Category: Our Space

Buildings and Grounds Committee information; renting space at UCV.

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

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.

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Please contact us at dmtf@vancouverunitarians.ca and we will arrange for an interview.

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

April 2021 Update from the Board of Trustees

Dear Unitarian Friends,

With the blossoming of spring comes hope, light, and a sense of comfort born from Mother Natures faithfulness to us. To top off this seasonal levity, here is some good news from your diligent Board of Trustees.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee and members of the Executive Board continue to work hard on the Sanctuary Upgrades; a Forum will be scheduled soon so please stay tuned.

After soliciting input from the congregation via email, phone and forum, the Board approved the new Organizational Design that was recommended by one of the Ministerial Transition Team task forces, and it is being implemented with some tweaks and adjustments. This design streamlines and clarifies lines of accountability and underscores a collaborative, communicative working environment. It also means that we are going to hire a Membership/Outreach Coordinator to help build our membership and engage with the wider community.

The Board also engaged the congregation via email, phone and forum in a conversation about extending the Interim Ministerial time an extra year. After considering all of the feedback, the Board has decided to extend our Interim Ministerial time an extra year.

Finally, the Decolonizing Practices Workshop is full! Looking forward to seeing everyone who signed up for it on Saturday April 24 from 10 – 3; zoom link to come.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at president@vancouverunitarians.ca

Happy spring,
Diane.

Note from the Board Chair – Jan 1, 2021

Dear Unitarian friends,

I hope you had a rejuvenating winter break. It is a new year, a fresh start, and a lot of exciting work lies ahead. I have two invitations for you to consider in the coming weeks which both further the mission and the vision of our church.

Because we as Unitarians are committed to creating a more inclusive, compassionate and equitable world, I am organizing a Decolonizing Practices Workshop for staff, board, and members that will be run by professional Indigenous consultants.

I would like us all to have the opportunity to get better informed on decolonizing our practices and how to diversify our organization’s membership and board to include more Indigenous people and persons of colour. We need to identify the barriers to our organization and to develop the solutions. This one-day workshop will also include a half-day on the history and ongoing colonization in Canada.

The Decolonizing Practices Workshop will be in early spring and hopefully live and in person. If Covid prevails, we will pursue an online format. If you are interested in this, please let me know so I have an idea of interest and numbers. If the numbers are high, I may have to organize two workshops. president@vancouverunitarians.ca.

Secondly, I would like to invite you all to an Ideas Forum for the Upgraded Sanctuary to generate ideas together for how the new space could be used and be more productive.

This Ideas Forum will be on Sunday Jan. 17th at 12:30 on zoom. Galen Elfert and Dianne Crosbie will be on hand to answer any questions about the lighting/sound upgrades and the new chairs.

The seed behind the Sanctuary Upgrades was planted by Steven, and furthered by a generous donor. Then we asked ourselves, could our beautiful Sanctuary become a cultural and spiritual destination, a hub for various performance and spiritual groups to meet, worship, rehearse, perform, share ideas?  In this way, could we attract a younger and more diverse demographic to our Church, boosting accessibility by allowing for more varied and inclusive styles of music/art/worship?

We as a congregation are welcoming and wish to diversify our membership. So let us be pro-active and create a space that is inviting to various creative interests, ages and spiritual practices. Let us not only create that space, let us intentionally seek out and invite communities into our space. Our new Membership and Outreach staff person will definitely help with the marketing and outreach end of things, but what else can we envision for this space and how can we fill it?

Come with your ideas and let’s imagine together! I look forward to seeing many of you there and sharing our thoughts.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Diane Brown, UCV Board President.

Picnic, Chat and Labyrinth Walk

We sat outside, ate the lunches we’d brought (or purchased from across the street) and walked one or more labyrinths.

Mary brought her plarn (yarn made from plastic bag strips) and a spiral was laid out under the tree nearby. (See photo for how plarn is made with strips of plastic bags. Yes, more bags are appreciated, especially purple, blue, orange, red in that order.)
Several of us enjoyed being on UCV grounds on Sunday afternoon.

Earlier Donna brought Mary and 50 or so bricks for enhancing the labyrinth pathways and we’ll do more of that. (Help for unloading, transporting, placing bricks very welcome). Thanks Way and Vivian for your help.

