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Buildings and Grounds: A note on snow removal

The cooperation and patience of members and other users of our campus when we have snow days will be appreciated.

  • Every effort will be made to ensure that the perimeter and interior sidewalks of the campus will be clear and accessible.
  • Assume that the parking lot will not be accessible and/or it will be up to vehicle owners to determine whether or not to use it.

Many efforts have been made over the years to arrange the equipment and person-power to clear the whole site of snow. None have been found to be satisfactory. Cost of equipment – whether our own or contracted – and people availability (staff and volunteer) are the factors.

A snow-clearing route map has been prepared for the walkways. An information note is available for obtaining shovels. People are welcome to sign-up for voluntary snow clearing to complement what staff can do within their own availability, work schedules and duties.

Your help will be appreciated! (Contact: Patti Turner at pgaleturner[at]gmail[dot]com)

With thanks,

Vancouver Unitarians Buildings and Grounds Committee

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Spring is coming: Update from VanU Earth Spirituality

We in the VanU Earth Spirituality group celebrate the “turning of the wheel” – i.e. seasonal shifts marked by the equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days (those are the days halfway between a solstice and equinox.)

The next cross-quarter day, between winter solstice and spring equinox, is called Imbolc which is a derivative of “in belly” or “in milk”. The sheep are giving birth to their lambs and their milk is flowing. 

It’s also celebrated as Brigid’s Day. Brigid is a pagan goddess and also a Christian saint. There are similarities–and many differences. Brigid’s flower is the snowdrop and you’ll be seeing a lot of snowdrops emerge on the VanU labyrinth over the next while. 

And, lest we forget, it’s Groundhog Day which means Banyen Books’ annual sale.   

Here are some ways you can celebrate this early spring turning the wheel from winter to spring.

  • Light five white candles representing earth, air, water, fire and spirit.
  • Go for a walk and notice signs of spring – buds and bulbs are emerging
  • Make a Brigid’s cross using reeds or long grasses
  • Bless the tools of your trade. Traditionally this would be a time to bring out the garden tools, clean them up in readiness for the coming planting season. If you’re a gardener, you could follow suit and bring out your secaturs and trowels, clean and oil and sharpen.  You can also clean up and bless the other tools you use in your work and play, maybe your computer, art supplies, cookware or whatever… 
  • Toast Brigid with a glass of beer. There’s an Irish story that says Brigid changed bathwater into beer. (May it be so and Blessed be!)

I’m particularly fond of this time of year and the rituals to celebrate it. In Vancouver, signs of spring are easy to spot. As Denise Levertov says, “so much is in bud.” 

Our VanU Earth Spirituality group hosts two rituals each year that we open to everyone. If you’d like to receive invitations or have other questions about our group, send me a note: Mary Bennett unitarianmary[at]gmail[dot]com

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Creating Theology Together

There’s a perception out there that being a Unitarian means believing whatever one wants.

There is, of course, a lot of latitude in our tradition for shaping a theology that makes sense to us as individuals. Indeed, we are encouraged to “build our own theology,” piecing together our best understanding of the big theological questions—questions about the purpose of life and the meaning of death, the nature of the divine and the reality of evil, the call of justice and the demands of a life of integrity.

In this, Unitarianism calls us to a “free and responsible search” for truth and meaning. We are empowered to undertake a curious and critical exploration of the world around us, unencumbered by doctrine, while remaining mindful of the rich theological tradition to which we belong. Maintaining that balance between freedom and responsibility, for me, requires a community because I find that building one’s own theology is something best done in dialogue.

Later this month, in an effort to foster that dialogue, Kiersten and I will co-facilitate the next round of Creating Theology Together, a workshop that begins with a Saturday retreat on February 24th and will continues over three consecutive Wednesday evenings. In this series we’ll explore the theology we share as a congregation. Kiersten and I have substantially rewritten the curriculum to fit our context at VanU, and we hope you’ll join with us for this time of shared meaning making. We will delve into the history of our Principles, reflect on the influence of Universalism, and discuss how our theology of interdependence has changed our view of the world around us. You can find more information and register to
attend here.

I’m grateful to be sharing this adventure with you all!

