Please join us via live stream at 11:00am or as noted
Details are below including our Zoom service link.

Sunday, June 6
Reclaiming Brokenness: Finding Ground in Challenging Times
Presented by Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet 

Sunday, June 13
Where Everything is Music  
Presented by Rev Debra Thorne and Leah Hokanson 

Sunday, June 20
Summer Blessings - a Flower Communion 

Presented by Rev Debra Thorne

This is the last Sunday service, before the summer break. 
June 13        General Meeting           1pm (after the service)

June 19        Celebration of Leah      7pm
Greetings Beloveds! We are arriving at the end of an extraordinary church year.  A year like no other; filled with the challenges of truth, of connection and of deep listening. We have struggled to find truth in the public sphere and in ourselves. We have felt the longing of not being able to be physically close to our families and our community family. We have begun to hear under the absent din of modern life, a gentler wisdom of a simpler and more connected way of living. 

We have succeeded in surprising ways. We moved our whole religious community online. We did not falter, though the learning curve and the work was significant. We have met new friends in break-out rooms; surmounted resistance to technology; discovering new ways to be together.

Starhawk writes: Community means strength that joins with our strength, to do the work that needs to be done. I find that statement enormously true when I look back over this past year at all that we have learnt together, and have accomplished together. 

Not the least of which is the exciting national conversation of a new 8th Principle.  Along with FUFON’s CUC Delegates Sharon Reeves and Wiley Fargen, I will be speaking on this at the May 31st service. The proposed 8th Principle addresses Unitarian Universalism’s commitment to dismantling racism in our congregations and in our selves, and other oppressions. The idea of an 8th Principle grew out of 15 years of ground-breaking congregational work by Paula Jones. She realized that a person can believe they are being a “good UU” and following the 7 Principles without thinking about or dealing with racism and other oppressions at the systemic level. ( The 8th Principle was suggested in order to address the brokenness of oppressions in our congregations that prevent everyone from being welcome, equal and belonging. There will be opportunities to learn more about the 8th Principle in June. 

And we aren’t done with change yet! Besides the ups and downs of the pandemic, the FUFON congregation will continue to respond to change. As you have, by now heard, there is a search on for a new Executive Director of the Unitarian Shelter, we are very sad to say good bye to Isha Matous-Gibbs, who was the Shelter ED for only a year. Isha left a significant mark, especially in bringing the Fellowship closer to the Shelter. Her work was made so much more difficult by pandemic restrictions, which began the month she started. I can tell you that Isha has been a gift to us this last year. We wish her many blessings and joy in her new job.

And we aren’t done with change yet! Our beloved Leah Hokanson, FUFON’s Music Director, is stretching her wings and flying off to explore an exciting new direction in her work. I humbly welcome the grief I am feeling for my loss of a very special colleague. If our connection were not so precious to me, I’d be feeling less. I remind each of you that the grief and the loss you feel, is in relation to the love you have for Leah. It is a reflection of the depth of the bond of your connection. Honour this connection. Honour the time you have shared with her, and honour her choice to take her next step. Later in this newsletter, there is an announcement of a celebration in her honour on June 19th. Details will be shared with you as it comes together. 

Warmly, Rev Debra

Rev Debra Thorne 
Hiiye’yutul tst ‘u to’ mukw stem ‘I ‘u tuna’ muka
Everything in nature is part of our family; we are all family

It is with sadness I share with you, that long time FUFON member, for many decades one of the pillars of this Fellowship, Sam Cosco, died very suddenly of a heart attack on May 19.

Sam has been a member of the FUFON community since October 1981 when he and his beloved wife, Martha, joined the Fellowship. Their family grew soon after, and their daughter, Sarah, and son, Robert, participated in and contributed to all aspects of Fellowship life.

Sam was instrumental from the very beginning, serving on the Board, and being one of the leaders who acquired the current building. He has been on the Building Committee since then, ensuring that the structure was well maintained and that all contracts, inspections and paperwork were up to date. He had a good head for financial details serving as Treasurer and later, Chair of the Finance Committee.

Many of you will have special memories. Mary Foster spent many trips and holidays in the company of Sam and Martha, and remembers Sam as ‘a remarkable being: kind, faithful to friends and family, intelligent, always available for talks or help or advice, always some idea perking in his head and loving to share it, a gentle soul...sometimes a kid in men's jeans! Especially when we played board games!   Lovely, lovely man.’  

