February 2020 Newsletter
Everyone Welcome to Our Sunday Services 

Services start at 11:00am
Service Details & Presenters Are Below
February 2
Making Waves 

Presented by Sharon Fulton, Ron Wilson and Rev. Debra Thorne

February 9
The Spoken Word of Justice
Presented by Tracy Myers and Myron Makepeace
(Tongue and Groove)

February 16
Economic Justice 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

February 23
A More Just World
Presented by Beth McLin

At FUFON we create spiritual connection and
bring compassion, discovery and social justice to life.

           February 7      Spaghetti Night with Tony Turner  5:30pm  

           February  16   
Town Hall Meeting  after the service
           February  21   
Messy UU Church   5:00pm
Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” It’s such a simple statement and so true. It cuts through all the complex arguments we might have about societal problems and lays the need for action gently at our feet.  This month the theme we are exploring is justice. It comes from the second principle: we affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
We affirm that being fair in our relations with each other is needed and necessary.  Fairness or justice is at the root of respectful relationships.

I invite you to think on what you know of injustice, a time when you felt that others were treating you unfairly. If you have a memory of it, then I suspect you also remember your response to being treated unfairly. Anger, helplessness, sadness are some of the reactions you might have had. 

Can you imagine being treated that way every day? Waking up in the morning knowing that you are going to have to face these feelings that come from being treated unfairly.  I would like to think that I might be able to transcend the difficult feelings and like Anne Frank retain my faith in myself and the human race, even while I was being dealt with unjustly. Is that grace or resilience?  Perhaps a little of both. 

Like Anne we may think that justice is something that we do to improve the world. We ‘make’ justice happen. What if justice was also what we are?  A state of being from which our actions flow. I am just. You are just. We are just.

During the month of February, may you be just in all your relationships!
Warmly, Rev Debra
February 2
Making Waves 

Presented by Sharon Fulton, Ron Wilson and Rev. Debra Thorne

The ship of justice is built to sail in both calm and stormy weather. As are we. Unitarian Universalists across Canada have been on the front lines and in the courts working for social change since 1961.  We may be a small organization but we have made big waves in the social justice waters of this country.

All of the offering today will be given in support of the Sharing Our Faith program of the Canadian Unitarian Council.

February 9
The Spoken Word of Justice
Presented by Tracy Myers and Myron Makepeace (Tongue and Groove)

The art of Spoken Word is deeply rooted in social justice, and is one of the ways that artists speak truth to power, and help raise the collective consciousness. Join us as we continue February's theme of Justice with Tongue and Groove, an entirely original, usually provocative, never boring duo that speak to privilege and oppression, rage and grief, violence and love. 

Tongue and Groove is a political, musical, lyrical project that spans 20 years of creative work. Their aim is to move heads and hearts with words and bodies with groove.  They have adopted the motto attributed to Emma Goldman “If we can’t dance we don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

February 16
Economic Justice 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Martin Luther King anticipated his assassination when he shifted his message from racism, to what he said was its source, economic injustice. Today, as the gap between rich and poor widens across the world, what are the ethical responsibilities of governments, corporations and individuals? Is economic equality possible or even desirable?

A Town Hall meeting follows the service. Town hall meetings are a time to get updated on what's happening around the Fellowship, and everyone who is interested is welcome.

February 23
A More Just World
Presented by Beth McLin

Everywhere, every day, people come into conflict with the law. What then though? How might we rethink our responses to conflict and make a shift toward approaches that will reduce harm, increase community, and create a more just world? This talk introduces some ways to rethink our views about justice.

Beth McLin is a professor in the Criminology Department at Vancouver Island University and one of the lay chaplains for First Unitarian Nanaimo. As a dual citizen with roots in the American Southwest, Beth spent almost two decades working in the public sector as a researcher and program manager with a focus on advocating for public safety and policy solutions. Her academic focus centers on conflict resolution; arts-based interventions; and societal responses to rule breaking. Her latest project involves a focus on decolonizing education by bringing Indigenous perspectives and voices from the margins to the classroom as equals beside more common and dominant perspectives.  

