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CUC mourns deaths of Rev. Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the tragic death of Rev. Rodrigo (“Rod”) Emilio Solano-Quesnel, who died at age 42 in a traffic accident early on the morning of Tuesday, July 11. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and those who knew and cared for him, especially his beloved partner Sarah Wert, who was with him at the time of the accident and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

We also extend our love and support to congregants at the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Olinda, where Rev. Solano-Quesnel served as settled minister since August 2018. 

Originally from Mexico City, Rev. Solano-Quesnel moved to Canada in the early 1990s. While attending Carleton University he was introduced to Unitarian Universalism. He became an active member of First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa and felt called to UU ministry.

After going to seminary at the Montreal School of Theology (affiliated with McGill University), Rev. Solano-Quesnel served as Intern Minister at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, where he met his partner Sarah. 

After his internship, he and Sarah joined Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, which ordained him in 2016. 

Rev. Solano-Quesnel then served as the half-time Developmental Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa for two years, alternating weeks between both Toronto and Ottawa, and calling both places home before moving to Leamington in Essex County, where he was honoured to share ministry with the vibrant and historic UU community in Olinda. 

Rev. Solano-Quesnel’s impact extended far beyond his congregations. He was actively engaged in the national UU community, serving as a Director on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Board of Trustees for the last several years, and had just stepped into the role of Secretary. He brought levity, insight, level-headed wisdom, and compassion to his work on the Board. He had been a member of the Pastoral Care team for young adults, was a facilitator for the CUC’s Men’s Inclusivity Action Group, and had facilitated several dismantling racism and inclusivity forums. Rev. Solano-Quesnel was instrumental in crafting the CUC’s 8th Principle. His loss strikes at our hearts and he will be deeply missed.

Rev. Linda Thomson, the CUC’s Congregational Life Lead for the Eastern Region, will lead a service for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda, as their members mourn, on Sunday, July 16. We will announce other opportunities for remembrance and community care as they are planned.

~ From Sarah Wert and the CUC’s National Voice Team: UU Ministers of Canada President, Rev. Samaya Oakley; CUC Board President, Kiersten Moore, and CUC Executive Director Vyda Ng

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Rev. Lara’s parting message

This is my last message to you before heading off on summer break and to my new ministry, which will be in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

This photo was taken at the UUA General Assembly on June 22 as I walked across the stage during the Service of Living Tradition, to celebrate Final Fellowship and showing off the gorgeous stole that you all gifted to me.  It is truly a work of art that I will treasure.  The UUA General Assembly and ministry days were full of great conversations, presentations, worship and connecting with 3,000 UU’s from around the world.  Some very important decisions were made by delegates including strongly supporting a year of continued consideration for the ammendments to Article 2 of the UUA Bylaws, AKA the 7 Principles.  Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Grey’s term ended and an inspiring new President, Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, was elected.  I encourage you all to stay informed about what is happening in our larger denomination.  

Here are some links you might find interesting: 

I have been deeply moved by the messages from many of you as we reach the end of our time together, affirming the value and impact of the incredible transition work and ministry that we have shared over these past 3 incredible years.  I leave knowing you are strong, healthy and in good hands with Rev. Shawn. As I pack up my office, I am parting with many books . . . . free for the taking!  Please stop by during office hours and ask Marcus to let you in to take some reading or resource material during the month of July, so that Rev. Shawn has clear bookshelves to move into.  

As you move into summer-mode and then into yet another ministerial transition, I wish you all peace, curiosity, open-heartedness and spiritual nourishment. 

Warmest blessings and profound gratitude, 

Rev. Lara Cowtan

Interim Minister

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CUC repudiates Doctrine of Discovery

In its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called on “all religious denominations and faith groups who have not already done so to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples. . .” (Call to Action #49)

On Friday, May 19, 2023, members of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) heeded that call. Delegates at the Annual General Meeting voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.

