UUFK Newsletter
September-October 2016

Read about the exciting year unfolding for UUFK and the Kamloops community!
News & Views
Sharing Our Plate Update
Upcoming Services
Planks from the Board
"Minister's Musings" Column
Theme Talk
UU Affiliate Connections 
  • Saturday, Oct. 1 - 10:00 am - noon: UU & You: a short presentation and informal conversation about UUFK and Unitarian Universalism; an opportunity to learn about UU history and how our non-creedal pluralistic faith has evolved. For new and not-so-new Members and Friends (please contact Rev. Helen to sign up)
  • Saturday, Oct. 8 - 10 am - Noon: Worship Support Volunteers training. Important opportunity for all active and "wannabe" Sunday service assistants, Chalice Circle facilitators, & lay worship service leaders. Please contact Rev. Helen to sign up.
  • Wednesday, September 28: UUFK will be at the TRU Pride Parade & Display Fair 11:00 am (set up at 10:00 am). Rally in front of Old Main building on campus.
  • September 28 - 4:30 pm: Board Meeting
  • Choir Practice: (weekly) Thursdays at 4:30 pm. Please contact Sabrina
  •  Volunteers are needed one evening per month to help with the new  Bl*UU*e Tarp Circle community program that UUFK will be launching in October (creates multi-generational fun and builds community: the program provides a simple meal, followed by collaborative creative activity.) Please contact Rev. Helen. 
Sharing Our Plate Update
On September 18th, we began a new monthly spiritual giving practice of "Sharing Our Plate" (the Sunday Offering). What a success! Thank you to all members, friends, and visitors who gave so generously to ASK Wellness, the first of 10 designated local groups UUFK will be supporting this year. Your collective gifts totalled approximately $262.00 and will help to make a difference in our community.

On Sunday October 16th (World Food Day), UUFK will Share Our Plate with the Kamloops Food Bank Society. 

We will Share Our Plate every 3rd Sunday of the month with one of ten local groups and organizations providing programs and services in the Kamloops area.  Each month a representative from the designated organization will be invited to come to the 3rd Sunday worship service to describe how the organization or group serves our community. 

How Does Sharing Our Plate Work? At the Offering time during the 3rd Sunday worship service, you will be asked to give an amount of your choosing to the designated local organization.  Please make cheques out to the organization we are supporting that month; you may also give cash.  Please write your name and address on the donation envelope. The UUFK Treasurer will relay the collected funds to the recipient organization on behalf of the Fellowship. If you donate $20.00 or more and include your contact information, the recipient local organization will provide you with a charitable tax receipt
Great start! Let us continue to be generous with our community neighbours!
Upcoming Sunday Services (10:00 am at Valleyview Hall)

Sept. 25: Chalice Circle Service on theme of "Invitation"

Oct. 2: What does it mean to be a people of “Blessing”? Traditional religious understandings of “blessing” suggest it has to do with “God’s favour and protection”. How can Unitarian Universalists embrace and celebrate the concept of "blessing" in our lives?  Rev. Helen

Oct. 9: Contemplative Service with Janet K.

Oct. 16: On this World Food Day, Rev. Helen will reflect on how our spiritual lives inform what we eat and our understanding of what it is to be “hungry”. We’ll talk about the act of giving food to others. This Sunday we will Share Our Plate Sunday with The Kamloops Food Bank Society.

Oct. 23: Chalice Circle Service featuring poetry - Theme: "Blessing" with Wendy W.

Oct. 30: Samhain marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark time if the year.  It is variously practiced as Halloween,  All Saints Day, the Day of the Dead.  Come and join us as we honour our ancestors. with  Barbara B. 
  • The Board confirmed the decision to purchase liability insurance.
  • The Minister's discretionary fund was approved.
  • An outreach event at the Art We Are is planned for November 18.
  • Approved the submission of a grant application to the West Fund
  • An EGM will be held October 16th to discuss possible revisions to the Minister's contract.
Minister's Musings

My summer break included a combination of academic work, regional travel, and "staycation" summer fun. I enjoyed a trip to the Island to visit my sister between preaching dates in Victoria and Vancouver. I also spent a few days on Salt Spring Island where I attended a Talking Circle in the bush with a local Indigenous activist and some new friends. I also spent a blissful week camping with Camilla at Lac Lejeune, replete with campfires, toasted marshmallows, hiking, and   many naps. 
Alas, summer seems to have slipped away so quickly! And  now here we are, barrelling through mid-September, trying to find our groove after a two-month Fellowship hiatus.

