Category: UU Connections

Unitarian regional and national (CUC) news; news from metro Vancouver congregations; news from other UU organizations such as ICUU etc.

Women’s Meditative Poetry Circle

Do you need more poetry in your life? UCV women in collaboration with the Canadian U*U Women’s Association offer a women’s meditative poetry gathering three times per week on zoom.

  • Note new time: First Tuesdays at 5 pm Pacific/ 8 pm Eastern – a focus on poetry related to environment/climate change
  • Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am Pacific/12 noon Eastern
Click the following link to join the gathering:
Mary Bennett started this following Rev. Lara’s “Lectio Divina” series in October, 2020. Mary’s objective is to make her mornings go better and read more poetry. Both are almost lifelong goals worth revisiting regularly and it’s working.
You are invited if you identify as a woman or are non-binary, gender queer or gender fluid. I/we invite suggestions how to ensure this is a welcoming space for you.
The facilitator will:
  • Read a poem written by a (usually) Canadian (almost always) woman three times with a one-minute pause and brief sharing between.
  • Participants will listen during the first reading for words or phrases that strike them.
  • Second reading, listen for feelings or memories that are stirred.
  • Third reading, listen for a message or personal meaning.
  • We usually have about a minute’s of silence after each reading and then, as we’re usually a small group of 3 or 4, everyone shares briefly. We’re always finished within half an hour.

We have an email group. If you want to e-meet the other group members and receive occasional reminders or links to poetry, please join by sending an email to 

See the CUUWA page here:

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.

Our UCV Congregational History Wall 

Overview of Our History Wall Project

Effective transition after a settled minister leaves starts with a collective review of how the congregation has been shaped and formed. It is a way to claim and honour our past, our major milestones and evolution and engage and honour our griefs and conflicts. It is done in a spirit of community and mutual respect.

If you are interested in particular about the online wall, information is at the bottom of this page.

Board Announcement about the Congregational History Wall
Presented by Leslie Hill on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

As you’ve been hearing for a few weeks now, the Transition Team is working hard to establish a Congregational History Wall; a physical one in Hewett Hall and an online one on our website.

Loren Mead, writing about a change in ministers, says:
“Every congregation is strengthened immeasurably by its history, but every congregation has also been deeply wounded by its past. It is both the heir and the victim of its story.”

As I’ve been looking backward at the decades portrayed on our History Wall, I’ve found answers to questions I didn’t know I had. I’ve learned that Greenpeace wasn’t the only organization that had a founding meeting here. Vancouver’s Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE) found space here when it was denied by other institutions. Alice James booked the Fireside Room for the first meeting of the Vancouver Status of Women. She and Phillip Hewett became agents of change together; she fed him some ideas that he incorporated into sermons. Members of that group later reported to Phillip that a UCV Associate Minister was sexually abusing some of his clients in the Unitarian Family Life Centre. From the ashes of that debacle, Alice James chaired a committee to work out the restructuring of that organization and that lead to the founding of Oak Counselling, which still offers its services at UCV.

This congregation’s history is rich and detailed and this is our opportunity to add to it. You don’t have to have been here a long time to have favourite memories, poignant moments, troubling concerns, inspirational awakenings. Maybe it’s been a sermon, or social action, or a standout Forum, or the work of our young people.

Scroll down to learn more about the Online History Wall or contact Leslie Hill if you have contributions for the Physical History Wall in Hewett Hall.

Ministerial Transition Team

Learn More About the Ministerial Transition

Progress Photos of Our History Wall in Hewett Centre

Our Online History Wall – UCV Stories

For those among us who prefer to contribute from a distance, we have an Online History Wall – UCV Stories. You can contribute all kinds of digital documents – texts, documents, pictures, and audio and video files – all from the comfort of your own home! We are also creating a digital archive of what is on our History Wall in Hewett Hall so that everything will be in one place.

Go to to add your stories and peruse the many posts. The user-friendly site includes a practice area. Remember, this is a work in progress!

Paul Prescod has taken the lead to set up this Online History Wall and he welcomes more volunteers, so please contact him if you are keen to get involved!

Life Member Award presented to Keith Wilkinson

by Mary Bennett

At the AGM on November 15, I got to deliver these words and propose the motion to make Keith Wilkinson a Life Member. It passed unanimously. Of course.

Unitarian Church of Vancouver

Life Member Award

November 15, 2020

By Mary Bennett

I received the UCV Life Member award in 2017 and so was given the honour of making a motion for another UCV life member. I enthusiastically accepted.

