Please join us via live stream on Zoom at 11:00am - Details are below Zoom service links are in the weekly update emails

Sunday, December 6
What Holds You? The Heart of Theology
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne 

Sunday, December 13
The Breaking Time - A Theology of Suffering 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Sunday, December 20
The Light on Offer: Reflections on Winter Solstice   
Presented by Leah Hokanson

Sunday, December 24  4:30pm
Joy to the World!  A Christmas Eve Service
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne 

Sunday, December 27
Mirth and Music -- 2020 Apocalypse Edition
Presented by Debbie Goodman and Tony Turner
Our theme for the month of December is ‘Theologically Alive’
For me, this means that when we consider our faith and beliefs, we are not examining dusty historical debates or even the faith/beliefs that we grew up in and maybe rejected. Being ‘theologically alive’ means we are delving into a living faith that has relevance and meaning in our lives, today. So, when I ask, ‘What do you put your faith in?’ You could respond. ‘Reason.’ Or, I ask, ‘What is your theology?’ And you might reply, ‘My theology is love!’ Or a valid answer is 'I don't know!'

There are many ways to see through the lens of theology. There is Liberation Theology, which is a belief that the work and person of Jesus the Christ was focused on the poor and challenging the social and political systems that kept the poor, poor. There is the theology of suffering, in which the suffering in our lives is given a sacred meaning and purpose. All major religions understand that human suffering has transformative potential. There is the theology of love, in which love is the central purpose to human life. So, you see ‘theology’ is another word for the study of meaning, beliefs and identity experienced at the deepest level of human living.

In the month of December, there is an abundance of theological celebration, as we celebrate Christian, Jewish and Pagan holy days; and we’ll touch on the theologies of suffering and joy and humour.  I hope you will enjoy this ‘theologically alive’ month.

I wish for you the deep peace that moves through all life. May the deep peace rise to meet you, where you are and as you are. May you feel it, relax into it, revel in it.

With love and warmth to you, as we move into the last month of 2020.
Rev. Debra Thorne

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

Sunday, December 6
What Holds You? The Heart of Theology
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne 

What do you name the invisible arms that hold you in the dark night and in the bright of day?  What do you trust with your heart, your prayers, your secrets?  What is the thought, the feeling, the knowing, that you lean into when the world shivers and shakes under you?  What holds you?  

Sunday, December 13
The Breaking Time - A Theology of Suffering 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

What meaning can we draw from the times when we fall to our knees, cut the mooring, or walk alone in the desert?  How do we understand the tumble of grief, and the sinking of hope?  It is one thing to experience suffering and another to see it as a spiritual journey that breaks us open into new perspectives, even new freedom.  

Sunday, December 20
The Light on Offer: Reflections on Winter Solstice   
Presented by Leah Hokanson

John O'Donohue wrote: "The light on offer is enough only to guide the next step." As we move across the threshold of Winter Solstice, we recognize the light on offer can come in many forms: It can be a light of connection, of a simple kindness, of an insight, of a serendipity. It can be a light of beauty, of a bird song, of a cloud formation, of a sweet turn of phrase. Join members of the Fabulous Fufonics for reflections in word and music as we celebrate together the returning of the light.

Leah Hokanson is a pianist, vocalist, choral director, and facilitator. She directs the Life Journey Singers, and The Song Keepers Women's Choir (Gabriola) where she lives.

Leah is FUFON's beloved Music Director and facilitates the Nanaimo Sounding Circle.

Thursday, December 24  4:30pm
Joy to the World!  A Christmas Eve Service
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne 

Join us, as you are, for a Christmas Eve Service of music and story. Come with your family, come with yourself, come to remember why we put our faith in joy. This is the joy that moves through the earth while you sleep, the joy that lightens the sky when you wake, the joy that sparkles in your heart when you least expect it. This evening we celebrate the 301st anniversary of the writing of Joy to the World.

Sunday, December 27
Mirth and Music -- 2020 Apocalypse Edition
Presented by Debbie Goodman and Tony Turner

We continue our annual tradition of music and readings to make you smile on the last Sunday morning of the year. In a year when everything really did go viral, will there be anything to laugh about? After losing Justice Ginsberg, James Bond, and Alex Trebec, is there any reason to go on? How will they get that angry guy out of the White House come January 20? Tune in and find out the answers to these and other irreverent (and irrelevant) questions. 