September in Kamloops seems to explode with activity as organizations, schools, and community groups all ramp up for a new season. Our Fellowship is no different. Our first service this season, Ingathering / Blending of the Waters experienced average attendance with some regular members and friends still on the vacation track, but we were pleased to welcome Bevin, Bailey, and Ocean Avlier back to Kamloops and to UUFK after several years living in Edmonton. I am so delighted to see this shift happening; I believe that having children in our midst is imperative to congregational health.

The following Sunday gathering bustled with visitors and returning members and friends. We also had Matt McLean from ASK Wellness speak about the good work his organization does in Kamloops. Sharing Our Plate is a spiritual giving practice that creates another opportunity for us to build energy within, and develop rapport with the larger community. 

In early September I did an inventory and recorded all the possessions UUFK owns (from coffee cups and hymnals to RE curricula and candles). It was a good excuse to clear some of the clutter, to re-organize things so they can be easily accessed and located. Thanks to Claire and Anne for helping out with that chore.

I also met with local clergy colleagues about building up an Interfaith group here in Kamloops. Hopefully, we can find ways to do what it takes to develop and sustain a meaningful, active group. 

A small group of women joined me in organizing the first Death Cafe held in Kamloops. It was terrific that several UUFK members were present at the Art We Are with 45 other individuals from age 19 to 86, as we gathered over coffee and cake to have an open, respectful conversations on the topic of death and dying. At least two more Death Cafe events are planned for October and November. 

I truly appreciate everyone's patience as I and the Board, the Worship committee and Claire (our liaison to the City rental clerk/dragon) try to smooth some of the processes for storing UUFK materials and setting up for Sunday services. We must adapt to meet new and emerging needs and realities. You will receive news shortly, and quite likely also some requests seeking scheduled volunteers for Sunday service set up. 

No one ever said "church" is always meant to be an easy ride; Author Annie Dillard writes:
"It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return."
I'm not really certain what she means by this, but I take it as a rallying cry to be fierce in our faith and commitment to the spiritual community which sustains us. 

I believe the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kamloops is teetering at the edge of a breathtaking divide, where a slight increase in membership and active engagement could lead to UUFK becoming a breakthrough congregation...and yet, a slight decrease in membership and engagement could lead to extinction. I am placing my bet on the former, and I hope you will too. 

Living my faith as best I can,
Rev. Helen
"Theme Talk"
UUFK Themes for 2016-17
September - "Invitation"
October - "Blessing"
November - "Letting Go"
December - "Expectation"
January - "Creativity"
February - "Love & Justice"
March - "Our Bodies"
April - "Resistance"
May - "Compassion"

(These resources on the theme of "Blessing" come from Soul Matters Sharing Circle)

In October, we ask: What Does It Mean To Be A People of Blessing?
 A Soul Matters facilitator writes, “I guess after plan A fails, I need to remember there's a whole alphabet.” 
It’s not just our friend who needs help remembering that “there’s a whole alphabet” out there; it’s all of us. We all get stuck in wanting things a certain way. We all, at times, focus so intently on the few things going wrong that we completely miss the dozens of things that are going right. Tunnel vision too often takes over our days.
For our Unitarian Universalist faith, this is the central tragedy of the human condition. We respect those who frame our problem as sin and tainted souls, but it’s nearsightedness that our religion is most worried about. For us “a life of blessing” is less about securing eternal reward or forgiveness; it’s more about widening our view. 
And there’s a lot at stake when it comes to this wider view. When the world seems stingy to us, we are stingy to others. Those who feel blessed have little trouble sharing blessings with others.  Our tradition takes this calculus seriously. As UU minister, Rev. Don Wheat, puts it “The religious person is a grateful person, and the grateful person is the generous person.”   
So this month the question in front of all of us is not simply “Do you notice the blessings all around you?”  It’s also, “How are the blessings in your life leading you to bless others?”  There is indeed a whole alphabet out there. May we notice it, and help each other do the same.

Spiritual Exercises
Option A
Don’t Just Look at It—Taste It!