“It is gratifying to see the strong show of support for the motion,” says Kiersten Moore, President of the CUC Board of Trustees, “but we cannot stop here. This is just one of many steps we must take to effect real change in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.”

Executive Director, Vyda Ng, agrees. “In addition to  repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, and urging member congregations to do the same, the CUC must advocate for legislation to formally enact the repudiation of the Doctrine nationally and within Canada’s legal systems.” (Read more here)


In other CUC News, the organization has issued an update about its Strategic Goals & Priorities following on developments at the AGM in May. (Read more here)

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Thank you from our Partner Church Committee

A huge thank you to the congregation for stepping up to help our partner church in Rutana, Burundi!

With the generous amount donated during the collection at our May 14 service, and some extra donations from parishioners, we were able to raise the amount estimated to make their new church building usable. We look forward to providing you updates as they become available. Stay tuned!

With deep gratitude,

The Partner Church Committee

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Vancouver Unitarians at the CUC

What a week it has been! I left for Ottawa last Wednesday to attend the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) gathering, AGM, and Symposium on Living into the 8th Principle. It was an uplifting, challenging, inspiring, and generative weekend. I was pleased to see a few other Vancouver Unitarians in-person and online for the first national multi-platform conference made possible by multiple owl conference cameras (including ours–thank you!)

I have been the CUC Board Secretary for the past five years, and I agreed this year to stand as President. It is with humbleness mixed with excitement and trepidation that I step into this role for my last year on the Board.  The people working at the national staff and Board level are kind, courageous, thoughtful, compassionate and dedicated to the thriving growth of our denomination. And we cannot do this work without you. 

To thrive as Unitarian-Universalists in Canada we must reach out beyond the boundaries of our individual congregations and see each other as part of something bigger. As one of the largest congregations in Canada we are positioned to be a pillar of leadership, a mother tree in a forest ecosystem. In my role as President I hope to bring the humanity of the CUC and the reality that we are a community of communities home. 

I understand that there was a deeply meaningful listening circle held here this past weekend focused on hearing and understanding each other in relation to the 8th Principle adoption. Out of that circle came a desire for UCV to create its own statement of purpose around antiracism and anti-oppression work. Our youth see the 8th Principle as the action principle–the doing, building, and getting down to work Principle. And it will be healing to work in circles of consensus to define how we, as a congregation, will manifest our work and dedication to a more just and peaceful world. It has been 7 years since we undertook a visioning process and now is an auspicious time to take up this work; re-forming ourselves in a post-lockdown time and preparing to welcome a new settled minister. I hope many of you will take the opportunity to participate. 

There have also been many conversations around how we govern ourselves, how we make decisions, and how to do so in a way that lives into our values and includes voices that are often left out. The CUC Decision Making Exploration Team is holding a series of workshops between now and January for people to practice different forms of decision making such as consensus building and sociocracy. I hope our Board and anyone else interested in new ways to generate participatory democracy will attend and help shape the CUC and Vancouver Unitarians into the future. People are asked to participate in at least three of the year’s events in order to join the January workshop on drafting a preliminary proposal for the CUC’s annual general meeting. 

Mark your calendars for June 10th, 10 am Pacific for practicing Sociocracy together: 

I look forward to seeing you in National U*U spaces!

–Kiersten Moore

CUC President and BC Region representative

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Kiersten Moore elected President of CUC

Vancouver Unitarian member and Director of Lifespan Faith Development was elected to be President of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) at its Annual General Meeting on 19 May 2023. Congratulations to Kiersten!! 

The hybrid meeting lasted 4 hours and included approximately 50 delegates online via zoom and a similar number face to face in Ottawa. At the time of registration CUC was comprised of 41 congregations with 3,845 members with 114 delegates.

