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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,

Shawn


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
separateness?

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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Children, Youth, and OWL – Register for the Year!

Happy Autumn! I hope the return to school rhythms is treating you well.
It is that time of year again when Vancouver Unitarians need to update our records and info for children and youth involved in our programs or events.  Please take a moment to fill out the registration form for any children or youth who may attend any program or event at UCV between now and next summer (online or in person).

Registration is for the safety and accountability of our staff and volunteers to your children. It helps us provide proper ratios of adults to kids, support, and age appropriate programming. Children’s information is kept private within our database and only staff and cleared volunteers have access to it; we never share your information. Thank you!

Our Whole Lives – sexuality education

We are launching this year’s offering of Our Whole Lives sexuality education (OWL) for ages 13-14 (entering grade 8/9 and/or turning 13-14 this year). If you have a child of this age (not already signed up) I hope you will take a look at the details on the Our Whole Lives page under Spiritual Growth.
If you do not have a child of this age–please share this info with parents you know who might be interested!

All that goes on around here

I hope you are enjoying exploring our new website; we have been working hard to keep it full of up-to-date information. You are now able to subscribe to our calendar and add events to your own digital calendar!
Check out all the pages under Spiritual Growth to see what is happening for children, youth, families, and adults of all ages.

This Sunday, Sept 17th, is the launch of our Fall programming. We will be creating our covenant with the kids for this year, reconnecting and getting to know each other with games during the service (11:15-12:15 after the story). Youth Group reconvenes at 1:30 this Sunday.

I look forward to seeing you around UCV this year!
–Kiersten E. Moore
Lifespan Faith Director (LFD)

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Lifespan Corner: Register now for Fall programs!

This summer has also brought its share of pain and distress from the ever increasing wildfires lending urgency to the need for deep and complex changes to how we live and work. I hope we can offer some stillness, perspective, and spiritual connection here at Vancouver Unitarians this year. We are a sanctuary offering shelter, sustenance, inspiration, and learning to strengthen our efforts to do the work and live with joy and meaning.   

The UCV staff enjoyed an intense and productive three days of planning and visioning with Rev. Shawn Gauthier and we are all feeling energized for what this new ministry will bring to the life of this community.  We have a variety of programming planned both for us to offer and to support the facilitation of. We can safely say, once more, that there is a lot that goes on around here!

Sign up now for the following Fall and Winter programs: 


Sunday Children and Youth Programs

Children’s Groups during the service, 11:15 am-12:15 pm

  • Ages 5-9: Cosmology, Celebrating our origins in the universe
  • Ages 10-12: Crossing Paths: learning about the faith of our neighbours and how it informs and relates to our own.
  • Youth programs after the service:
    • Our Whole Lives, sexuality education, for ages 13-14 (entering grades 8 or 9) Noon–1:30 pm
    • Youth Group–radically inclusive teen driven community 1:30–3:45 pm with food!

Creating Theology Together – led by Rev. Shawn Gauthier and Kiersten Moore

A three part series of retreats and workshops exploring our own theology within, defining the theology that exists amoung Unitarians, and exploring how we represent our shared theology beyond our campus.

Creating Theology Within: Saturday, October 28th–retreat 10:30 am–4:00 pm and then Wednesdays, Nov 1, 8, 15; from 7-9 pm

Creating Theology Among: Saturday, February 24th–retreat 10:30 am–2:30 pm and Wednesdays, Feb 28, Mar 6, 13; 7-9m

Creating Theology Beyond: Sunday, April 14th–retreat 1:00 pm–5:00 pm and Wednesdays, April 17, 24, May 1; 7-9pm

For more information about all Creating Theology programs, click here.


Small Group Facilitator Training with Rev. Shawn 

Gain confidence and grounding in coordinating and leading a small group or Covenant Group with skill. September 24th, 1-4:30 pm. 


UU Wellspring: Spiritual Practices

Retreat: September 30, Saturday, 1-5 pm, Fireside Room

2nd and 4th Tuesdays, October 10th through June 11th, 7-9 pm, alternating Fireside Room and Online (not multi-platform). Note: the December meetings are the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays.

Wellspring is a small group cohort that delves into aspects of Unitarian Universalism, how we live in the world and put our faith into action. This year the focus is on spiritual practices, our own and others’, and our experiences with them. We will learn about the origins of different kinds of practices, and how they relate to our U*U faith. 

Spiritual practices help us tap into deep wells of knowledge beyond our own personal experience or rational understanding. They sustain us in times of great pain, difficulty, or suffering, building spiritual resilience to sustain our work in the world. 

