Genocide Memorial Service:
Members of all faiths and ethnic groups are invited to participate in the annual Genocide Memorial Service to be held at 1 p.m. on July 22, 2012 at 9916 – 154th Street, the home of Rev. Audrey Brooks. This event is sponsored by the Unitarian Church of Edmonton and the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Advocacy.
Each year, individuals from different faiths and cultures are invited to place a large stone in a memorial garden, inscribed with the name of a person, place or event that involved the death of an individual or group caused by violence of any kind. In particular, the Memorial Garden and ceremony is dedicated to honour those who were murdered in the Holocaust and other instances where groups of people were eliminated by planned attacks on them. There are now 39 stones in the garden, but there should be 150, including one for the people of Syria.
The Memorial Service begins with opening words by Rev. Brian Kiely of UCE and representatives from the larger community. In the past, speakers were from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, First Nations and other backgrounds, with participation of The Raging Grannies, choirs, musicians and individual singers. After brief speeches, people are invited to place their stones and tell us why it is important to honour the people whose names are inscribed on the stones. Tim for conversation and snacks follow the service.
The annual Genocide Memorial Service began as a witness to violence committed against human beings because of wars, greed, ethnic cleansing, slavery, gender bias, colonial appropriation of people and their lands, instances of neglect and political oppression, that resulted in mass extinction of helpless men, women and children.
We, the people, must speak out, must stand as witnessses to genocide, and never let the world forget that humanity stands in a pool of its own blood; this is unacceptable. It is hoped that we grow into a collective voice so powerful that our witness and protest is heard throughout the world, and others take up this cause against the horrible barbarity of genocide.
The stones in the Memorial Garden cry out against the murder of innocent people. There ar ways to resolve conflict other than mass destruction of human beings, in the name of politics, greed and exploitation of resources.
Albert Einstein said: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it ca only be kept by understanding…All my life I have hated war; it is the greatest curse of man’s history. It comes from absolute ignorance, absolute greed and absolute cruelty…Some paths a man takes cannot be retraced. Some acts cannot be undone.”
– Rev. Audrey Brooks, Unitarian Chaplain, University of Alberta Interfaith Chaplains Association & member of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Advocacy
Omar Khadr Book: (July 4, 2012) Our Social Justice Committee has bought two copies of the new book Omar Khadr, Oh Canada, about the young Canadian who has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay prison since 2002. They are now in the church library, available to members. The book was edited by U. of A. Prof. Janice Williamson, who attends the Westwood Unitarian Congregation.
The plight of Omar Khadr has been a major concern of our Social Justice Committee. Four years ago the committee held a forum on the treatment of Omar Khadr. How shocking that all this time later, the young man is still in Guantanamo.
Our Church and Social Responsibility:
The Principles of Unitarian Universalism speak in several places about our engagement with the wider world. Members and friends of UCE have deep personal commitments to a wide variety of justice and charitable causes. As a whole the church supports several as well.
Social Justice Committee
Our social justice committee takes an active interest in causes and issues of various kinds, such as protection of gay rights. Several UCE members are singers in the Raging Grannies singing group.
Sharing Our Abundance
Each Sunday we take an offering to support the work of the church, but we donate half of the loose cash in the plate to an outside charity. Typically this runs between $400 and $550 per month. In 2009-2010 these gifts have gone to Change for Children, USC Canada, Haitian Earthquake (Red Cross), iHuman Youth Society, Camp Fyrefly, Interfaith Centre for Education and Advocacy, Edmonton; ICUU, Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAF) among others.
Local Charities include:
Bissell Centre: UCE maintains a donation box for clothing and household goods gifts for the Bissell Street shelter. As well, each Christmas we hold a Mitten Tree Service and collect an enormous amount of hats, scarves, gloves and socks which also to the shelter for distribution.
Edmonton Food Bank: In 2010 UCE became a neighbourhood distribution point for the Edmonton Food Bank. Each Wednesday our volunteers unload about 650 kilos of food from the truck and distribute the pre-packaged hampers to about 20 families assigned to us each week. Most of these families live within a kilometre or two of the church.