In June of 2017, Rev. Steven Epperson sent me an email several days before that Sunday saying he hoped I’d be at UCV that week. I was a bit taken aback. And a little suspicious.

For starters, I was in those days always there on Sunday mornings and secondly any email I’d ever received from Steven previously was more about getting something on the website or such request.

So I was actually relieved when I was NOT named as an unsung hero award as I’d begun to wonder if someone had nominated me for that award. I’m not particularly “unsung” around UCV so I was concerned that the intent of that award had been misunderstood.

I was very touched and, at least for a while, I was moved to do even more than what I had been doing.

The congregation gives out this award only occasionally and to people who have served both this congregation and the wider Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist movement.

The person recommended by the board has served this congregation in many capacities including board member, treasurer, membership committee chair, finance and canvass.

I’ll have a bit more to say about the proposed recipient, but first would like to put to you a motion:

MOTION: that LIFE membership be awarded to Keith Wilkinson in recognition of exceptional and long service to our congregation and to the wider Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist community.

Moved:  by Mary Bennett; Seconded by Mairy Beam, Board Secretary.

So now I can address Keith directly without him wondering if it’s him we’re talking about.

Welcome to the UCV Lifer Club, Keith.

The award didn’t come with any instructions, a manual or even a position description or spreadsheet. 

You and I have often collaborated on Unitarian tasks where I have grand ideas and, although you also have grand ideas, I count on you to put those ideas into a manual or a spreadhsheet so they can be shared with others.

Let’s make sure the next recipient gets some terms of reference so when their friends ask what it means, they’ll be able to answer more clearly than I was able to when I was asked. “Um. It’s just an honour,” I’d say.

My basic understanding of the award is that we are now officially UCV “Lifers” – UCV can’t get rid of us and we can’t get rid of UCV.

Further, I’ve taken it to give me permission to go where “no one has gone before.” In my case, I found myself speaking up with my own opinion more often even if I felt it was out of sync with others.

I also found myself more carefully considering my various involvements here. To some degree I accepted the award as permission to “rest on my laurels” or at least to pick my spots. Three years later I’m still in that discernment process as I let go of some responsibilities and get involved in some new areas.

So in your case, this might mean you’d give up on making spread sheets for committees or conversely would feel empowered to make spreadsheets whether or not asked!

Many people on this call will have worked with Keith in one capacity or another but might not know as much about his involvement in the Canadian Unitarian Council. So I reached out to some of his CUC board colleagues to send their comments and congratulations.

Here’s a message from Vyda Ng, CUC Executive Director

Keith was a member of the CUC Board of Trustees, and its President for two years. During that time, Keith brought an increased sense of organization, introduced efficient processes, and became the Board’s ‘policy wonk.’ He combed through CUC policies, updated the Board Policy Manual, reviewed and revised other documentation, and left the Board with a set of well-organized documents.

It was my pleasure to work with Keith – his dedication to and love of the national Unitarian Universalist community shone through.

And from Jane Ebbern, Calgary Unitarian, and past president of CUC.

Keith was such a wise member of our CUC board – always calm and steady in times of stress and great at de-escalating a situation. I would serve on any board with him at any time in future.

And when he wasn’t being wise, he was great fun to drink red wine with (lots of quantity and quality) and discuss the issues of the world. I only regret that he doesn’t live in Calgary so I could see him more often.

This award is an honour well deserved.

Jane Ebbern, Past President CUC Board of Trustees.

And from our own Kiersten Moore, CUC Board member currently.

Keith was outgoing President when I came on the CUC Board in 2018. His guidance through updating and clarifying the Policy manual was so graceful. He made the effort engaging and understandable instead of tedious. I have enjoyed his wisdom and calm leadership both at the CUC and here at Vancouver Unitarians.

–Kiersten Moore, BC Rep for CUC Board of Trustees 2018–present.

CONGRATULATIONS KEITH. Let’s together for a coffee or glass of wine soon and make up some Terms of Reference.

Many notes of congratulation and appreciation appeared in the chat at this point!