Some highlights of the meeting:

  • Approved various Bylaw Amendments as presented.
  • Postponed Indefinitely the motion to approve proposed 2023 Goals and Strategic Priorities.
    This was preceded by extensive discussion of this complex document. The Board will seek more input on it and bring forward a revised document at a future date TBA.
  • Approved a motion to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and implement a related action plan.
  • Approved an update of the 2023 budget and a preliminary 2024 budget, with some concern expressed due to volatile investments and larger than usual planned deficits.
  • Appointed auditors and approved the audited financial report for 2023.
  • Thanked staff and volunteers for their dedicated work on behalf of CUC member congregations over the past year.
  • Noted that Rev Anne Barker (Edmonton) has been hired as the new full time CUC staff person – Congregational Life: Lead, BC and West Regions (replacing Joan Carolyn who retired recently).
  • Appointed Nicole MacKay as a Chaplain to the Canadian Military.
  • Noted that Rev Samaya Oakley (South Fraser/Calgary) has been elected as President of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) for 2023-24.
  • Elected and installed a new CUC Board for 2023-24 comprised as follows:
    • President: Kiersten Moore, BC Region
    • Vice-President: Margaret Kohr, Central Region
    • Co-Treasurer: Yvette Salinas, Eastern Region
    • Co-Treasurer: Margaret Wanlin, Western Region
    • Secretary: Rev Rodrigo Solano-Quesnel, Central Region
    • Member at Large, BC Region: Rev Debra Faulk, BC Region
    • Senior Youth Observer: Artemisia Frolic-Smart, Central Region
    • Minister Observer: Rev Shana Lynngood, BC Region

Meeting background documents can be found here.

Thanks to the six Vancouver members who volunteered to be UCV’s delegates at this year’s meeting: Emilie Adin, Lynn Armstrong, Marg Fletcher, Leslie Kemp, Tamiko Suzuki and Keith Wilkinson.

Report by Keith Wilkinson.

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Your Feedback Wanted on CUC Proposed Resolutions


The Denominational Affairs committee invites all members’ feedback on the proposed CUC Resolutions scheduled to be voted on May 19, 2023.

Survey re: CUC Resolutions:


We are gathering questions and comments in various ways (forum now on youtube/ cafe style discussions on Sunday March 5) and now invite all members to indicate their level of support, comments, questions about the resolutions.

We are asking for feedback so that we can compile a report for our board and send to the CUC for consideration. The Board thanked the Denominational Affairs committee for collecting nd requested the committee to submit updated information by the new deadline of April 1, 2023.  35 people have submitted so far.

The form requires your name and email address and to verify you are a member. A compilation of the ranking scales and all comments will be submitted anonymously, exactly as you write them.  After submission, the compilation will be shared with the congregation.  We do encourage you to discuss your comments with others. The survey is set up so that if you choose to go back and add or change before March 31 you are able to do so.

You may be knowledgeable about all the resolutions, or there may be only one you wish to comment on. You can answer as many or as few of the questions as you wish. The narrative questions are the questions CUC has asked for.

To see a comparison of the 2022 and 2023 Goals and Strategic Priorities click below

Questions on the survey can be directed to Mary Bennett

Your Denominational Affairs Committee is:

Keith Wilkinson, Chair

Leslie Kemp, Vice-Chair

Lynn Armstrong

Mary Bennett

Karin Hall

Ingrid Luters


Ex Officio

Rev. Lara Cowtan

President Mairy Beam



Kiersten Moore, Staff, and CUC Board Member

Olivia Hall, Staff


Mary Bennett is receiving and compiling the surveys. If you have questions or comments you can send her an email to


UCV Survey for Feedback

CUC Proposed Resolutions (may be revised after feedback)

Document comparing 2022 and 2023 Goals and Strategic Priorities

Vancouver Unitarians Call for CUC Delegates

UCV Forum by Denominational Affairs Committee on CUC Resolutions 2023

2022 Forum by Denominational Affairs Committee on Role of CUC Delegates

Forum on UUA’s Draft Article II



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