Debbie is a wildlife artist, story-teller, and occasional service speaker at FUFON. She  and her husband Bob have been FUFON members since their 2009 arrival on Vancouver Island. They enjoy being members of this joy-full community, and camping in the Enchanted Rainforest.

Tony Turner has been a member of First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo since 2017 but for many years has contributed to the life of First Ottawa and other Unitarian congregations through his music and other activities. He has recorded three CDs of original songs and performed at clubs, festivals and Unitarian churches across Canada, where his Circle of Song has become a favourite.  A singer with a social conscious Tony has penned songs that address political, social and environmental issues of our times, including the song Harperman in 2015, for which Tony was given an international Spirit of Folk award.
Review of Hybrid Service Planning
We are monitoring the Covid advisories and guidelines. At time of writing for the newsletter deadline, the province is under temporary restrictions which include no meetings of religious organizations. The planning for hybrid services will continue, but it is likely that they will be postponed. We will communicate the status of when the hybrid services begin through the Weekly Update. The following is overall information about the planning for the hybrid services.

Greeting Team 
Brenda Stewart is reaching out to recruit more people to the Greeting Team for the Hybrid Services.  The sign-up system for service attendance in the hall will be in effect for the first Hybrid Service.  Volunteers for the Greeting Team, will need to be onsite each Sunday. No one can be in attendance if we don’t have the needed volunteers to plan and implement this and the cleaning protocol. To volunteer contact Brenda at:

Sign-Up System for Reserving your Seat in the Hall
As soon as we can start the hybrid services, to reserve a seat, send the office an email saying that you request a seat at the next Sunday Service: (
You will receive a confirmation email, or, if there are no places available, you will receive an email that you are on the waitlist.  Do not come to the Hall unless you receive a confirmation email or telephone call. Each week, the deadline for reserving a seat is Friday at noon. 

Choir Update and Singing in Hybrid Services
Eight to ten people are meeting with Music Director, Leah Hokanson for choir practice in the hall, observing all protocols and guidelines. Those attending feel that it is safe for them and that it is worthwhile.

People attending Sunday Services in the hall, in person, will not be allowed to sing during the service. Leah will be wearing a shield and will be facing the front wall while she is singing. Others in attendance will be allowed to hum.

AV Team  
All necessary equipment has been purchased and the team is learning, including key connection and use issues associated with having multiple service participants. 
At this point we believe only one AV person is likely needed in the hall during a Hybrid Service. 

Service Organizers Team 
Rev. Debra and the Sunday Service Committee are working with the AV Team and will work with the Greeting Team, once that is active, to create a service that is pleasing to both the hall and zoom guests.

Meditation Group Resumes on Fridays from 11am – 12pm  starting December 4.

An opportunity to sit in meditation with community, either from your home or at the hall.

Sign-up is required for in hall attendance. There will be a recurring link found in the weekly update starting in December. 
Beginning Tuesday, December 8th, 4 to 6pm 
Like the Soul Matters groups, Deepening Path is an opportunity to deepen together through active listening and personal sharing. As the group deepens into trust and care, we become companions on the journey, down the inner path of wisdom. This is a group where you simply show up as you are, in body and soul. Rev. Debra will guide the journey, inspired by the monthly themes.

The group meets once a month on the second Tuesday at 4pm for 2 hours.  Limited to twelve participants.  (Dates: Dec. 8, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, May 11)

Email to reserve your place.  
Did you know you can now watch edited versions of Sunday services?


We have just begun to post video recordings of recent services on our Nanaimo Unitarians YouTube channel. Services have been edited for privacy and copyright reasons, so you won’t see the Story for all Ages or Joys and Concerns. But you will be able to view the Reflection, readings, meditation and music. So far we have three services available – Sea Slugs and Why They Matter (Oct 18), Meeting our Ancestors (Nov 1), and Love is on the Way (Nov. 8).  Links to these services are also found in the Past Services section of our website.

Feel free to share these links with friends and family and watch the service yourself if you were unable to attend. Note that we are not live streaming our services to YouTube, again for copyright and privacy reasons. 
Your Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) is looking for the help of a few individuals to help us explore what technological tools will help our Fellowship thrive through this COVID period and beyond. 

