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

Sunday, January 3
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Sunday, January 10
Rising from the Ashes
Presented by Ammar Alfakosh

Sunday, January 17
Lessons From My Year of Living Spiritually  
Presented by Anne Bokma

Sunday, January 24
We Have Come To Be Danced 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Sunday, January 31
Serenity & Ferocity: Aging as Spiritual Maturity 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne
January 8                    Friday Meditation Returns               11:00am

January 12                  The Deepening Path - Monthly         4:00pm-6:00pm
What will this next year bring?
If we have learned anything this past year, it is that we are not in control. We’re familiar with change, we know that change is inevitable, we make peace with change in our daily lives, we submit to the big changes. But I think we have been holding back from really surrendering to the magnitude of change that this world is asking of us, until 2020.  
Now we have tasted change on a whole new level. 

Just maybe, 2020 was preparing us for the changes we will need to respond to in 2021. I’m thinking of the changes that our earth is asking us to make for her, and for our very existence. The training wheels are coming off (I think), and we’re going to need to keep our balance and the momentum of response going. I’m not thinking that this will be about suffering. I think it will be about what we learned this year: that we can respond, we can adapt, we can change. We can do it individually and we can do it collectively.  With this perspective, maybe 2020 wasn’t such a bad year. Maybe it was a year of incredibly useful learning.  
Whichever way 2021 leads us, I know we will embrace the challenges together, because we learnt that we truly need each other, and that together we are stronger. May we greet the new year with a joyful anticipation, come what may.  

Warmly, Debra 

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

The theme for January is Spiritual Groundedness.  In this first month of 2021 we explore some of the paths to deepen social awareness and spiritual knowledge.

Sunday, January 3
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Doorways can be shut to keep us safe, or keep others out. An open door can be an invitation to adventures both wonderful and dangerous. Janus, the Roman God of gates and doors and transitions, guards the liminal transition into the new year, and new worlds. He gave this month its’ name.   Stepping through the doorway into 2021, what do you hope to find?    

Sunday, January 10
Rising from the Ashes
Presented by Ammar Alfakosh

"On a very dark night, with a group of seven young guys, I started my journey to find my stolen freedom. In narrow rugged trails across the mountains, we walked for hours trying to pass the Syrian borders to get to Turkey. Everything seemed to be under control until we were attacked by the "Jandirma", the Turkish border guards. As they started shooting at us and released their vicious dogs after us, I found myself alone in the forest. Where did the group disappear? What should I do?"  

Ammar is a Syrian refugee who was sponsored by the FUFON community to start a new safe life in Nanaimo, BC. He is willing to share some stories of his journey with us. If you are interested in knowing what it feels like to lose everything, how a near death experience can change your perspectives in life, or even learning how Canadians have changed his life through the Canadian Private Sponsorship Program, join us in our service.

Sunday, January 17
Lessons From My Year of Living Spiritually: 
A Secular Quest for a More Soulful Life

Presented by Anne Bokma

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience,” wrote the poet Emily Dickinson. Anne shares her difficult journey of leaving a fundamentalist religion as well as insights from her whirlwind year of experimenting with two dozen spiritual practices—from singing to solitude to going to a witch camp and heading out on a pilgrimage—and how they taught her to live more attentively and authentically in the world.

All of us are on a spiritual journey yet so often we neglect this essential aspect of our lives. 

Anne Bokma is an award winning freelance journalist and the author of My Year of Living Spiritually: One Woman's Secular Quest for a More Soulful Life released by publisher Douglas & McIntyre in October 2019. She is a long-time member of the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton. Full bio here:

Sunday, January 24
We Have Come To Be Danced 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Energy flows through matter, animating the lump of clay we call our home. Our tender strong bodies are moved by breath to stretch and bounce and tap and swirl.  We are ignited by taste and smell and touch into realms of pleasure. Our creative bodies call us into lands of ecstasy.  What embodied spiritual practice moves you? What have we asked to move us?  

Sunday, January 31
Serenity & Ferocity: Aging as Spiritual Maturity 
Presented by Rev. Debra Thorne

Aging is inevitable and unpredictable. It is an act of hope and optimism, laced with fear and dread. A mystery. When did you first realize that you were aging? Was it at 10 or at 50? At every stage there are opportunities and lessons to be learned. It’s thought that the last third of life - an elder’s life - is a gateway into a deeper spiritual life.  Because whether we are graceful or raging, we pay closer attention into things that really matter. 
tl’m ch uw iyus klismus ‘i’ iyus xews sil’anum! 