Keeping Our Ethical Base Strong – UCV & the World

At the UCV Partner Church Sunday Service on 22 Nov 2020 and at the subsequent forum on Unitarian Social Involvement in African Contexts we gathered together virtually with fellow Unitarians from Burundi and some of their supporters elsewhere in Canada. The connections UCV has had in this work are interesting. We’ve been meeting and corresponding with Rev Fulgence Ndagijimana for a number of years now, beginning with emails of support when he was imprisoned in Burundi and we joined other international voices of concern that helped have him released. He eventually made his way safely with his wife and son to Saskatoon as refugees, where he finalized some of his UU Ministry Association credentials, and established Flaming Chalice International (FCI), a Canadian Registered Charity. (That means Canadians can make donations directly to FCI and obtain a charitable donation receipt for income tax purposes.)

Rev Fulgence was the founder of the Burundian Unitarian Church in 2002 and is active in the International Council of Unitarian Universalist (ICUU). He recently moved from Saskatoon to Ottawa (“mon pays…c’est l’hiver!”) where there is a larger Burundian community. He remains active with FCI as well as supporting other community initiatives including the emerging Rutana Burundi / Vancouver Canada Partner Church Relationship.

This week, Rev Fulgence told me about a UU connection that I didn’t know about, namely, the support for Burundian community economic initiatives by Spirit in Action, (their slogan is “micro grants, major change”), an inter-denominational US-based charity that began in the mid twentieth century, and whose current Executive Director is Tanya Cothran, a Unitarian. Tanya lives part time in California and part-time in Toronto where she is a member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto.  Tanya also served for several years as Treasurer of the Canadian Unitarian Council She travels regularly to Africa to meet with grant recipients and potential new recipients, and in 2017 she co-authored with Jennifer Lentfer the book Smart Risks: How small grants are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

The deep message, for me, in these supportive connections is the value of our Unitarian Principles and Sources, particularly Principles #1, #2 and #6 which state:

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

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

I’ve intentionally included lots of links in this story (ten, I believe) to highlight the complex and surprising interdependent social and ethical web of which we are a part. That web needs on-going attention as old links end and new engagements emerge. That’s what steady organizations like Vancouver Unitarians, Toronto Unitarians, and the Canadian Unitarian Council provide. When we give to charities like FCI and SIA that provide direct support for people in need, whether they be refugees or people working hard to build better lives for themselves in their own countries, we should also remember to give, I believe, to some of the organizations that act to coordinate and facilitate that support. So—I hope you’ll donate to one of these boots-on-the-ground enterprises, and also to Vancouver Unitarians for our members, minister, and staff to use in
keeping our ethical base strong.



Left – Tanya Cothran, Executive Director, Spirit in Action (SIA).

Top – Rev Fulgence Ndagijimana, Flaming Chalice International (FCI).

Trans Day of Remembrance – Nov 20

We will be acknowledging Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20th.

There are two events to mark in your calendars:

We are very happy to have Morgane Oger present on trans rights in the workplace for our November 18th Action Evening: All Genders Welcome

In addition, for our November 25th Action Evening, Glenn Deefholts will read from his recently published book Genderfluid: A Way of Being

Please click the links above for the action evenings Zoom link and additional information about our speakers. See you there!

Women’s Groups Update

Hello, As we’ve had some inquiries from women interested in joining a women’s group, I thought I’d put out a summary of what’s available and invite those of you currently in a women’s group to let me/us know if you’re willing to have new members.

The Canada-wide (but still small and informal) Feminist Book Club sponsored by Canadian U*U Women’s Association continues on the 2nd Sunday usually – but for October it’s on the 3rd Sunday. Cathy Sevcik will be attending and is a regular participant and you can contact her if you want a chat by email beforehand.

Inspired by the Morning Meditations Rev. Lara has been offering on Tuesday through Friday, and in conjunction with CUUWA, Mary Bennett has initiated Women’s Meditative Poetry gatherings. These are 15-minute poetry readings/meditation on Sat. and Sun. at 9 am and on Mondays at 4pm (Pacific time) Open to women and non-binary persons. Check events for details or contact me, Mary. Leadership will rotate. Poems will be by Canadian women or non-binary poets. You can join an email group or slack workspace if you want to see a list of poems and add to our list.

Annual Women’s Gathering. For several years UCV has hosted a women’s gathering with 40-50 people attending. Right now the maximum # who can attend the Hall is 15 and the Sanctuary 25, but we might go ahead. If you’re willing to be on a planning team, contact Mary. Usually this is scheduled in January.

Soul Matters Neighbourhood Drop-in. Not only, but mostly, women, drop in monthly on the 1st Tuesday 7:30-8:30pm to discuss the theme of that month’s Soul Matters package.