Catherine played her concertina for us. It was a lovely sunny afternoon with old friends and new.

Discovered “free dirt” near compost bins and moved some to cover dried leaves. Help with more of that would be appreciated as well. And of course weeding. If you’re there and you see grass amongst the plants, please pull it out!

 

Red Tulips in full bloom on the labyrinth

On January 8th, Patti planted the bulbs given to Mary Bennett as a Green Streets gardener that celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands at the end of WWII.

These are Liberation 75’ (website Liberation75.ca.)  As intended they were in bloom for May 5th.

Ours are some of 110,000 tulips planted around Vancouver including at Mountainview Cemetery.

Here’s an article about the project:

https://vancouversun.com/homes/gardening/brian-minter-commemorative-tulips

And another one: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/more-than-110000-tulip-bulbs-commemorate-1945-canadian-liberation-of-the-netherlands/

And from the City’s Green Streets coordinator: Enjoy a virtual tour or go check out some of the gardens for yourself! 
 

 

 

Victory Garden opportunities and labyrinth help needed

Victory Gardens at UCV?

Some of us who have gardened at UCV in the past are taking a year off. If you live close to UCV or drive and would like to have regular visits to our beautiful grounds, here are some opportunities:
Mairy Beam & Mary Bennett hope to get back to gardening next year, but if you’d like to plant and harvest this year, we’d love you to take advantage of the veggie and herb garden we’ve been building up. It’s a bit shady but great for greens. There are some herbs (sage, lavender, thyme) and lots of kale and garlic and undoubtedly a few other things there too. Contact Mary to discuss.

Labyrinth – oh my!

From spring to summer, Mary has often spent 2 or more visits or an hour or more joyfully weeding and planting and tending the garden path labyrinth. We have a soaker hose once it’s needed and many plants are established, but it needs regular trimming and weeding. I’ve wished for some time that we had a labyrinth team–so now it’s really needed.

Family veggie plots

There are three 38″ square plots that have been used by families. If you are able to plant and harvest one or more of these, contact Mary Bennett at ucvconnect@gmail.com (or any other way of contact you happen to have).

Health and Safety measures:

If you are using UCV tools (including the combination lock) please disinfect before and after use. Patti is putting disinfectant into the shed for you.
If you’re there during the day, office staff and caretakers know the combination or ask Mary or Patti in advance.
Use gloves. Keep at least 6′ away from others.

Patti says: garden but stay safe.

Hope someone volunteers to care for the labyrinth. Outdoors is a safe place to be if you need to get out of the house especially that big empty space at the church. Perhaps there are those that will welcome this opportunity.
Warmest and bestest from Patti

Indoor Labyrinth Walking in Meditation Room

We now have custody of an indoor labyrinth that fits perfectly in our meditation room. The plan is to have it out in the meditation room every 1st Tuesday for walking before circle dance and at the break.

Seven women who were part of the Women’s Spirituality Celebration and, along with a dozen or more others, met and walked it together in January. A discussion ensued that people would like the chance to walk it more often and share it with others as well..

The 10′ x 12′ canvas labyrinth was created by Barbara Bickel while on an artist residency on Toronto Island.

Barbara was, with Mary Bennett, and others part of a planning team for an annual Women’s Spirituality Celebration held at UBC Vancouver School of Theology.While the group hasn’t hosted an event in recent years, there are “circles of circles” of women who continue to connect in various ways, often around a labyrinth walk, shared food and conversation.

Barbara created it for the WSC and has wanted it to be available for borrowing by women who wish to use it for an event.

If you have a connection to Women’s Spirituality Celebration or a Unitarian congregation, you can arrange to borrow it from Mary Bennett.

We plan to have an open labyrinth walk every 1st Tuesday from 6 to 7 pm prior to circle dancing in the hall. Mary will book space and ensure the meditation room is open by ten to 6. Women involved with WSC will take turns laying out the labyrinth, welcoming new people and putting the labyrinth back after the walk.

We have a labyrinth facebook group. 

There are also two outdoor labyrinths on the Unitarian Centre site.

Go to http://vancouverunitarians.ca/labyrinth to learn more.

Contact Mary through unitarianlabyrinth@gmail.com if you wish to arrange to borrow the indoor labyrinth.