Category: Our Space

Buildings and Grounds Committee information; renting space at UCV.

REDEVELOPMENT?? Update and next step


A small group of congregants who felt that their views, and perhaps the views of other congregants, were not clearly reflected in the current UCV redevelopment process and plans met together on March 1 to share their questions and concerns. They identified over 15 concerns and wondered how many others in the congregation had similar questions or concerns. The result was the Listening Circle forum after the March 31 service.

At least thirty-five people attended this Listening Circle forum. Some oppose the redevelopment project, but most are undecided and have some concerns or ambivalence about the current redevelopment project and process. At least five did not express any concerns about the project and several expressed confidence in the current redevelopment process and the redevelopment team.

The 3 page report from this Sharing Circle, based on the flipchart notes from the forum, identified eight categories of concerns that meeting participants shared. This report was presented first to the Board and then to the Redevelopment Committee. It is now being shared with the full congregation. You can get an electronic copy here [Mar31 Sharing Circle report], or a printed copy in the foyer of the sanctuary at Sunday services on May 12, 19, or 26, or in the office.

There was considerable support at the March 31 forum for a followup workshop to extend this conversation to include more congregants and to explore the concerns and issues in more depth. The Board supports this followup workshop.

Please join us in the Fireside room on Sunday, May 26 from 12:30 to 2:30 pm at a Site Redevelopment Circle of Concern Workshop to share any issues or concerns you have about the current redevelopment project and process and to explore these issues and concerns in more depth. If you cannot attend on May 26 but still want to be heard, please send your comments to Rob Dainow at or (604) 523-0123.

Make a Flower Crown for May Day/Beltane

Flower Crowns

Our plans for the flower crown activity on Sat. May 4 (4-5:30pm) and then at the Earth Spirit circle on Tuesday, May 7th are evolving.
Sandy brought in some ivy that had been twisted to form a base.
Mary was given some white wool. We did a walk around the gardens to see which flowering shrubs could benefit from a bit of judicious pruning and which flowers will be so plentiful they could be given over to this project. The cranesbill geraniums are just coming into bloom and will be plentiful.
Here’s a good link if you want to make these at home.
We’ll have (but you could also bring) ivy, laurel, rosemary and lavender for a good base.
We’ll also bring wire, twist ties, ribbon and yarn for fastening things on.
And here’s a very easy approach to do with kids. Paper bags and duct tape are involved.

Wish Tree for May

Jodie Miller will be on site for World Labyrinth Day and encouraging you to write a wish and hang from our trees.

We’ve decided on the vine maples in the courtyard. We considered the tree/s in the centre of the garden path labyrinth, or the two at either entrance, the cherry blossom at south entrance or the vine maples in the courtyard or our orchard of 14 apple trees. We especially liked that it’s easy to get to and visible to all. It’ll be easy to invite kids and all others to “make a wish” on Saturday, May 4. Watch this space for the transformation.
We will let the wishes fly for a while and then collect and bury them (as Yoko Ono does). So we’ll have to decide on a nice spot for the burial as well. Ono buries them at the Peace Tower in Iceland. Suggestions for UCV are welcome! (This is our first year doing this, but we already expect it will be the first annual).
Suggested colours are:
  • gold to symbolize prosperity
  • blue for courage
  • white for fidelity
  • pink for tenderness
  • green for good health.

Here’s a description of Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree Ongoing Installation.

And the instructions:

Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree. Ask your friends to do the same. Keep wishing. Until the branches are covered with wishes.[2]

Yoko Ono’s comment:

  • As a child in Japan, I used to go to a temple and write out a wish on a piece of thin paper and tie it around the branch of a tree. Trees in temple courtyards were always filled with people’s wish knots, which looked like white flowers blossoming from afar.[1]
Here’s a good news story about making a public wishing tree. (I love good news stories). Traci Bunkers is the artist involved with a kids art camp and guerrilla art group.
A search of google reveals that wish trees are becoming popular for weddings and baby showers.

Herbal teas

If you’re not into decorating a tree at all, don’t worry. Just add some herbs to your tea. They say all herbs are healing on Beltane and will surely fix you up.

The point is, Beltane is a holiday for our renewal, time for new hopes and beginnings. Anything you decide or wish or manifest over a cup of tea on Beltane could actually work this time. (from mookychick)

There’s lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage around the grounds. Please pick a sacred bundle for using fresh or dried. Just add hot water.

