to be partners in accountably dismantling racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion.”

Our theme this month is “Opening to Joy”.  We know that this is not as simple as lighting candles for Hannukah, Advent or Solstice, nor is it about unwrapping the perfect Christmas present. Opening to Joy means preparing to receive it.

Our covenants with one another and our aspirations that envision a more just and compassionate world bring us hope and prepare us to receive the joy we dream of. It is hard, often painful work requiring sacrifice, self-awareness and growth or even sacrifice or loss. And, this is the season we light our candles and prepare to receive hope and joy into the world.


Brightest blessings of hope and joy to you all,

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister

Vancouver Unitarians


Covenant of Healthy Relations 2021 … at

The Covenant of Healthy Relations – along with related procedures – covers three pages of a report approved by the UCV board in 2021. Those three pages are in a PDF file at The text of the covenant is on the first page. You can also read it below.

Covenant of Healthy Relations

This is a covenant to guide how we behave towards each other and to groups and individuals
within the congregation. The objective is to enhance a safe climate that is courteous, friendly,
supportive, respectful of others, open and honest.

Because I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of each person, I will endeavour to:

1. Be compassionate and supportive in my relationships with others, assume their best
intentions and be curious rather than judgmental.
2. Communicate with active listening and consideration. Explain concerns to the person
directly and share differences respectfully. Focus on the current problem – not the person.
3. Balance being open to new ideas with respect for our traditions.
4. Be attentive to our community’s needs, generous with my talents and careful with the
church’s resources.
5. Keep the big picture in mind, be patient with myself and others and stay engaged in the
process of change; participate in the decision-making and respect the decisions that are
6. Discuss conflicts in our church in a way that respects the privacy and dignity of those
7. Recognize and praise others and myself for the work we do in the church and be
forgiving when we make mistakes.
8. Support, in a constructive way, the work of the minister, staff and congregants.
9. Deepen our connections by getting to know and understand people of all ages and points
of view within the congregation.
10. Nurture my own spiritual needs in this community and support others in their search for
truth and meaning.

Approved on November 27, 2005 by the Annual General Meeting of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

Note that you can go to the source of the above – a PDF file at – to check out the related procedures as well.