Can you feel the excitement vibrating through our province as we begin to believe that we are nearing the end of the pandemic restrictions?  We are now able to meet socially outdoors and to see family and friends again. It will be, and needs to be, a cautious excitement, because one thing that we have learned is that we cannot make predictions about our collective future. I am hopeful that we are moving steadily forward with our reopening. 

Which leads me to next year. The meta theme for the Sunday Services next year is “ReOpening”. This theme will touch on all aspects of our lives, from social activism to theological to the personal. And ReOpening will be explored through the lens of the creative arts. It is my plan and hope that our ReOpening will be one that is full of celebration.

At this moment in time, there is a wave of loss cresting through the community because of the resignation of three staff and a beloved members’ sudden death. In terms of the staff resignations, both Ruth Anderson (Board Chair) and I believe that change is opportunity. If most of us can embrace this point of view, then we are holding the centre for those among us who are rocked particularly hard by the losses. 

We are taking a risk this summer, not having Sunday services, but I think it is worth the risk so that everyone, which includes you and all the generous volunteers who keep the Fellowship afloat, have an opportunity to put down the responsibilities and rest. We will all return then, with refreshed energy for the new year. 

Thank you to Anne Morrison for agreeing to be the Pastoral Emergency contact for July. I will take that position back on August 3rd.  Anne and I will confer if an emergency comes up in July.  

During the first two weeks in August, I will be preparing for the fall. I am not meeting with committees except for the Covid Advisory Task Force and the Sunday Services Committee, in order to prepare our communications for the September newsletter that is due on August 15th.   

I am really excited about next year. Not only for the wonder of being back together in the building, but also being able to share all the wonderful Sunday Services and social/spiritual programming with those who connect through technology. The pandemic has proved to us that we can learn and grow. I’m also looking forward to tapping into the creative juices of the congregation next year.  We are so much more than we imagine we are. Our future so much more than we can know at this moment. 

I trust that you will take this summer to renew your connections with family, neighbours and friends. Take in as much pleasure from the simple things in life as you can.  Stay grounded. Stay connected. 
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
A Summer Bouquet of Sunday Services

This summer you are invited to explore worship at many Unitarian congregations across the country. Between June 27th and September 5th, Nanaimo Unitarians can join any number of UU congregations’ Sunday Services. Below are some links, but you can also find others on your own. Not all congregations hold services in the summer, particularly smaller ones take a summer hiatus, but the congregations listed below are larger.
The Sunday Service Committee and the AV Team thank you for your understanding, and to serve you better next year, they are taking time to renew and refresh themselves this summer. The first Sunday Service for Nanaimo Unitarians will be September 12th at 11am. 
We hope you enjoy this adventure into other congregations, you make new UU friends, and will bring back stories and insights to share.   

In British Columbia

Vancouver Unitarians worship service begins at 11am PST. 
The services are available for a week on their 
youtube channel. 
Their livestream link is: 
Northshore Unitarians Sunday services begin at 10:30am PST.
Join them on their YouTube channel a few minutes earlier for the prelude.
In Alberta

Edmonton Unitarians meet on Sundays at 10:30am (9:30am PST).
Their YouTube channel is:

Calgary Unitarians meet at 10:30am (9:30am PST).
There is social time before and after the service.
This link for their webpage will provide the service Zoom links.
In Ontario

Toronto First Unitarians worship at 10:30am (7:30am PST).
Connecting information is here:  
Their YouTube channel is:
Ottawa Unitarians worship service begins at 10:30am (7:30am PST).
The link is on this page:  
They also have a YouTube station with past services:


At FUFON we create spiritual connection and
bring compassion, discovery and social justice to life.
Board Goals 2020-21
In September 2020, your Board chose five goals for the church year, keeping in mind current conditions and the needs and wishes expressed by our members and friends.

1. Policy Development
The Board has exceeded this goal by approving twelve policies, eleven mandates and two handbooks, including mandates for new committees, such as the Technology Management Committee. Policy Coordinator and Archivist, Sharon Reeves, has been the driving force behind this effort working with committees to update policies and mandates.
To access the policies and mandates on the Website, go to:, About, Governance, Documents, then to either Approved Policies or Committees and Task Forces.

In  Approved Policies, open the Index of Policies by Committee where you’ll see the name of the committee that developed it to the left, and to the right, you’ll find a link that will take you directly to the policy itself.

2. Strategic Planning
The Strategic Plan - Reaching for the Sky, was officially accepted by the Board with many thanks to the authors, Ruth Anderson, Wiley Fargen, Tony Turner and Debbie Goodman. In consultation with the Fellowship, the plan was completed for presentation to the May Town Hall, and was accepted at the General Meeting on June 13, 2021. A monumental job well done. The board is committed to begin implementing year one of the plan.

