Our January theme is Music and the Art of Discernment,
and we have some exciting offerings for you to celebrate the new year.  
There will be local friends and international musicians to listen and learn from. 

January services are available in-person, depending on Covid restrictions,
 and on Zoom via live stream at 11:00am

Details are below including our Zoom service link

Sunday, January 2
Song of Believing: A Service of Music and the Spoken Word
Presented by Patrick Courtin and Deborah Goodman 

Sunday, January 9
The Pause Between Notes 
Presented by Rev Debra Thorne 

Sunday, January 16
East Meets West 

Presented by Ben Zhao and Patrick Courtin

Sunday, January 23
Diversity in Indigenous Music 
Presented by Rev Debra Thorne

Sunday, January 30
Discernment in Music 
Presented by Sue Averill
January 16th     East Meets West - A One Act Concert        
Presenting Ben Zhao with our own Patrick Courtin     ~12pm after the Sunday Service
Surprised by Joy
Joy is not something to expect. I don’t believe that we can manufacture joy, no matter how many joyful songs we sing or birthday candles we blow out. Like the mystical ‘grace’, it expands in our hearts, like the drop of rain on a still lake, gently, thoroughly, filling us. Joy can be quiet and powerful like a sunset changing colours. It can be unexpectedly intense like a sudden deluge of rain. When joy blooms or explodes through us, our lives are changed. We see the world differently. We feel ourselves differently. It changes the thoughts in our minds. It rewrites history. 
Joy is a holy mystery that we all need to respect more than take for granted. Joy is untameable. Coming and going as it chooses. And if it chooses you, then run, run with joy; abandon yourself to joy. Play with joy. 

As the year comes to a close, and the deep darkness of days finds its end, may each of you, and everyone you know, be blessed with a flood of joy.   

Warmly, Rev Debra Thorne

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

                     OUR MISSION STATEMENT

         At FUFON we create spiritual connection and bring compassion, 
                                  discovery and social justice to life.
January theme is Music and the Art of Discernment
To join any of our upcoming services on Zoom,
please click on this 
SERVICE LINK a few minutes before the service
Sunday, January 2
Song of Believing: A Service of Music and the Spoken Word 
Presented by Patrick Courtin and Deborah Goodman 

For over a decade, our congregation has marked the end of the holiday season with a 'Mirth and Music Service' that departs from our standard Sunday format, and offers listeners an hour to 'decompress from holiday stress.' Our theme is drawn from the words of award-winning Oregon writer Brian Doyle, who wrote  'I sing a song of things that make us grin and bow, that, just for an instant, let us see sometimes the web and weave of merciful, the endless possible, the incomprehensible inexhaustible inexplicable yes.'

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.

Patrick Courtin is FUFON's musical director. Based on Vancouver Island, Patrick is a classically trained professional musician with a Bachelor's degree in jazz studies.
He is a sought-after pianist, multi-instrumentalist, international touring musician, composer, arranger, and music teacher. 

Sunday, January 9
The Rest Between Notes 
Presented by Rev Debra Thorne 

As we begin another planetary circle around the sun, there is something we need to add to our list of new year resolutions. Our lives have become so very busy and stressed. It seems as if time is speeding up, and the more we do to catch up, the less we are able. This year, we need to try something entirely different to reclaim time and ourselves. We need to find the pause. The rest in a phrase of music; without silence, there would be no music at all.

Sunday, January 16
East Meets West 

Presented by Ben Zhao & Patrick Courtin

The First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo is delighted to present Ben Zhao: musician extraordinaire and master of traditional Chinese musical instruments. FUFON's Musical Director, Patrick Courtin, met Zhao while they were both historical interpreters at Barkerville Historic Town, and had the opportunity to collaborate musically. Zhao will speak about Chinese musical history and culture, and perform a variety of traditional music on several different instruments. He will be accompanied by Courtin on the piano.

A short one-act concert of Chinese and western music by Ben Zhao and Patrick Courtin will follow in the afternoon, after the service.

Patrick Courtin's bio is above with our January 2nd service.
Ben Zhao, originally from Beijing and now living in Vancouver, is a retired professional musician and teacher, veteran of international performances and guest lecturing tours and master of 9 different traditional Chinese musical instruments. 

Barkerville created this video about Ben - see it here:

Sunday, January 23
Diversity in Indigenous Music 
Presented by Rev Debra Thorne

From rock to opera, Indigenous musicians are much more than Pow Wow Music. In this service, we’ll learn about two diverse Indigenous musicians.

Buffy Saint Marie, a Cree from the Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan, has spent 60 years singing and writing on subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism.

At 80, she can still rock the house in heels and leather.  

Jeremy Dutcher.

At 31, Jeremy Dutcher is a two-spirit Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. His haunting music is part ceremonial, part theatrical and part anthropological.

Sunday, January 30
Discernment in Music 
Presented by Sue Averill

Continuing on the theme of discernment in the various arts, Sue Averill will be presenting a talk on how discernment is reflected in the folk music that she has been doing for many years. Folk music has eluded definition, but it does arise from the human psyche, and from the daily lives of people. It is an authentic mirror for the culture, and contains the truths that are revealed through the oral process of transmission and performance. Of course, Sue will be performing some of the folk songs that demonstrate the points she will be making, and encourages singing along with the songs familiar to the audience. 