Psychologist and author Rick Hanson, writes, “Scientists believe that your brain has a built-in ‘negativity bias.’ In other words, as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots. That’s because – in the tough environments in which our ancestors lived – if they missed out on a carrot, they usually had a shot at another one later on. But if they failed to avoid a stick – a predator, a natural hazard, or aggression from others of their species – WHAM, no more chances to pass on their genes.” This is bad news when it comes to noticing and holding on to the blessings of our lives. For instance, it often takes five good experiences to make up for a single negative one. Or as Hanson points out, “In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.”
Fortunately, we are also equipped with the simplest but most effective antidote: attention. Truth is, blessings abound.  And all it takes is 20-30 seconds of attention to and attunement with a blessing for it to sink in.
So this month, start up a new relationship with your blessings.  Don’t just notice them; notice them longer. Or as Hanson puts it, “It’s like sitting down to a meal: don’t just look at it—taste it!” You can do this in all sorts of ways: consciously pause and focus your attention, eat slower, look longer, keep a journal and jot down what happened, when and how it made you feel. It’s as simply as just not letting yourself get distracted and rushing on to the next urgent thing.
Come to your group ready to share how this practice of intentionally holding on longer altered your days and recalibrated that balance between our negativity bias and the blessings trying to sink in.   

Option B
Reach 100

“Jewish tradition gives us a goal: We should say one hundred blessings each day. When we try it, we discover that it’s quite difficult to find one hundred things each day for which to be thankful.  So difficult, in fact, that we spend most of our time looking.” (Dannel I. Schwartz and Mark Hass)
Here’s more information on this practice of finding 100 Blessings each day:
But if we’re looking for 100 blessings each day, how would we have room in our day to do anything else?! The response of rabbis is “How could you possibly make it through a day without it?”

So, try it.  See if you can make it to 100. Then try it again the next day.  Then again. And after that see if you want to stop.

Option C
Pay It Forward

Many of us are likely familiar with the idea of “paying it forward” rather than simply “paying it back.”   To pay someone back for a blessing or gift accomplishes little more than evening the score. The concept of paying it forward changes everything. Suddenly the blessings in our life are sources of abundance rather than sources of debt. This spiritual exercise invites you to tap into these sources of abundance.
Two simple steps:
  1. Spend a few days assessing the major blessings in your life.
  2. Then figure out how to share them.
The key is to identify blessings that can and should be spread beyond the circumference of your personal experience.   It may be a favorite trail in the woods that you share with a friend.   If doing art feeds you personally, take a child under your wing and stimulate their love of color and light the same way someone once did for you.  Maybe you’ve been helped through tough times and learned a lot because of it. If that’s the case, then who in your life is going through tough times now and needs the blessing of being able to talk to someone who has “been through it before”?  The options are endless. We can pass on and pay forward wisdom, wealth, support, passion and even the love of simple things--like gardening, skiing or music.
The point is to get so in touch with the way you’ve been blessed that you can’t help but want to spread that blessing around.  

Definition: a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being; a person's sanction or support.
Synonyms: gift, good fortune, miracle, grace (as in, a prayer before meals), protection, favor, benediction
Wise Words
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. -- Thornton Wilder
To look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And then another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learn to be in love with my life again. -- Barbara Kingsolver

“Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway. This is the heart of blessing. To believe in blessing is to believe that our being here, our very presence in the world is the first gift; the primal blessing.” -- John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us

The Art of Blessing the Day
But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.
-- Marge Piercy
Read the full poem here:

Sense of Blessing
I know what a blessing looks like,
and I’m not talking about a picture of
the Pope placing his cupped hands
on a child’s head.
It looks like the midnight delivery
of a stunned and wide-eyed Indian orphan
to her adoptive parents at the baggage claim
carousel in Terminal E of Logan Airport;
and a full moon rising over Mt. Katahdin
on an autumn night so clear and cold
it makes your teeth ache.
I know what a blessing smells like, too:
The head of your month-old niece,
thrust into your arms by your dead-tired
sister who wants nothing more than a
few hours of uninterrupted sleep;
and the aroma of fresh-baked bread
that catches you off-guard
as you walk past a bakery,
head bowed against the cold, and grief,
on the way to your grandmother’s funeral.
A blessing tastes like the cherry
popsicles you used to split with
your dad on the front stoop just
before bedtime in summer,
when the light was soft and
the pavement still hot under your toes.
The deafening roar of water cascading
into an Ithacan gorge is the sound
a blessing makes; and, too,
the silence of the pre-dawn forest,
when the insects have gone to ground
and birds have not yet begun
to bid the morning welcome.
And I know – thank God I know –
how a blessing feels: Like walking
out of the shadow of a skyscraper,
or your own fear, and feeling the sun
on your face for the first time in forever;
and waking up every morning
next to the person who saved your life.
-- Peter Friedrichs, Soul Matters minister