In faith and love,


February Sunday Services

February 4th – “Belonging”

Kathy Sayers

It’s been said that we are living in a time of profound loneliness. Kathy Sayers, founding member of Vancouver’s newest cohousing community, explores what happiness research says about how the communities we belong to impact our wellbeing. How does knowing your neighbours well enough to borrow a cup of sugar contribute to feelings of trust? What part do casual relations—say, the woman in your local yoga class, your librarian, or your mailman—play in your happiness? Are there novel ways we can live together—like the cohousing community Kathy belongs to—that can enrich our lives and ease our feeling of

February 11th – “All Kinds of Love”

Rev. Shawn Gauthier

Though Valentine’s is often thought of as a day to celebrate romantic love, we will mark this holiday as an invitation to bask in the splendour of love’s many forms. This Sunday’s service will involve a marvellous mix of music and powerful poems that speak to the love found in many different types of relationships.

February 18th – “Facing Life’s Fragility”

Rev. Shawn Gauthier

Most any effort to make sense of our own mortality leads on to questions about how we are living “in the meantime.” This Sunday, Rev. Shawn will invite us to reflect on the delicate dance through life, and through death.

February 25th – “Worthship”

Rev. Shawn Gauthier & the Worship Services Team

This Sunday, we will explore the meaning of various elements in our weekly worship services. Rev. Shawn and the Worship Team hope to demystify aspects of worship in the Unitarian tradition, while also lifting up the complexities involved in creating worship in a theologically diverse congregation.

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Qi Gong on Sundays is back

Our inaugural course of six Qi Gong classes ended last November. See some of the members in graduating class photo below!.Now a new Spring term of 10 classes, beginning Jan. 28th, is open for registration. Priority is given for returning members. Please register by emailing Mei Jia Lam (meijialam[at]gmail[dot]com).

Qi Gong: Sundays 9:15- 10:15 am. Instructor: Hing Tse.

Mindfulness: Sundays 10:15-10:30 am. Instructor: Florence Chan.

Cost: voluntary donation, $5 per class. $45 for all 10 classes.

We’re happy to receive feedback! Looking forward to seeing you for the spring term! – Mei Jia Lam (More info)

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Vancouver Unitarians Holiday Office Closure

Please note that the office will be closed as of 2:30 pm on Thursday, December 21, reopening at 9:30 am on Wednesday, January 3, to give our staff a well-deserved break for the holidays.

In the meantime, if you need to speak with someone urgently about matters of pastoral care, please call the main number (604) 261-7204 and then option 3.

Thank you, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year!

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2023 Seasonal Events and Services with the Vancouver Unitarians

This page will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis as more details are made available. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 3, 11:00 am – How the Unitarians Created Christmas”

In this service, Rev. Shawn will highlight the many ways that Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists have given shape to what we know as Christmas. 

Sunday, December 3, 2:30 pm – Singing the Season with the Chalice Choir

Please join the Chalice Choir for a lovely afternoon of music! Reception to follow. Tickets are $20 and are available at the door  (please note: no one will be turned away for lack of funds!)

Sunday, December 10, 11:00 am – Light One Candle”

This service, led by Rev. Shawn, will seek to honour Chanukah, while also lifting up International Human Rights Day. 

Saturday, December 16, 5 to 8 pm – Winter Community Potluck

Join us for a Winter Potluck and celebrate the season with the Vancouver Unitarians! All are welcome. Please bring something yummy to share if you are able.

Sunday, December 17, 10 am to 2 pm; 6:30 – 9 pm – Holiday Craft Fair

Come find quality hand-made gifts and help support our Green Fund. Look for artisans selling cards, pottery, jewellery, knitted sweaters and scarves, hand-painted silk scarves, photos, honey, candles, and some surprises.

Sunday, December 17, 11:00 am – “Winter Pageant: “Hearts Full of Love”

In this intergenerational service, Kiersten, Rev. Shawn, and a cast of budding thespians from our Religious Education program and beyond, will revisit the nativity story and its lessons of love, care, and belonging that still hold meaning for us today.

Sunday, December 17, 7:30 pm – Candlelight Ceremony

A contemplative, candlelight service to celebrate the season of lights, with readings and music honouring many different traditions. 

