This year, the Canadian Unitarian Council National Gathering was held in Hamilton. Ontario – and the most impressive aspect of the meetings was the Hamilton Congregation itself. You may remember Curtis Murphy and Carly Gaylor, both of whom spent time in Montreal and spoke to us here at Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Congregation. They were married last year and moved to Hamilton. Carly (now pregnant) was invited to engage in a process of discernment with the Hamilton congregation to determine how they envisioned their future. This process inspired them to undertake their Social Justice Outreach Ministry Project . This project became the subject of the Sunday Service and was one of the most powerful presentations that I have ever witnessed.. New members from across marginalized communities in Hamilton took center stage at the service to highlight how partnering with UU Hamilton has impacted their lives. Largely as a result of this outreach, the congregation has grown to over 300 members and bristles with energy and enthusiasm.
Many threads of UU’ism were present in greater or lesser degree: community outreach, spiritual practice, indigenous issues, global citizenship and wonderful music. I enjoyed reconnecting with the Canadian Unitarian-Universalists that I’ve met at other conferences, and interacting with many new members who are trying to figure out what this movement is all about – just like me!
On Saturday evening the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice showed the film Sea of Life, an award winning film by Julia Barnes, who learned in High School Biology that 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world’s oceans in the past half century, and almost half of the coral reefs are dead or dying. She was so distressed by this, that instead of spending money on college, she convinced her parents to send her to learn deep-sea diving and is making films to wake up the world to the precarious state of the oceans. Sea of Life has gained international attention, enabling Ms. Barnes to be currently filming a follow-up documentary.
The next National Gathering will be in Halifax in 2020. Plan to attend!