Author Archives: Brian Kiely

21st year serving UCE

I ask you to indulge me for a moment as I ponder the end of my 21st year serving this congregation. And no, I am not leaving anytime soon. 21 years is a long time, especially for a Unitarian minister. Many careers aren’t even that long, for this is a field that burns some people out. Most parish ministries average 7 or 8 years. Perhaps conflict grows underground and finally erupts, perhaps ministers and congregations simply grow tired of each […]

Change and Transformation

Change and Transformation Speaking of change and transformation – April’s theme – it’s been quite a six week whirlwind for our family. We put our house on the market on January 29, and sold it the same day. As I write this (March 20th) I am looking forward with the usual mix of emotions towards moving house tomorrow.  We have had our new home for about 10 days and with the help of many hands have done some renovating and painting…along with […]

What does it mean to be a Unitarian Universalist?  What does it mean to be part of UCE?

Well, those questions are likely to be answered differently by each person who claims the titles. Many of us arrive at this church for the first time a little wary of religious stereotypes we have encountered. We wonder if we will fit in with the people we meet.  We wonder if we will like what we hear in the services.  We wonder if the theology will make us feel confined or uncomfortable. For some, coming to church is about crossing […]

There was a talking circle debrief…

On January 14th as part of this series on First Nations Spirituality, our Social Justice team arranged for a Kairos Blanket Exercise. This was an ‘embodied exercise’ meaning we moved around in a very simple role play designed to help us not only think, but to feel as well. We moved around the carpet of blankets representing Canada in the role of Fist Nations people. We experienced ‘our’ lands being taken away, slowly at first and then more rapidly. I saw […]

Everyone has a responsibility

I am very much looking forward to the New Year and the two month long theme delving into the lessons of First Nations Spirituality. Since the Truth and Reconciliation Report was released in 2015, the challenge has been to weave the recommendations into the social fabric of this nation. The federal government has to do some things, the provincial governments has to do some things. Great. But the real fact is that more and more First Nations people live in our cities, […]

Looking back, looking forward

It’s been quite an autumn around the Church, hasn’t it? Our child and youth programs have been growing. There have been lots of new faces and an uptick in Sunday attendance. Our building is hopping with four choirs and an orchestra using it as well as several chefs making use of our kitchen. There is a concert soon with our own Erin Van Der Molen-Pater and friends. We had a successful adult program series on Living and Dying. Adult OWL has started again. There have […]

From the Western Regional Fall Gathering

This month UCE President Karen Mills and I and several other UCE folk attended the Western Regional Fall Gathering. We were introduced to Rev. John Pentland, a United Church minister who has led the transformation of his 60 member congregation to one of over 600 people. He was our keynote speaker and a workshop leader who gave an overview of his book “Fishing Tips”. We bought several copies to share amongst Board members and others to see if there are ideas that could be useful […]

Thoughts on “The Death of Sunday School”

“The Death of Sunday School” (PDF, source This provocatively titled essay has been causing a buzz throughout the UU universe and was the topic of the meeting between Lauren and I and the Westwood professional staff. We have also discussed this with the Board and the RE Committee. The key point in the author’s opinion is that the old ‘seen but not heard’ classroom format where children go to school while adults attend service no longer fits our culture… It is harder than ever […]

Insisting on change for change’s sake

It’s not often that I quote National Post columnist, Andrew Coyne…ok, it’s never happened, but these might be extraordinary times. I’m writing on August 10th as Donald Trump is promising ‘fire and fury’ to North Korea and Kim Jong-un is promising ‘enveloping fire’ on Guam. I am not stockpiling post Armageddon supplies of canned food and water yet, but the news is still troubling. This column is not about the odds of nuclear war. I will leave that to people who know about […]

Sometimes it’s good to take stock

Well, that year went fast! I was surprised to sit down and find myself already writing “Services for June”! Sometimes it’s good to take stock. We often do it at the turning of the year, or the changing of the seasons. For someone in my line of work, and perhaps teachers, now is as good a time as any. Our community did a great deal implementing and celebrating our Strategic Plan. We enjoyed a resurgence in the RE and Youth Programs under the […]