CUC Lay Chaplaincy Recommendations Review Task Force
Task Force Members
Rev. Debra J. Faulk
Don Heights Unitarian Congregation
18 Wynford Drive, Suite #102
Toronto, ON M3C 3S2
107 - 4480 Chatterton Way
Victoria, BC V8X 5H7
9 Point Cres.
Kingston, ON K7M 3P2
52 - 3190 Tahsis Avenue
Coquitlam, BC V3B 6G1
Rev. Katie Stein Sather
11395 205 Street
Maple Ridge, BC V2X 1S3
Canadian Unitarian Council
949 West 49th Avenue
Vancouver V5Z 2T1
Yvonne has been a Unitarian since 1965 when her children's friends enthused about the Religious Education (RE) program at the Montreal Church. She served there as RE teacher, RE Committee Chair and Board member. During a series of family moves, she kept in touch through membership in the Church of the Larger Fellowship, and the CUC Individual Unitarian Program. She and Doug joined the Unitarian Congregation of South Peel when they moved to Etobicoke in 1982.
Her interest in the Lay Chaplaincy program began when one of her daughters was married by a Unitarian Chaplain in Montreal. This interest increased, when, as a member of the CUC Board of Trustees, she served as Board liaison to the Ministerial and Chaplaincy Committee (M & CC).
The Task Force on Chaplaincy had just been appointed, and, when its recommendations were adopted at the 2001 CUC Annual General Meeting in Montreal, she continued as member of the new Lay Chaplaincy Committee. Still located in Toronto, this committee was responsible for implementing these recommendations, until, it made the planned move to BC with new members. She was pleased to join the new CUC LCC East and Central in 2006, when an east/west split of the Lay Chaplaincy Committee was needed to improve services that covered the whole of Canada.
Yvonne's other Unitarian interests have been: Social Responsibility as a CUC Board member, Social Responsibility, Denomination Affairs, and Publicity and Growth at South Peel and Publicity for Unitarian Congregations of Greater Toronto (UCGT). She represents the latter on Horizon Interfaith Council, and is responsible for the production of Unitarian TV on Rogers Community channel.
She has worked as a medical laboratory scientist, a stay at home mother, an interviewer for cancer research and an educational software evaluator at TVOntario. Now retired, she swims, practices yoga, plays tennis and tends to a garden that will look great next year. She and Doug have three daughters, three grandsons and one granddaughter.
Carole is a half-time U.U. minister and has co-led the Lay Chaplaincy Basics Weekend with Debra Thorne to great acclaim. She has been a Director of Religious Education in the past, and is currently on a contract to create a U.U. adult education curriculum in Canadian Contextual Theology.
A former English and Art teacher, Carole is a very creative person who loves poetry. She has written an illustrated book called The Everything Seed, a story of beginnings and origin myth now in its second printing. Carole has also published a Resource Guide for The Everything Seed. She is now working on a manuscript called Obsession with Oranges.
While still in Seminary, Carole was empowered to do UU weddings by her congregation. She feels this gives her additional insight into the Lay Chaplain role. She admires the passion of Lay Chaplains and the spiritual journey they are on, and hopes her training gives Lay Chaplains a deeper recognition of the power of life transitions.
Carole has an interest in Right Relations, which include the relations Lay Chaplains have with their clients, their congregations, the CUC Lay Chaplaincy program, the Canadian UU Lay Chaplains’ Association and with the greater interfaith community. She is interested in helping Lay Chaplains understand such issues as:
their outreach function
quality control and the accountability factor
how a Lay Chaplain is different from an Assistant Minister
She believes that ideally there are close, supportive relationships between the Lay Chaplain, the Minister and the congregation. Carole says, “We are all called upon to do holy work.”
Originally from the United States, Carole has become extremely comfortable in her adopted country, and is enjoying learning a great deal of French. She has four daughters and two grandchildren with whom she is very much involved.
Margaret Rao - Lay Chaplain Toronto First
Appointed a lay chaplain in 2005, with a Master's degree in Pastoral Studies and almost three decades of teaching E.S.L. to new Canadians, Margaret brings a vibrant, warm and caring manner to every situation. “I came to our U.U. faith by way of joining the choir followed by the ‘dance choir’, as our group came to be called. In a way I felt I was returning to my religious roots as singing and liturgical dance were important elements in my Catholic upbringing. In fact, our former U.U. Minister, Mark Morrison-Reed, enjoined us newcomers to explore our own religious roots and reclaim the best of what each has to offer. Much like an interfaith marriage, wedding one faith tradition to another results in ‘a combination special’. Or, as I once explained to my immediate family: I’ve become a Unitarian Catholic- ‘catholic’ meaning ‘universal’”.