Wednesday, December 20, 6:30 pm – Winter Solstice Yule Ritual and Celebration

You are invited to attend a celebration of Yule, or Winter Solstice, in the Hewett Centre.

 Sunday, December 24, 11:00 am – Christmas Eve Morning

This morning, the Sanctuary will be open for quiet contemplation and meditation. Our hope is to offer a still point at this busy time of year. At the same time, in the Hall, there will be carols, conversation, and seasonal treats for all. 

Sunday, December 24, 7:00 pm – Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

An evening of candlelight and carols, along with seasonal readings and reflections on the meaning of Christmas in our lives. Rev. Shawn’s sermon is titled: “Magnum Mysterium.”

Sunday, December 31, 11:00 am – Fire Communion Service

Our annual fire ritual to mark the turning of the year. As we bid farewell to 2023 and turn to the year ahead, we contemplate what we wish to relinquish to the past and what we wish to carry with us into the future. Rev. Shawn’s sermon is titled: “Spending Our Fire”.

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2024 Multifaith Calendars On Sale Now

Get your 2024 calendar with beautiful, community sourced original artwork beginning this Sunday!  Published by the Multifaith Action Society, these calendars make great gifts for the holidays, brighten up any room, and give you information on each month’s holidays from 14 religious traditions. Visit for more information.
Calendars available for sale at the UCV office, and in the Sanctuary foyer before and after Sunday services.

$20 or 2 for $35 (exact cash only on Nov 26, card payment options to come)
Proceeds benefit the Children and Youth Programs

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Art for Refugees: Silent Auction on now until Dec. 10th

Art for Refugees, a silent auction of art work by Karen Brumelle, is happening now in the Fireside Room through until December 10 at 12:15p.m. All money collected at this sale will be donated to the Refugee Team of the Vancouver Unitarians. Bids can be made on items in Fireside on Sundays after service. Please support the Refugee Team’s important work.

These are up in the Fireside Room in Hewett Centre at 49th and Oak. Bids starting from $75, $100, 150. Silent auction ends Dec 10th at 12:15 p.m. All money goes to the Refugee Team.

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Vancouver Unitarians vote to move their money for Climate Justice 

Members vote to divest from Canada’s Big 5 Banks over fossil fuel financing

As a co-operative and democratic community, Vancouver Unitarian members voted by a large majority at our Annual General Meeting last weekend to encourage our members, who bank at the five major Canadian banks, to move their financial business elsewhere because Canadian banks are among the largest financiers of fossil fuel corporations operating in the Canadian Tar Sands and elsewhere.

Vancouver Unitarians are an inclusive and welcoming community, 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.

Vancouver Unitarians have a long history of multifaith environmental and climate justice initiatives, and we encourage all members of faith communities and organizations to divest from fossil fuel corporations and the financial institutions backing them.

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Celebrating Our Story: History plaque dedicated in our courtyard

“Let these buildings be the realization of our dreams and ever remain a present charge upon our minds and hearts and hands. The result will be a joyful song of continuation.”

So these words remind us, from the dedication of the UCV campus on September 25, 1964. They, and other seminal texts are now inscribed on a lovely aluminum-burnished plaque overlooking the campus courtyard. A well-attended dedication event was held on Sunday, November 5 led by Buildings and Grounds committee chair Dianne Crosbie and President Mairy Beam. Reverends Shawn Gauthier and Steven Epperson were in attendance, as was the family of our late architect Wolfgang Gerson. Also present was Winn Peters, who was at the original dedication in 1964.

(Photos, left to right, top to bottom, Nov. 5, 2023: Musical prelude; Board President Mairy Beam with Catherine Stewart; the Gerson family; Rev. Shawn Gauthier; Minister Emeritus Rev. Steven Epperson)

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Outreach Opportunities Fund supports the Food Stash Foundation

From November, 2023 to February, 2024, our Outreach Opportunities Fund recipient will be the Food Stash FoundationFood Stash Foundation has a twofold mission: to prevent good food from going to waste and provide dignified food access to promote a thriving planet and a healthy community. We collect over 100,000 pounds of food per month that would have gone to waste, deliver to 35 charity partners, deliver Rescued Food Boxes to 100 plus households and serve 140 rescued food market members. 

Click HERE for more information on our Outreach Opportunities Fund.

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