Videos & Podcasts
“Difficulties Illuminate Existence”
Rev. Gary Smith reads from his essay in Landscapes of Aging and Spirituality, and reminds all of us, regardless of age, about the hidden blessings in “the boulders of our lives.”

Nature Rx
A funny and clever video about the healing blessings of nature.

Movies & Television
Blessings: The Tsoknyi Nangchen Nuns of Tibet
This compelling documentary “tells the story of 3000 nuns living in the remote nomadic region of Nangchen in Eastern Tibet who practice an ancient yogic tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Despite near extinction during the destruction of the Cultural Revolution, these remarkable spiritual practitioners have emerged to rebuild their monasteries by hand - stone by stone. … A unique meeting of East and West, the film is an inspiration to anyone seeking a spiritual path through the challenges of 21st century life.”

“One woman decides to change the world by changing the lives of the people she knows in this charming and romantic comic fantasy.”
Babette's Feast
“Thank You” by Alanis Morissette
“The Play” by Peter Mayer
“Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer

Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now
by Rebecca Ann Parker
This collection of essays inspires a “renewed dedication to engage in making the world a blessed place that is open and welcoming to all people. This is simply a remarkable set of essays and anyone who is concerned with liberal religion, diversity, or issues of social justice needs to read this volume.” (from the Amazon review) Book available here:

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings  by John O’Donohue
John O’Donohue’s “compelling blend of elegant, poetic language and spiritual insight offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life. O’Donohue looks at life’s thresholds—getting married, having children, starting a new job—and offers invaluable guidelines for making the transition from a known, familiar world into a new, unmapped territory. Most profoundly, however, O’Donohue explains “blessing” as a way of life, as a lens through which the whole world is transformed.”

Learning To Fall: The Blessings Of An Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons
“Philip Simmons was just thirty-five years old in 1993 when he learned that he had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and was told he had less than five years to live. As a young husband and father, and at the start of a promising literary career, he suddenly had to learn the art of dying. Nine years later, he has succeeded, against the odds, in learning the art of living. Now, in this surprisingly joyous and spirit-renewing book, he chronicles his search for peace and his deepening relationship with the mystery of everyday life.”
My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen
The author, “a cancer physician and master storyteller, uses her luminous stories to remind us of the power of our kindness and the joy of being alive. Dr. Remen's grandfather, an orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah, saw life as a web of connection and knew that everyone belonged to him, and that he belonged to everyone. He taught her that blessing one another is what fills our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects us more deeply to life.”


Events: Bid Night 2016
Book Group
Blue Tarp Circle Program



The program and ministry of the UU Fellowship of Kamloops is independently supported by the generous gifts of its members and friends. One way we do this is through the annual “Congregational Canvas” which asks all members and friends to make a pledge for the year, estimating the amount they expect to reasonably give to the Fellowship, and how they plan to honour their pledge (monthly, bi-annual payments etc.).
Equally important is “Bid Night” an event held every Fall to help raise funds for the Fellowship.  It begins with a pot luck suppertime meal; this is followed by an entertaining live “auction” of goods and services conceived and donated by members and friends. There's also have a table of small items for sale such as home made wine, hand knit hats, jams and other preserves, books, etc.
UUFK Bid Night 2016 will be held on Saturday, October 15th at the home of Roland and Anne Neave (2068 Sifton Avenue, Kamloops).
Rev. Helen will "MC" and provide a taste of her unabashedly wickedly funny stand up comedy.
Please let Roland know how you will contribute to Bid Night’s live auction and small item table.