Discovering Unitarian Universalism was an answer to her prayers, as it is a faith which embraces religious diversity while espousing universal principles and values. Music and movement are the topping on the wedding cake so to speak, for they touch body, mind and spirit in a way that feeds us for the journey. American feminist and anarchist Emma Goldman summed it up nicely with these words: ‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.’
All this to say, Margaret sits on the Executive Board of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice and leads song and ‘sacred’ dance circles for all ages. She is quick to add that she’s also an avid Enneagram enthusiast and loves to teach this powerful and practical tool for understanding self and others. “More than ever we need to listen deeply to one another’s stories and lift each other up on the path to peace. Long ago Francis David wisely stated, ‘We need not think alike to love alike’. Serving the larger community as a lay chaplain is a privilege and a golden opportunity to spread the ‘good news’ of our faith – love. After all, love is our doctrine. The quest for truth is our sacrament and service is our prayer.”
Margaret and her husband Mario are the parents of three young adults.
Margo Rivera, Ph.D., C.Psych., is the Director of Psychotherapy Training in the Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University, and Clinical Leader of the Personality Disorders Service at Providence Continuing Care Centre – Mental Health Services. She has worked for thirty-five years as a psychotherapist with adults and children who are trauma survivors. She is a member of the Queen's Positive Space Committee that works to creates places on the Queen's campus where students, faculty, and staff can be confident that sexual and gender diversity will be respected and even celebrated. Margo was the chair of the Sunday Services Committee of the Kingston Unitarian Fellowship for five years, directs the KUF seasonal pageant, organizes the annual KUF Unirondack weekend, and currently serves the fellowship as a lay chaplain.
She has had a life-long love of camping and is organizing a weekend camping experience for Kingston-area lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks and their families. Margo reads morning, noon, and night, and she dotes on her four grandchildren.
Susan Stephen is the daughter of a UU minister and has three other UU ministers in her extended family. She was active in LRY in the early 1970s, and spent a semester working on staff at People Soup (the LRY magazine) in Boston. At sixteen she dreamed of becoming a minister. Instead of following in her father's footsteps, however, she became a dance teacher, owning and operating her own studio for 13 years. She worked with her State Education Association to establish curricula for Arts in the Public Schools, and has also written numerous dance reviews for the city paper. After an injury forced her retirement, she returned to school and holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in International Development. She has four adult children.
Susan is impressed with the Lay Chaplaincy programme, finding it an excellent way to meet the needs of UUs across the country in a context of localised and distant congregations. As well as being a lay chaplain for her congregation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Susan chairs the Worship Committee, sits on Vestry, and participates enthusiastically in the choir.
Susan and her husband Michael Jensen have recently immigrated to Canada from the US. They have a small farm in Central Nova Scotia where they intend to raise heirloom fruit and nut trees, bees and chickens.
I have been a lay chaplain for the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship in Thunder Bay since 1998. I was inspired to become one by watching several Unitarian Universalist ceremonies performed by our lay chaplain. I was moved by the words, how they were personal and reflective of the individuals involved in the ceremony, not just a standard service from a book. I loved the feeling of the ceremony, the warmth, and I thought, “I want to be able to do that!”
It has been a time of profound personal growth and spiritual development. I am passionate about creating meaningful ceremonies to celebrate the varied rites of passage in peoples’ lives. I particularly enjoy performing same-sex marriages; I feel that this is a powerful way of putting my belief in equality and justice into action.
For the past 15 years, I have worked in a variety of positions at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. I am also currently serving in a limited capacity as a civil marriage commissioner for the City. I live with my partner, Bert, and our three golden retrievers, Honey, Ben and Ceilidh.
Melynda Okulitch – Lay Chaplain Salt Spring Island Unitarian Fellowship
The salient facts are: Born in Vancouver, raised and schooled in North Vancouver, married to Andrew in the mid sixties (if you can remember them you weren’t there), jointly took 2 years to build a 35’ wooden sailboat together before having the first of 2 children (girl, Susanne, boy, Daniel) in the 70’s. Spent 5 years in Ottawa, where we discovered the Unitarian Church, and then the next 20 years in Calgary, where I was very active in the Church there, teaching Church School, on various committees, making life long friends and raising the family. Took my Library Technician Diploma at SAIT and worked in the Catholic School System for 8 years, especially enjoying opening the first High School in 20 years in East Calgary, including designing the library and enjoying the technical challenges.