Flower Crowns

We’ll have (but you could also bring) ivy, rosemary and lavender for a good base.
We’ll also bring wire, twist ties, ribbon and yarn for fastening things on. If you have “floral tape” or “floral wire” and can bring along, please do.
And here’s a very easy approach to do with kids. Paper bags and duct tape are involved.

April on the Garden Path Labyrinth

The grape hyacinths are in abundance. Snowdrops and crocuses have now gone back underground.

We have a few daffodils lingering on and the tulips are blooming.

The primulas are in full bloom or coming into their own. Thanks to Hanno for the pale pink perennial primulas. Last fall I divided some of them up so they’re spread around a bit.

We lost the Huntington’s carpet rosemary over the winter, but the other two rosemary plants at entrance on south side are doing fine. (Yes,you can pinch a sprig if you wish.)

Around the courtyard labyrinth, 3 of the 5 new lavender are healthy. A 4th looks like it’s alive — barely, and the 5th might well be dead. But perhaps only sleeping?

I’m watching for calendula sprouts. We’ve usually had lots of calendula but I haven’t spotted a sprout as yet.

I divided up some echinacea and rudbeckia from other parts of the grounds and planted around the perimeter. They won’t bloom for months yet.

Did you buy some tulips or daffodils in a pot and don’t need them any more? Bring to the labyrinth. They say they don’t bloom again, but they will. Maybe not this year, but the following year and we have lots of space. Or are you the kind of gardener who digs up everything as the season progresses. All “old unwanted” bulbs are very welcome. Just contact us if you want to leave them somewhere if we’re not around.

Thanks to Keith Wilkinson for these photos.

Family Plots Available for Veggie Gardening

There are three and could be six small plots available for UCV familes to plant a small vegetable garden. Each plot is about 38″ square–a manageable size!

Mary Bennett is available to encourage and mentor on an ad hoc basis including at Messy Church nights or immediately after Sunday service.

Contact Mary if your family would like to have a plot for vegetable gardening.

Now is the time to plant peas and lettuce!

The vegetable garden is on the north side of Hewett Centre.

New plots will need a bit of time to get going. The three that were assigned last year are ready for planting.


Labyrinths – An Invitation from Steven

From Steven Epperson’s sermon on February 17th.

There are two labyrinths on this property. An encounter with them may go something like this: We’re walking along Fremlin Street or taking a short cut through the courtyard out there. Occupied with random everyday thoughts, our attention is diverted by a strange, mazy pattern laid out on the lawn or on the pavers in the courtyard.

There’s an opening into the design, an entrance, and we see that a path ensues. With its twisting turns, a glance tells us that a person can’t walk through it quickly. What to do? Flee and continue on our way; or stop, slow our pace, step inside and follow the path?
There’s something about that entrance—like an invitation to cross a threshold from the ordinary into a different kind of space and time. We sense this as soon as we’ve taken a few steps into the labyrinth. We become aware of our body moving with non-linear deliberateness.
As we tread, step-by-step, the flotsam, flux and cares of random musings and feelings may give way to a concentrated, affective thoughtfulness. And it may come to pass, it’s not guaranteed, that as we wind our way toward the heart of the maze, the maze enters our heart.
For thousands of years, we’ve been laying out labyrinths as symbolic roads of pilgrimage toward…what? There are various answers to that question. But the way I see it, the intent of walking the winding path is to take us out of the everydayness of our lives in order to deliver us to a realm of insight—a place of understanding hidden truths about ourselves and the times and places in which we live. Such is the latent power of a labyrinth.

  • Please do come and walk our labyrinths any time. They’re relatively small so it can take just a few minutes of your time and might inspire others to take time as well.

  • Rental Discount for Not for Profit Groups

    We have a variety of room sizes and arrangements available for rent when the congregation is not using them.

    We offer a special discount of 10% for not-for-profit groups. Contact Marcus.  More details here.

    Some of the organizations who rent space with us are:


    Note: to be eligible for discount, the organization must have a charity number or registered society number.

    We’re a Welcoming Home for Many Artists, Musicians and Creatives

    For many years, UCV has been a welcoming home and refuge to a wide variety of artists, musicians, and creatives of all disciplines and backgrounds.

    Our beautiful Sanctuary, with its wonderful architecture, ambiance, and acoustics, has become a favoured venue for local concerts, piano recitals, music festivals and plays. It has been the home of the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival for many years, and regularly hosts the Vivaldi Chamber Choir, Jubilate Vocal Ensemble, Vancouver Chinese Choir, West Coast Chamber Music, Highs and Lows Choir, and of course our own Chalice Choir. The Chor Leoni Men’s Choir and Elektra Women’s Choir even have their office spaces on the UCV campus!