In creating the beloved community here at FUFON,
we remember that relationships are more important than the issues

We, the members and friends of FUFON, commit to:

a) consider our personal responsibility in the community
b) come from a place of compassion and integrity in our communications with others
c) work to uplift congregational life
d) be mindful of the breadth of diversity in our congregation
e) engage in conflict respectfully
Scam Primer
As most of you know, recently there was an attempt to scam people in this Fellowship using the name of our minister. We are not alone, as other UU congregations have also been targeted in this latest scam. In this digital age we live in knowing how to detect and avoid scams is a useful survival skill.

In regards to FUFON and scams, the first thing to know is that, outside of our fundraising and canvassing efforts, no one in leadership positions at the Fellowship (not Rev. Thorne, and not the Board or its individual members ) is going to ask you for money. You will never be approached to buy gift cards or the like.

Don't be swayed by claims of an emergency. In general, emails asking you for money, or to buy something on someone's behalf are red flags. If you get such a request, it is advisable that you check the email address the request was sent from. Is this the usual email address this person uses? If not, you may have a scam on your hands.

Of course, if you are not sure an email request you get is genuine, you can always phone the person and check with them directly, or write them an email (starting a new email, NOT in a 'reply' to the suspicious email).

Please share this with others, make sure to be reaching out to FUFON members who are vulnerable, particularly those who didn't grow up in the digital era, and stay safe out there!

An informational note:
- In Canada The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has information available to you online, and you can report attempted fraud here:
The Membership committee is thrilled to see how
our Fellowship is thriving and growing.

On January 12th we welcomed three new members, Dale and Penny Bent and Jane Nares. To get to know more about them, please read their bios below.

We thank Joan Clarke for her 9 years as an invaluable member of our committee. We welcome Sue de Balinhard as a new member of our committee.

Jane Nares
My name is Jane and I am very happy to have become a member of FUFON.  I was born in London, England, but we moved down to a village in Devon, in the southwest of England, when I was 6 and that’s where I grew up.  I first came to Canada in 1977 and moved here two years later, settling in Victoria.  At the time, I was working in theatre, making costumes and when not working in Victoria, travelling across the country working in other provinces.  In 1986, I moved my base to Ontario, then in 1990 decided to make a major shift so I could stay in one place and went back to school to study library science.  Some years later I found myself working in non-profit in Toronto as a manager.  Three years ago, I came back to BC for a visit, decided I wanted to move back here, and bought a house in Ladysmith.  I moved this past October and am very happy to be back on the Island. I plan to follow my passion, starting an interior decorating/colour consultation/home staging business.

I joined the Neighbourhood congregation in Toronto, in 2011.  I was looking for community with like-minded people and I found it there!  I became the Greeters’ Coordinator, led hiring committees and assisted with annual fundraising auctions.  Also, I was on the Board of Unicamp, the UU camp, north of Toronto.  Leaving my Ontario UU friends was hard but made easier once I found the great congregation at FUFON!

Dale Bent
I was born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, and met Penny at the University of Alberta. I was one of the first people to work with computers, starting with a very early machine around 1957.  I am known for writing a statistical program called SPSS, which I wrote while a Ph.D. student at Stanford. I have spent my whole career in university settings, as both a professor and administrator.  In August of 2020 Penny and I will have been married 60 years. We have four children, ten grandchildren.

I spend my leisure time watching Ted Talks, reading non-fiction, and listening to jazz.
My spiritual journey has included Anglicanism, Buddhism, and the teachings of Ken Wilber, all of which has led to FUFON.

Penny Bent
I am a BC native, born in Kamloops; my mother was born in Kamloops and my father in Kaslo. I left BC when I was twelve and have always wanted to come back, and was delighted when my husband Dale and I were able to retire to Nanaimo. We have four children and ten grandchildren, and we live in a three generation family here with our eldest daughter and a grandson. I started out my work life as a writer for the Alberta government, went on to be a computer pioneer and ended up at age 40 a lawyer.  I practiced for 25 years in Alberta and Ontario, and briefly taught in New Zealand.  In retirement I have discovered genealogy, and I love the research and writing.
Cold and snowy January storms have kept the shelter full with guests seeking respite from the freezing temperatures and challenging weather conditions that we have been experiencing. December’s statistics indicate that 826 bed nights were offered, which works out to an average of 28 guests per night. The opening of the Extreme Weather Shelter at St. Peter’s Church has taken some of the pressure with an alternate place to send people to if our facility is at capacity of 30.