3. Transition from Financial Officer to an Accountant
Most of the heavy lifting on this goal has been done by Marla Thorburn, as she and Lise Smith, our Office Administrator, have managed the transition from having a Financial Officer to working with an accounting firm.
The Board gratefully acknowledges the extra work for Board reporting Marla and Don Gayton have done, as the new accounting program, QuickBooks, does not categorize everything the way we are used to seeing it.
Acting in many ways as a volunteer treasurer, Marla has been our liaison to the accountant, and has solved many a financial puzzle this year, as she also mentored Lise on QuickBooks. There was a steep learning curve, and much added responsibility for Lise, as she took on dealing with the payroll for the Fellowship and Shelter employees.
Quickbooks gives us online access to our accounts, and has made it possible for us to offer our staff a direct deposit option.
The Joint Finance Committee, under the leadership of co-chairs, Marla and Don, currently administers a budget of about a million dollars for the Fellowship, Foundation and the Unitarian Shelter.
Don Gayton, who will be standing for treasurer in 2021-22, prepared our budgets for the coming church year

4. Manage FUFON’S COVID-19 Response

A COVID Advisory Task Force was struck to determine what needed to be done to maximize the number of congregants who wish to take part in our Fellowship activities in respect to COVID 19, at the same time, adhering to the protocols of the BC CDC.
Under the leadership of Rev. Debra, an extensive telephone survey was conducted to strengthen connections within the Fellowship and a team of ‘Connection Callers’ continues to keep in touch with congregants.
Rev. Debra, with the assistance of the Connection Callers, provides the pastoral care and support, particularly meaningful to our people not connected by online activities during this time.
Please see our COVID update in this newsletter.

5. Human Resources Review

A HR Task Force was struck to review policies, procedures, forms, the Employee Handbook of the Personnel Committee, and revamp its structure. On the recommendation of the task force, a new Human Resources Committee is composed of the four Board-Staff Liaisons, Sharon Reeves, Ron Wilson, Brenda Stewart and Ruth Anderson.
The HR Committee with Rev. Debra’s involvement, will oversee annual staff reviews, the hiring of new staff, when necessary, and will strengthen board-staff relations at the Fellowship and the Shelter
Our Aspirations For the Fall Under COVID

Your COVID Advisory Task Force continues to monitor the BC Health Advisories, and will contemplate changes in our practices accordingly.

Our hope is that there are no more Covid surges, and the Province continues to relax the restrictions, making  activities at the Fellowship possible. 

The Sunday Services Committee, the Technology Management Committee and volunteers are taking some well deserved time off during the summer. The Covid Advisory Task Force will meet in early September and will review what might be possible in the fall.

We need a four week lead time to plan and put hybrid services in place, and we are hoping for early October to hold our first service. All September services, large meetings such as the AGM, September 19, will be online by Zoom. 

The decision as to how the October Town Hall will be held will be made in September.
Summer Contact and Office Schedule 

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

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 messages 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. 
The Joint Building Committee is looking for one or two new members.

Please consider seizing the opportunity to serve on this vital committee and support our ongoing property needs. 

If interested, contact Katherine Ball at
Gratitude From Leah

Dear Beloved FUFON Community,

I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of generosity, kindness and love I've experienced from you these past weeks. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will treasure my time with you always.

Below is a recording of In Love which, as you know, has been our Joys and Concerns response this past year. Debra invited me to write this chant. The words reflect my experience at FUFON over the past 12 years: sharing, listening, holding, witnessing, learning and growing with one another, in Love.

I offer this recording with my deepest thanks, and with love to all.
Go By Bike Week May 31 to June 6, 2021

During the Environmental Task Force’s alternative transport months, six intrepid riders managed to get out on their bikes, and log their sweat and tears with the Go By Bike promotion. 

Don Gayton, Bob Nation, Frances Deverell, Brenda Stewart, Debbie Keith and Brian Short managed to log some 741 kms over 72 rides, burning up a whopping 22000 kCal. Not bad for a bunch of youth-challenged folk. 

The  random draw revealed that Don Gayton is the lucky winner of the Delicado’s Gift Certificate.

Congratulations to all the riders for getting out there, and doing a bit more for the environment and your health.
Thank you to everyone for supporting the Children’s Religious Education program this year. It has been a wonderful experience to share this time with the resilient and creative children of the congregation, their families, and  all those who listened to the stories read on behalf of the children’s program each week during service.

As we wrap up for the summer, we continued weekly meet ups until the last week of the church year, giving us a chance to say goodbye, not just for the summer, but in my case, marking the end of my time with the children in my capacity as their educator. 

Thank you for everything. I feel so fortunate that I met you all and had a chance to work at FUFON.
Love, Sibyl

Sibyl Birrell
Children's Religious Educator
Executive Director Change
It is with mixed feelings, as with any change, that I leave the Nanaimo Unitarian Shelter to pursue full-time work in my new career. I have truly appreciated the experience of working with you and your programs.

The Shelter program is something to be very proud of. You have created valuable and needed support for the people of Nanaimo, and demonstrated that acting with compassion, non-judgment, and hope is able to make a difference.

I wish all of you the very best and look forward to meeting again in some other capacity.

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: August 27th
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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