Bill Hedges remembers Sam, the late John Cochrane, Chris Bolt and Buzz Hollings (ruefully self-named ‘The Buzzards’) meeting weekly for wide ranging conversations, strong opinions and good friendship. You may remember that Sam's ‘spot’ in the Hall was always next to whoever was running the sound system. Sam had himself installed the T-loop system, so that those with hearing aids could hear more effectively.

You may be remembering his wonderful humour, his extensive knowledge of wine making, or the delightful fundraising croquet afternoons that he and Martha hosted in their back yard.  He would want us to be smiling through our tears as we remember the good times he was so good at creating.

Sam’s death creates an empty space in our community.  We are going to miss Sam Cosco very much.

With warm remembrance, Rev Debra Thorne

If you would like a pastoral conversation with me, you can email, or call my office number 250-591-0410.
 The theme for June is Spiritually Grounded:
We seek transformation through personal spiritual experiences and shared ritual
To join any of our upcoming services on Zoom,
please click on this 
SERVICE LINK a few minutes before the service


Sunday, June 6, 2021
Reclaiming Brokenness: Finding Ground in Challenging Times
Presented by Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet 

Today we welcome Westwood Unitarian Congregation’s Director of Religious Education, Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet, as they explore some of their experiences living with a lifelong disability. Having also been a caretaker and advocate for many years, Ilara brings her passion, concern and a unique perspective to the topic.  

Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet is a visual artist, poet, and story teller. They are a lifelong UU, even before they knew it! They have spent their years advocating for people with disabilities, Inter-faith initia-tives, LGBTQ2S+ humans, and following synchronicity to wherever it guides them. Ilara loves gardening, anything crafty, and being a student of life.
Sunday, June 13
Where Everything is Music  
Presented by Rev Debra Thorne and Leah Hokanson 

If life flows on in endless song, like a river of music, then what moves us to let go and trust the ‘what is’ of our lives?  What allows us to accept that whatever flows through our lives, whether that is a beautiful harmony or painful dissonance, is simply just perfect? It’s entirely music, in all its variety, playing in and through our lives.  Like spirit, music can hold us, moves us, crack our hearts and heal us.  Music is life!   

The FUFON General Meeting follows the service.

Sunday, June 20
Summer Blessings - a Flower Communion 

Presented by Rev Debra Thorne

Each year when we celebrate the ending of another Fellowship year, we offer a Flower Communion, a uniquely Unitarian ritual. It began in Prague on June 4,1923 by Rev Norbert Capek, founder of the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He identified a need to unite the diverse congregants of his church with a symbolic ritual, without alienating those who had left other traditions. The flower communion honours the universal beauty of nature and inspires the spiritual power of love, beauty and peace.   

This year we ask that you send in pictures of flowers that are especially meaningful to you. They can be flowers from your living room, flowers from your garden, from your neighbourhood, or off the internet.

Please send them to with a short description of their meaning to you, by June 16th.

This is the last Sunday service, before the summer break. 
Look for the Summer Newsletter (July & August) for summer updates. 
In preparation for the Coordinating Council Meeting, the Board was asked:
What have been your challenges and successes in the past year?

Here are the answers taken to the Council Meeting by Board Chair, Ruth Anderson: 

  • Much time was required and given by all Board members.
  • We held everything together through COVID as we met by Zoom, by email and telephone. 
  • We have been nimble and flexible in dealing with routine business as well as adapting to new and unexpected circumstances such as finding our way after the retirement of our Financial Officer. 
  • We practiced shared leadership effectively, rotating chairing of meetings and liaising with the many FUFON committees.
  • We developed policies and mandates with several committees, information has been downloaded to Google, and is more complete and accessible. 
We are looking forward to seeing many of you at our General Meeting on
June 13th at 1:00pm, after the Sunday Service.


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

Rev Debra Thorne will be away through July. Her last day is June 27th and her first day back is August 3rd. 

Office Schedule: Our office administrator, Lise Smith, will not keep office hours through July and part of August.  Phone messages and mail will be checked and collected weekly. Email message will be checked daily.  Lise’s last day is June 29 and her first day back is August 17. 

The Connection Callers will be continuing to reach out to the friends and members of the fellowship through the summer. If you know of someone who would like a friendly call, please leave a message at the office.  