Showers at Caledonia Park operated by the Unitarian Weather Shelter have also experienced stable numbers with 209 showers, an average of 11 showers over the month of December.

Carole VanWarrten was the successful candidate for our recently created outreach position. She began her position in mid-January and will be working 24 hours a week. We look forward to sharing outcomes of the project as it gets underway. Staff at the shelter have been historically assisting guests secure housing in an informal fashion, and now with a dedicated program and staff person we anticipate being able to place more individuals in secure housing.

Outreach involves much more than the housing aspect, however. An outreach worker takes a holistic approach, meeting a client where they are and accepting who they are. Establishing a relationship and getting to know an individual is paramount, as most street entrenched people will need to establish a bond of trust before they can feel comfortable with working with anyone. An outreach worker will support individuals, assisting them in accessing health, housing and social services within a harm reduction model that is person centred, with a multidisciplinary and multiagency approach.

In The Guardian News, an article aptly titled, “The Secret Life of a homeless outreach worker” the anonymous writer states how people inevitably say to him that, “it must be such rewarding work!” The writer agrees that it certainly can be, but that it is more often frustrating, bewildering, exhausting, tedious and not a suitable line of work if you have poor circulation or a delicate sense of smell.

He describes that a typical day may involve a search for an elderly drinker with mental health issues and a serious hoarding issue. Meanwhile, he and his coworker have deep cleaned the apartment of a couple with drug addictions as it seemed they were incapable of anything beyond finding a way to satisfy their cravings. The writer explains that not all of his clients have addictions, some are broken and distrustful with the level of trauma and abuse experienced being simply unbelievable. It is likely that Carole’s experiences in this challenging line of work will parallel the writer’s and we send her into that fragile community with thoughts of safety, self-care and perseverance.

The shelter committee is planning another community dinner in March of this year. As in previous years, the goal is to help create a connection between FUFON members and friends with the shelter guests. Getting together to break bread and enjoy a meal is a way to embrace our similarities.  We look forward to seeing you there and will post details as they become available.
Debra Librock
Shelter Chairperson

 Unitarian Shelter   
595 Townsite Road     (250) 754-3720

The answering machine is checked daily for messages and calls are answered as possible depending on staff and client needs.

Shelter Facebook page:
Contact the Outreach Program c/o or 250-758-1601.

We are exploring January’s focus, Compassion, within this year’s theme, UU Principles. We have been taking a closer look at the work of the shelter, with much thanks to the Shelter Director, Lois Peterson. The children had a tour and Q&A with Lois to better understand the challenges of homelessness and the lives of people in our community who are not adequately housed.

This has allowed us to explore the idea of home, and what that means to us as individuals, as a church community, and as members of the greater community of Nanaimo. We have almost completed the very bright and cheerful sign for our Thank You wall in the religious education room. It will expand over the months as our themes invite us to take a closer look at our own lives, and recognise all we are thankful for. Furthermore, it helps us understand that, at our core, we all long for and need the same things to feel happy and secure.

The idea of home will follow through to next month, when we will be looking at the plight of refugees around the world, and right here in Nanaimo. The children will take part in an exercise where they will be made to decide what to take on their voyage to their new home. This supported exercise will gently highlight the sorts of decisions and situations faced by people forced to flee their home countries. Compassion grows with understanding of other people. The RE program looks for creative ways to support learning as a means of developing compassion.
Next MessyUU Church is Friday, February 21st
    Stay tuned for more details!            

Sibyl Birrell
Religious Education Program


Deadline for submissions is the 15th of the month
Next publication date: February 21st
Contact the newsletter editor at

First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
FUFON uses Fair Trade coffee.
Our hall is wheelchair accessible through the front door.
We have a T Loop system for those persons having a T Loop switch.

250.755.1215 or email us at
Our mailing address is: 595 Townsite Rd. Nanaimo BC, V9S 1K9 

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