After early retirement and wrangling a transfer for my husband to Vancouver, we moved to our dream property on Salt Spring Island in ’99, and have been building, landscaping and becoming Islanders ever since. Spirtually, living here has deepened my commitment to spiralling outward from finite to infinite. Becoming aware of my footprint on the planet both physically and humanistically begins at home and through my thoughtful activities and active thoughtfullness, spirals outward to my community and the world. Being a lay chaplain (from 2005) of this nascent Fellowship and helping to guide it from its conception has been my most rewarding activity living here.
I have been privileged to be on the CUC-LCC (West) committee for the past year and have gained a deepening understanding of the CUC while working together with the committee members. I feel a connection to all Lay Chaplains across Canada and am so proud to be a part of such an enlightened and vibrant group of persons.
Joy has been a Lay Chaplain since 1998, serving at Beacon Unitarian Church in Coquitlam, B.C. She is also past president of the CUUCA, the Canadian lay chaplains’ association, and currently the chair of the CUC Lay Chaplaincy committee.
Joy was inspired to become a Lay Chaplain by watching a UU wedding led by a Lay Chaplain. “I was moved by the words, how they were reflective of the couple, not just a set service from a religious book. I loved the openness and the commitment. There was a lot that had been created by the Lay Chaplain and the couple to make the ceremony represent them. I felt I could do that!”
Joy continues to be passionate about creating meaningful ceremonies, and that passion has led to her exploring ceremonies for many rites of passage in people’s lives. “People need support systems around what is changing in their lives. Our journey needs to be honoured. Rites of passage give them an opportunity to focus on what is important and sacred,” Joy explains.
She believes Lay Chaplains have a role to play in creating meaningful rites for those going through a divorce, mourning the death of a beloved pet, retiring from a long career, completing an alcoholism treatment program, reaching a maturity milestone (croning/saging), blessing a new home, coming out and so forth. Each one represents a need for closure or opening and sometimes both. “We need to be there to witness and to walk with people,” she adds.
Joy feels that outreach is the real work of Lay Chaplains, and that rites of passage are tremendous outreach opportunities. “People need to feel they belong, and to feel fully whole,” Joy says.
Her experiences as a Lay Chaplain proved valuable when Joy’s own daughter died at just 31 years of age. Joy helped put together her daughter’s memorial service and gave the eulogy herself. “I just couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it,” she says.
As well as working as a Lay Chaplain, Joy is the Religious Exploration Coordinator at Beacon. She is also involved in Amnesty International. Joy is enjoying her second marriage, having married John Slattery, a fellow UU who she met through the congregation. John is a past president of the CUC, and “we work on all sorts of things together.” They even designed their own wedding service as a team. Joy also has one adult son.
Meredith is a lifelong Unitarian who grew up in the University Unitarian Church in Seattle. She moved to Montreal at the age of 19 and was married in the Unitarian Church of Montreal where she was active for the next five years. She and her husband Allan then moved to Trois-Rivieres, returning to the Montreal church for the dedications of both of their children.
Meredith and Allan moved their family to Calgary in 1976 where she attended medical school. She became active in the Unitarian Church of Calgary, serving on many committees and as president of the Board of Trustees for two terms. Their two children had the wonderful experience of being members in the active youth group while in their teens.
Meredith and Allan moved their family to Calgary in 1976 where she attended medical school. She became active in the Unitarian Church of Calgary, serving on many committees and as president of the Board of Trustees for two terms. Their two children had the wonderful experience of being members in the active youth group while in their teens. Meredith has been a practising family physician for nearly 25 years, helping patients and their families with all aspects of their health in the broadest sense. She sees great similarities between assisting patients through such “rites of passage” as childbirth and terminal illness and the work she now does with formal rites of passage as a lay chaplain. Both involve taking the patient's or client's views and wishes and helping them formulate a plan, or a rite, that is most comfortable and meaningful for them. They both also require the physician or the officiant to become emotionally involved but not overhwelmed, maintaining a healthy professional attitude while being very empathetic.
Her work has included extensive teaching in the University of Calgary medical school, mainly in the area of physician-patient communication. She is also the faculty advisor for the Medical Students for Choice, a group of medical students that promotes full choice in reproductive issues.
Meredith finds time to be with her two granddaughters, swim, walk, and do yoga.