If you have a pastoral emergency, please call Anne Morrison in July, and Rev Debra in August. 
How Climate Advocacy Works
A member of our Environmental Justice team recently had a win. The Terminal Park Bulk Barn had a reusable container program which reduced plastic use. This was stopped due to Covid, but back in February, most other stores were opening up more. 
Our member wrote a letter supporting Bulk Barn to restart the program. Bulk Barn replied with their concerns, then our member wrote again encouraging a review. In April, the Terminal Park Bulk Barn reinstated their reusable container program as a pilot project. You can once again take clean glass or plastic containers or mesh bags to shop in their store. 
Our member doesn’t know if their letter made a difference, but that is often the effect of advocacy. Writing letters & making phone calls doesn’t change things overnight, but chips away at resistance to change. I am reminded of a Gretzky quote “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” or restated, if you don’t make that phone call, write that letter or take that action, you can be sure you have not affected change. Advocacy is slow but effective. 
Here is the link to our advocacy page where you can assist the movement for a better climate. 

By Brian Short

Policing Plastic
Hello everyone, the Environmental Task Force (EJTF) is now asking you to add thoughts of reducing the amount of plastic in your environment to the efforts you are already undertaking in the area of alternate transportation.  

What does this have to do with our carbon footprint you might ask? Conventional plastics (petroleum-based polymers) are the third most commonly used petroleum derivative in the world. Their effect on the environment is disastrous. Most of you probably know that plastic disintegrates into minute toxic particles that are taken up by plants and animals. A good reference is the  4 minute video on YouTube “The Story of Plastic - animated.” You can
watch it by clicking here.

Over the next week, observe what you do with the plastic that comes into your home.

First, do you remember to take your reusable grocery bag to the store. It’s easy for ME now, as I live within walking distance of a grocery store and I take my backpack. Some stores offer biodegradable bags.


a)  What do you re-use (e.g. yogurt containers to store things in)?

b) Do you put all you can (rinsed) out in the city recycling bins and not in the garbage?

c)  What about soft plastic? Can’t put it in the city recycling but you CAN take plastic grocery bags to London Drugs and Save On etc. Did you know that? Also, the recycling plant on Kenworth Road takes all soft plastic (and styrofoam) - but not plastic wrap. Is it difficult for you to get there? If some of our EJTF members offered to come by once a month or so to collect your soft plastic, would you welcome that service? If so, contact me, Brenda Stewart: (phone: 250.619.3679 or email:                      or

d) You could also take a bag when you go for a walk and pick up the plastic garbage on the ground (dollar stores have “picker uppers” that mean you don’t have to bend down or touch anything).

Here’s to a plastic free environment 🍷
Brenda Stewart, Plastics ‘Champion’ for EJTF
This month has certainly marked the turn of the season, and that change is reflected in the activities and interests of the children in our congregation. I’m sure we all hope that this summer offers them better opportunities for socializing and exploring than last year.

We continue to meet online every week, the young folks group is going strong, while the little folks group has hit some bumps as children’s schedules and parent’s busy lives have meant we are experimenting with a different time and day to see if it helps.

But, in the end, we are coming into the part of the year where family's lives get very busy, especially for young people, with hopefully a better offer of real, in person interaction with some time outside, and some physical activity will win the day!

We will continue to hold our meet-ups each week until our summer break.

Sibyl Birrell
Children's Religious Educator
Life goes on at the Unitarian Shelter and Shower program with steady numbers and satisfied guests. We are sorry to inform that Isha Mateous-Gibbs is stepping down as Executive Director for the Shelter. Her dedication, hard work and cheery face on Zoom for advisory meetings will be missed! The Shelter committee wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavours, and thanks her for ‘carrying the torch’ for the Shelter for the time that she did.

The search is once again on for a new ED, and the hiring committee has interviews lined up. Hopefully in next month’s article, we will be able to introduce our next Executive Director. The successful candidate will be working with Isha in a transitory period to learn the ropes.

Our Shelter coordinator, Kevan Griffith, has been ill, but we are happy to report that he is on the mend. If you see him around, I'm sure he would appreciate well wishes! Thanks to lead hand, Dean, for stepping in to run the shelter in Kevan’s absence.

The Unitarian Church of Victoria has planned to have the Nanaimo Unitarian Shelter be the recipient for their pass the plate donations over the summer. It is great to have them think of the Shelter, and dedicate funds to their neighbour organization. 

In other good news, Reverend Debra has offered to provide pastoral services to our Shelter staff upon request. The Shelter worker's job can be very challenging, and vicarious trauma (feeling the effects of continually witnessing others in trauma) can be as damaging as experiencing trauma first hand. This service will be very appreciated by our Shelter workers as an option for assistance when going through difficult times. 

It is becoming more possible to welcome volunteers back into the Shelter.
If anyone is interested in spending some time with Shelter guests and helping out, please talk to Kevan. 

Debra Librock
Unitarian Shelter Advisory Committee Chair
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: June 25th
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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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