The CUUWA will be offering a free online program of Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, starting on Saturday, November 7 at 12 pm Pacific, 3 pm Eastern time, and meeting every three to four weeks for eleven sessions.

We offered this program at UCV last year led by Laurie and Paula.

Cakes for the Queen of Heaven

Any of these events that have dates and times can be found in the Events List on this website.

Need contact info? Check with UCV office or if you’re a member or friend, use our directory.



Facebook Page:

Poetry email group: send message to

Slack workspace: meditativepoetry (Check Canadian Women poets channel)





Feminist Book Club on Zoom

Meet with feminist Unitarians from across Canada to discuss books by feminists and/or about feminism.

The group is open although we expect a core group to emerge.

We meet on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 4-5 pm Pacific time. (but occasionally change!)

How to Join

To get updates on the books to be discussed and how to connect, send an email to

Locally Mary Bennett is involved.

From CUUWA Chair Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes

Hello all,
The Canadian Unitarian*Universalist Women’s Association, an affiliate of the CUC (Canadian Unitarian Council), invites all to join the Canadian U*U Feminist Book Club. Mary Bennett initiated this group and Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes agreed that it should be added to CUUWA’s activities.
We will be meeting by month by Zoom. We’ll use the same link each time, and I’ll invite people who haven’t used Zoom before to join early.
This group will be open. You don’t have to worry about missing a call or not being able to read the book we’ve chosen to discuss.
We’ll meet once a month, for one hour. Meetings will be on the second Sunday afternoon/evening of each month: 4 pm Vancouver, 7 pm Eastern, 8 pm Atlantic)
We’ll start on March 10, 2019, as part of a full calendar of CUUWA activities for International Women’s Day / Month. Check out our package of activities at:<
We will be reading books on feminist subject and/or by Canadian feminists. Feminist is to be understood in a broad and intersectional way, inclusive of the perspectives of trans/nonbinary folx and racialized / marginalized people. (Feel free to add your requirements/wishes for full and respectful participation)

Here’s a format I’m proposing.
We’ll go around the circle twice:
1. Intros: 2 min. each (or less, depending on number, for a maximum total 25 minutes): name, pronouns, location and either a brief or a deep check-in relating to the book / our lives
2. Impression or highlight: 2 min. each (or less, maximum total 20 minutes): comments on the book and how it contributes to your understanding of feminism
Then we will invite final comments; depending on time this may be either a sentence about what you liked best about the book or further discussion of how it inspires you or concerns it raises. After the online discussion, we will continue with comments posted here. Again, all are invited to participate by asking questions, making comments, raising issues.
At our first meeting, we will be discussing two books by Indigenous women of two different generations: read one of them or both, if you have time, or feel free to join and listen!

1. Lee Maracle, I Am Woman, Press Gang, 1988;
2. Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir, Counterpoint, 2018.
Links and more information is sent to the googlegroup.

At each discussion, we’ll pick a moderator and a book for the next month, and post it here for those not able to attend. We’ll compile a list of books to draw from; please add your suggestions.


Update: We now use breakout rooms to get to know and deeply listen to one or two other people rather than be in the whole group. You can join randomly and if you have zoom 5.3 installed, you’ll be able to choose your own group.


CUC Leaders Roundtables

4th Saturdays, monthly, 9 AM Pacific time

Report on the CUC Leaders Roundtable of 26 Sep 2020:

Seven UUs from Halifax, Huronia, Niagara, Lakehead, Calgary and Vancouver participated. We discussed space rental as a revenue source, rental rates, human resource consultants, staff reductions and expansions, zoom AGM procedures, zoom dinners, zoom charades, outside Hallowe’en costume parades, and a forthcoming (date TBA) CUC Webinar on Hybrid Services (some people in the sanctuary, others at home).




Next roundtables:

Saturday, October 31, 9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. MT | 11 :00 a.m. CT | 12:00 p.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. AT

Saturday, November 28, 9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. MT | 11 :00 a.m. CT | 12:00 p.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. AT

Congregational leaders from across Canada are invited to gather monthly to share ideas and insights with each other and CUC staff. Our conversations will explore different topics with the goal of supporting our congregations and each other as we navigate the post-pandemic world with resiliency and grace.

Online via Zoom:

For on-going national UU news, subscribe to the CUC News

CUC also hosts online events including regional gatherings, discussions, round tables and webinars. Find out about upcoming events and gatherings in the CUC events calendar.