To get you started, we’ve provided some examples of possible Bid items. Don’t be shy! Be creative! Draw from your own skills and talents, connections, and resources and generate your unique Bid Night donation ideas! 
Please submit your Bid Night donation item details to Roland Neave by Friday, October 7th so he can compile and distribute the list to the congregation. Email:

Here’s what Roland needs to know:
* Name of donor
* Description of offer
* How many people can you accommodate? (e.g. for a dinner)
* How many times it is offered
* Date of the event (if applicable)
* Minimum bid accepted
Be kind to our hard-working volunteer cataloguer! Please don’t call Roland after the deadline has passed to get your offer squeezed in. It is extra work to do this. Make a note of this deadline; let’s flood Roland with offers before October 7!!
  • Farm-to-Table Gourmet Dinner for 6 – minimum bid $30.00 per person)
  • All Day Canoe Excursion (for one, or two) – minimum bid $100.00 per person
  • Retro Trivia Tournament (unlimited number) – standing bid $10.00 per person
  • Golf lessons (individual or group) –  minimum bid $30.00 per person
  • Disco Lives! Dance Party (unlimited number) – minimum bid $20.00 per person
  • Fresh loaf of home made bread (or dozen cookies) delivered once monthly for 6 months (1-2 offers) –  minimum bid $30.00 per person
  • Dutch Dining for 6 guests (foods of the Netherlands) – minimum bid $25.00 per person
  • Take My Camper for a Week! Loan of camper or trailer for one week, return drive & set within 100 miles. Minimum bid: $200.00
  • Tacos & Tall Tales (interactive story telling & taco dinner) for up to 15 people – minimum bid: $15.00
  • Custom carpentry project (chest, shelving, table etc.) materials paid by bidder –  minimum bid: $50.00
  • Pool Pizza Party (hosted at a local indoor pool) unlimited. Standing bid: $15.00, kids free
  • Cinco de Mayo Fiesta (Mexican theme, sangria and snacks and music) 10-15 people. Minimum bid: $20.00
  • Croquet & Mint Julips (Southern style event) for up to 15 people. Minimum bid: $25.00
  • Symphony tickets for 2. Minimum bid: $30.00
  • Home Chef Services Weekend (Dinner, next day breakfast and lunch). Bidder pays for food costs. Minimum bid: $50.00
  • Souppper Saturdays (pot of soup delivered locally on Saturdays for 4 weeks) Minimum bid: $45.00
  • Put up (and take down) your Christmas lights. (up to 3 homes). Minimum bid: $25.00 per bidder
  • Okanagan Wine Day Tour (up to 4 people) minimum bid: $75.00
  • Sewing, knitting, or quilting custom work (various) minimum bid depending on project & materials
  • 10 hours gardening labour. Minimum bid: $80.00
  • Guided hiking day trip (up to 6 people) minimum bid: $20.00 per person
  • Shucks! (corn roast party) up to 20 people. Minimum bid: $15.00 per person
  • Fresh flowers delivered weekly for your table for 6 months (in season) minimum bid: $35.00
Book Group
October 15th - 12:30 pm- Presenter: Barbara B. Host: Eleanor Hancock
"Fifteen Dogs - An Apilogue" by Andre Alexis -- "And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old 'dog' ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings.  André Alexis's contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks."
Introducing: Bl*UU*e Tarp Circle Program

Bl*UU*e Tarp Circle will be a new monthly outreach initiative of UUFK, offered with great affection within the  larger Kamloops community. We are still awaiting confirmation from the Public Library administration, but there is good reason to hope it will be held at the Downtown Kamloops TNRD Library. 

First a simple meal will be provided and shared, followed by a fun and exciting time spent in collaborative creative activity…a program night might involve crafts, collage, music, games, building up, or stuff taking apart… it could get messy, but that's no problem, because it all happens on a big blue tarp (hence the clever name!) There will be a limited number of spaces available, with the Library maintaining a sign up sheet at their downtown site; UUFK members and friends can sign up by contacting Rev. Helen.

Why? We are all worthy artists and creators! Why not make new friends, have fun, learn together through sharing and co-creating?

Who? Bl*UU*e Tarp Circle welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to participate; no special skills required! (children under 10 years must be accompanied by a participating responsible adult)

When? Once a month, mid-week (5:30 pm - 7:30 pm) beginning in October. Exact date to be confirmed soon!

For information or to volunteer please contact Rev. Helen -- (250) 572-2018

What's Happening Around Kamloops?


What's Happening Around Kamloops?

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