    Other regular rental clients of ours include the Pacific International Youth Music Society and the BC Registered Music Teachers’ Association, among many others.

    Elaine Joe at our grand piano playing for the Highs and Lows choir who practise every week in our sanctuary.

    Each month, our Arts Committee curates a new exhibition in our Sanctuary and Fireside Room, giving local artists the opportunity to have their work seen by hundreds if not thousands of congregants and visitors.

    The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild meets in the Hewett Hall monthly, and provides its members an opportunity to have a ‘show and tell’ of their latest creations.

    Another UCV tenant, the Multifaith Action Society, produces a Multifaith Calendar each year that features beautiful community-sourced artwork from around the world as a means of promoting interfaith harmony and cross-cultural dialogue. Over 30,000 copies of the calendar are distributed across North America and beyond annually.

    We have hosted book launches and readings from a number of renowned authors, and the UCV campus’ many unique and storied spaces have also been featured in a wide variety of television shows, movies, and amateur films. Most recently, the Hewett Hall and Fireside Room were transformed into courtroom sets for the Johnny Depp film Richard Says Goodbye.

    Marcus Hynes is the person to contact about booking space at the Unitarian Centre.

    We are proud of UCV’s commitment to and embodiment of the arts and look forward to many more years of serving Vancouver’s creative community!

    To inquire about booking a space for your creative event, please contact Marcus at 604-261-7204, extension 0, or by email.

    Pride in the Metro Vancouver Unitarian Community

    Pride in Vancouver happens right smack in the middle of the summer. So although we at UCV are very proud of the fact we were officially certified as a Welcoming congregation for BGLTQ folk way back in 1995, we sometimes forget about planning to celebrate Pride Week. Last year when we did a vision survey, one of the comments struck me as significant: How would anyone visiting know about our positive support of queer issues?

    We have a tasteful certificate hung in the sanctuary, but even if you notice it, it’s pretty subtle. Unless you’re already in the know, you wouldn’t know that “Welcoming Congregation” status had anything to do with awareness and support of diverse genders and sexual orientations.

    North Shore Unitarians with the poster they created for their entrance way. They’ve generously shared the template and advice for when we decide to make something bigger.

    Recently the Board supported an initiative to work with the other three Metro Vancouver congregations to recertify as Welcoming Congregations and share ideas and commitment around celebrating Pride.

    We’ll be submitting an application to the West Bequest for financial support to produce and print a brochure and inviting speakers on educational topics into our congregations. To this end, we plan a couple of gatherings to share our own stories and discuss ways in which UCV can move forward.

    Our UCV group is just getting started, but I’m pleased to say that along with myself, Mary Bennett, Martha Saunders and Leonie Armstrong have joined our team. If you’d like to be involved or have comments or suggestions, please send to me for forwarding to the team.

    This year the South Fraser Congregation celebrated with bubbles at Surrey Pride.
    UCV Congregational photo that was sent to Orlando, Florida, showing our support.

    Because, as mentioned, the term “Welcoming Congregation” doesn’t mean much to any one who hasn’t already been involved in the Unitarian religion, we are considering a new and more explicit name for our team. Many schools and universities use the term Gay-Straight Alliance, but since “gay” often has a more specific meaning than the umbrella term “queer”, I found on wikipedia that some “GSA” groups are now using the term “Genders and Sexualities Alliance” and one (Christian) school in Alberta–probably others–use Gender and Sexuality Acceptance.

    Beacon at New West Pride 2018.

    We will be doing some preparatory work over the fall, and expect to offer some workshops and presentations in 2019.

    Please do contact me with your suggestions or questions.

    posted by Mary Bennett

    Snowdrops, Crocuses … and more in our Living Labyrinth

    The snowdrops are up in our living labyrinth.

    The crocuses can’t be far behind. Photo from March, 2017.

    Thanks to new labyrinth volunteer, Vera Wojna, for tidying up the labyrinth for spring. Several bags and bins full of dried leaves have headed to the compost.

    Photo: Gail Stephan 


    More about our two labyrinths, click here.

    Watch for news about World Labyrinth Day at UCV.

    Attend our monthly program GLAD: Gathering for Labyrinth, Art & Dance

    Third Thursday 11am – 1 pm

    Check Event listings for theme and details.

    RSVP and questions – contact the team by email.