Spiritual Practices is one of the advanced offerings from UU Wellspring, led by Kiersten Moore and Nan Gregory, open to anyone who has been part of a Wellspring group in previous years.


Paganism 101 with Louise Bunn

10 Thursday evenings, 7-9 pm, October 5th through December 7th, Fireside Room 

Today’s Pagans revere the Earth and all its creatures. We see all life as interconnected, and we strive to attune ourselves to the cycles of nature. Our practices are rooted in a belief in immanence – the concept of divinity residing within. (More info)


UU Wellspring Reads: Crises of Life 

Six sessions online, Oct-Dec, exact date and time TBD

Crises of Life explores how the wisdom and understanding of our chosen faith supports us during the challenges and crises of life. It is based on the book, Take What You Need: Life Lessons After Losing Everything by Rev. Jen Crow. and essays in The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, African American poet, educator and dedicated community gardener. 

The course combines Rev. Crow’s wisdom with Ross Gay’s poetry and life experiences to understand that even in oppressive situations beauty and delight offer us unparalleled joy.

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CanUUdle: The National Youth Conference in Ottawa

Our youth are on the move!

As I write this, six of our youth and one lovely adult advisor are in an airplane getting ready for landing in Ottawa. The national youth conference, CanUUdle, is being hosted by First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa this year. In total, we are sending eight youth from UCV, two from South Fraser, and one from North Shore this year, along with an adult advisor from UCV (all hail Nancy) and one from North Shore (the wonderful Richard). That’s a lot! After successfully hosting the conference ourselves last year, we’re over the moon to send so many young people from our area. Five of our youth are attending as staff for the con, meaning they are holding specific leadership positions.

CanUUdle is immensely important to UU youth. It’s where they engage in spiritually fulfilling worships, make connections with peers and adults from across the country, and think up some of the silliest jokes imaginable at somewhere around 3am local time.

Every two years, CanUUdle coincides with the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual General Meeting and Biannual Conference, as it does this year. One of UCV’s delegates is accompanying our teens to help them on their flight and their tourist day in Ottawa. Thanks, Emilie!

Our kids have been fundraising all year for this, so we hope they have a good time – they might even run into our Director of Lifespan Faith Development, Kiersten, who is attending as a member of the CUC’s board, and Rev. Lara, who will be there for the ministerial conference. Hope the grown-ups have time for some fun, too!

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Eliot Institute UU Family Camps – still open!

Eliot Institute has been holding intergenerational family camps for Unitarian Universalists, their friends and families since 1947. Families from as far away as California, Wyoming, Alaska, and British Columbia make Eliot a regular part of their summer adventures. In the before (covid) times, camp spaces would fill up in the fall for the following summer creating a waitlist for those making later summer plans–not so this summer! 

Now is the perfect opportunity to start a new family tradition at Seabeck on the Olympic Peninsula at any one of the summer week-long camps: July 15-22, August 5-12, or Creative Arts week Aug 12-16. Fill your spirits, make music, play in the sun, the woods, and the sea–rack up the swim badges, drum to the polar bear swim, create amazing tie-dye, learn how to row a boat, and make friends. Added bonus: you don’t have to cook for a whole week. Kiersten, UCV’s Director of Lifespan Programs is the Children’s Program Director for August Eliot–and she would love to see more Vancouver faces there!

Camp fees cover all lodging, food, and programming–including the morning children’s program while adults are engaged. Financial assistance is available, and there are still some camp volunteer jobs available that give you camp credit towards the cost (Eliot campers make everything happen).

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Camp Blue Boat

What do you want to do this summer? Hang out with friends from UCV? Meet other kids and teens from all over the Pacific Northwest? Swim in a river? Go on a roadtrip? Have campfires every night? Take songwriting workshops? Talk about how love informs our UU beliefs through and through? Ok, that last one isn’t always as popular. But you can do every single one of those by attending Camp Blue Boat in Washington this July!

Blue Boat is a camp with two streams, one for grades 9-12 and one for 6-8. This year it will be July 16-21. And you’ll automatically have one familiar face, because Olivia is working there as a chaplain this year! And because a bunch of our teens have already registered. Blue Boat exists to deepen the connections UU youth have to their communities, to their faith, their sense of what is right in the world, and themselves. In these spaces our teens create a community that feeds their souls. But time’s running out, so register quick! For more details and the registration link, look here: https://www.uua.org/pacific-western/youth-ministries/events/pnwd-camp

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