There are many possibilities for using modern tools of communication if we plan with purpose and imagination. Our adoption of Zoom services alone has propelled us to adopt hybrid services that will very likely continue on a permanent basis. Technology can enable us to more easily collaborate with other congregations and embracing social media can help us reach teens, adults and families.

If you have an interest in any aspect of technology and its use, please get in touch with Tony Turner <>.

Together let’s generate ideas and create a plan that
supports all aspects of life in our evolving Fellowship. 
Winona Baker, our longtime dear friend, passed away at Dover House 12:30 pm on September 23, 2020 at 96 years of age. She is remembered for her quick wit, sprightly mini body and ever-ready sense of humour.

Winona was born in Saskatchewan, the sixth of 8 siblings on a family farm that eventually relocated to the BC mainland. She met and married Art Baker, they settled in Nanaimo and raised four children, Donald, Doug, Steve and Helen. Winona quoted her vocations as berry picker, baby sitter, teacher, clerk, writer and reader. 

Her gifted writing passion took root when her first poem was published at age 11. She was a steady voice in English-language haiku for many years. Her writing career spanned a lifetime and has been published in books, anthologies and journals in Canada, USA, UK, New Zealand and Japan, and translated into 6 languages. 

Winona’s haiku poetry was epitomized when she won the Japanese Foreign Ministers’ Grand Prize in the World Haiku Contest, held in Yamagata, Japan in 1989. She traveled to Japan to receive the honors and mementos that subsequently decorated a wall in her home.

The haiku that won her international fame: 
Moss hung tress
A deer moves into
The hunter’s silence

By Mary Foster
There’s an exciting new project in the works for Valentine’s Day!
It’s a fundraiser for FUFON!

For the price of a nice card, one of the Fabulous Fufonics will deliver a singing telegram by phone to a loved one of yours anywhere in Canada. 

We will have a set list of songs to choose from e.g., You Are the Sunshine of My Life. 

Anyone in the greater community can purchase a telegram. Or more than one!

We’re just getting organized now. If you’re interested in helping out (even lending your voice - you don’t have to be a choir member!)   Email:
Another month of Covid’s shifting landscape in BC has brought new challenges to our Children’s Religious Exploration Program. Just as it was beginning to look as though we might find a way to navigate small, safe and socially distant meet ups for our middle school and high school youth, we’ve been shown that the Island will not escape this wave in the way we have been spared in the past.

It was perfect timing that our Fall Gathering happened last weekend. It brought a renewed hope and focus through meaningful sessions, including How to Create Meaningful Spaces online for Youth and Young Adults. So, as my planning again turns to online meet ups, I am feeling inspired to bring our young folks together in a meaningful and relevant way.

Our stories for little folks continues each week and it is a great pleasure to have a catch up, a Junior Joys and Concerns, share a story and discuss the theme as it pertains to our lives. Such a joy to see the little faces and their grownups each week.


Provincially, we Religious Educators continue to explore ways we can engage our youth, find content and presenters and begin to forge relationships between the youth of our congregations. We all know there is no up side to Covid, but we can find the opportunities available to us in this time and use technology to create spaces and make connections that we can nurture and explore together, in person, in the future.

Sibyl Birrell
Children's Religious Educator
Fireside Chat with the Shelter Executive Director
Thank you so much for having me at the town hall last month. I was grateful for your excellent questions and interest in having meaningful conversations.  Given the number of questions, I am hosting a fireside chat on November 27th.  This casual Zoom meeting will be an open opportunity to ask any burning questions you may have about homelessness in Nanaimo, how the Unitarian Shelter and other programs are supporting
people, and to get to know me a bit more.  I invite you to make a hot chocolate or your favourite hot beverage and join me for a relaxing afternoon of discussion.

When: November 27th
Time: 1pm
Where: Zoom (the FUFON zoom link)
I look forward to seeing you all there!

Sincerely, Isha Matous-Gibbs
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

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


Deadline for submissions is the 15th of the month
Next publication date: December 25th
Contact the newsletter editor at

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First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo
250.755.1215 or email us at        595 Townsite Rd. Nanaimo BC, V9S 1K9 

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