Sue has been involved with folk music performing, studying and learning since 1964, when she picked up her first guitar. As a child, she also sang a lot of the old folk songs. She has been involved over the years with a whole body of remarkable other folk musicians, and learned from them. "I’m humbled to have been involved with these amazing people who continue to love and perform this music even now”, she says, “and I see my job is to pass the music on to others, particularly young people, who would otherwise never hear or know the context of these songs”. Sue is a former Nanaimo music teacher, plays guitar and mountain dulcimer, and considers her music a deeply spiritual exercise.
On Saturday, November 27th, the delegates from Unitarian congregations across the country voted to approve an eighth Principle, specifically 
“We the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council,
covenant to affirm and promote:
Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and
systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions

95% of 104 delegates at the Special Meeting voted in favour of the motion. Within our own congregation, a survey sent out showed a two-thirds majority of respondents favoured acceptance of the Eighth Principle as stated, and nearly all supported the work of anti-racism.  

Given our current work with reopening, maintaining the Unitarian Shelter, and engaging in environmental justice work, do we have the time and energy to begin anti-racism work? Anti-racism and undoing systemic barriers that have built up over centuries is not a short-term project. It is a long-term commitment to looking at things differently, letting knowledge of it seep into all we do.

While this is not the time to start offering major workshops and educational opportunities, (although we should be thinking of those as we plan for next year), we might start the process with something as simple as having each committee add to their agenda the question “Let’s look at our work from an anti-racist perspective?”  

If you are anxious to get on with anti-racism work faster, then your first action should be to contact any member of the Board with your interest. The Board can arrange space and resources for interested members and friends to meet and provide other organizing assistance.  

For more information, see Getting Started on Anti-Racism Work on the website.

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
The Greening Tree Project - How it Works
The Greening Tree project starts this month and runs for a year. The complete description, motivation and purpose is on our website, but here is the “quick start guide”.  

Krista and the Children’s Youth Group are building a cardboard leafless tree which will be mounted in the hall. The tree’s leaves will come from you. Each week we will pause in our Sunday Service, to provide a chance for you to tell your story about what you have done recently (since September 2021) to make the world greener.

We have zillions of choices, and sometimes that can be intimidating, so no judgements, whatever you think you can do to help build our tree will count. The tree is big enough for many stories, so more than one each is welcome.  

No matter your age, income, ability or availability, we can all do a bit more to help avert the climate crisis. We have plenty of ideas on the website, but feel free to phone anyone on the Environmental Justice Committee for ideas; they are valiant champions of the following areas:


Personal Consumption Action Plan for January -
Reduce Household Waste

It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, and here’s one the Environmental Justice Committee would like us all to make: reduce your household waste as part of your personal climate action plan.

The best gift for the planet would be to cut back on our individual consumption, and only buy what we truly need, not want. That’s difficult in a society that constantly urges us to buy more. So how do we do that? 

To find out more, click on this link, which will take you to my article on our website.

Make reducing your waste a New Year’s resolution along with reducing your waist!

Kathryn Hazel, Environmental Justice Committee 
It seems to me as if there are so many more homeless folks on the street these days, and I wonder when it all really began. I don't remember seeing evidence of homeless people when I was a kid, and I'm sure I would have noticed it. According to the document, “The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016” by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, large scale homelessness surfaced in the 1980’s following a lack of investment into affordable housing, shifts in the economy, and a downturn in spending on social supports by levels of government.

According to the Alliance, approximately 35,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night and at least 235,000 Canadians have experienced homelessness in a year. These are 2016 statistics; without a doubt, numbers are far more elevated currently. Additionally, these estimates do not consider the many people who are unhoused that live with relatives or friends, and do not come into contact with shelters. Statistics like this make me feel like there is a rock in my stomach, as it seems so overwhelming and out of control. 

How do we fix this problem so that all citizens can feel safe, warm and secure in a dwelling of their own? The Alliance estimates that if the per capital investment was raised from $73.00 to $123.00 dollars annually (an additional dollar a week per Canadian), then everyone could be properly housed. Everyone I know would gladly hand the government the money up front if they knew the powers that be intended to carry this out and could be trusted to do so. The Federal government could begin getting its ducks in a row by adopting a national goal of ending homelessness with measurable outcomes, milestones and criteria. The next step would be to invest the dollars and do the work. This investment would pay itself out immediately with the reduction of hospital stays, emergency services and other social costs that homelessness incurs. Canadians could also feel the pride of walking our talk and demonstrating compassion, kindness and decency to those among us who need help.

I hope this day will come soon. In the meantime, let’s continue to let government know that this issue cannot be swept under the carpet. Let’s continue to do what we can locally. Thanks to all that gave socks and made donations to the Shelter. Our little Shelter is making a difference for many individuals in our community. May 2022 be the year that unhoused Canadians are blessed with a home.

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



Deadline for submissions is the 15th of the month
Next publication date: January 27th
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