(“Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” in Hul'q'umi'num,
the language of the Snuneymuxw First Nation)

To bring in the New Year, the Board offers a little seasonal fun. You can find a downloadable copy of this word search, as well as an answer key, on the FUFON website. Just follow this link: You can print out the puzzle and play. 
Happy multi-lingual New Year!

Friday Meditation Resumes January 8

Please join us on Fridays at 11am for an hour
of silent and contemplative meditation.
This is an ongoing and open group.

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: Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, May 11

Email to reserve your place.  

This month, we started our meet up for our older young folks. We have a chance to catch up and consider some of life’s big questions as well as playing a game or two. It’s great for our older youth to have a place to meet up, stay connected and share with each other.

Our Little Folks group meets weekly, and it is always a joy to see our children, their parents and grandparents. Some of our little folks have moved up to the older group, but we are still going strong, with grandchildren logging in from as far away as Calgary!

This would be the time of year when we would be working over-time getting ready for the pageant and preparing gifts or cards, but this year we will satisfy ourselves with making it through the year, keeping and even expanding our Zoom social circles, and looking forward to the positive changes to come in the next year.

Sibyl Birrell
Children's Religious Educator
Operations are running smoothly at both the Unitarian Weather Shelter and the Extreme Weather Shelter at St. Peter’s Church. The recent fire of several tents at the Wesley Street camping site displaced many people and our Outreach program has been busy assisting these folks. Carole has been providing support, supplies where possible and connecting individuals with resources in the community. Some of the displaced individuals were provided a bed at the new shelter location at St. Peter’s Church. Other people are camping at other locations in the community. Hopefully the city will step up and arrange some housing for these highly vulnerable individuals, many who have mental or physical health challenges and concurrent addictions. It is unacceptable that these individuals are left to fend for themselves on the street during the winter of a global pandemic.
A huge thank you and congratulations on a job done with a fantastic level of professionalism to Isha, Kevan, Shelter staff, Ron and the rest of the Shelter Advisory Committee organizing and implementing all the logistics of the new Extreme Weather Shelter. It was an incredible effort in a short amount of time with an excellent outcome, and represents another community effort for FUFON to be extremely proud of.

Volunteer Opportunity
The Outreach program is considering hosting a free tax clinic this year. The free tax clinic is a federal program that connects organizations, volunteers, and people who need help filing their taxes to ensure that folks with low income are able to access tax benefits like GST returns and any refunds they may be owed. The program runs on the efforts of volunteers who give their time to learn the software and file taxes for clients.  The Shelter is looking at holding 2-6 clinics over the tax season.  We are looking for 4-6 volunteers to offer their time. Volunteering involves registering and then taking a free training program offered by the CRA.  The Outreach program will then be provided with a free e-file tax program which gives access to submitted T4 and other documents related to personal taxes. Volunteers will meet with guests (in a safe way) to verify their identity and collect information. They can then gather any missing forms, complete the online tax booklet, and submit on behalf of the guest.

If anyone is interested in this short term and very interesting volunteer opportunity, please connect with Isha at before January 15, 2021.

From all of us at the shelter, wishing you a very happy holiday and a joyous and peaceful upcoming year!

Debra Librock
Chairperson, Unitarian Weather Shelter
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

Barbara Hourston  1933-2020

Barbara and Al Hourston joined our fellowship soon after its formation in 1960 and their children attended our Sunday school. 

At our fellowship, Barb helped organize Sunday speakers and was a speaker herself (one notable service on the benefits of eating locally). She engaged with our young people on walks and picnics, and Sunday classes. A highlight of the Christmas season was the fellowship Christmas potluck at the Hourston’s beautiful waterfront home. 

Barb was also active in the larger community. For example, she mentored the establishment of the Planned Parenthood Association which our fellowship financially helped support with a book sale for several years.  

In the 1990’s Barbara actively worked to protect Linley Valley. Recognizing the need to protect more areas, she researched and advocated for the placing of lands in a Land Trust. Her ground breaking efforts are well described on the Nanaimo Area Land Trust website.

We Unitarians speak of “living our principles” and Barbara Hourston did just that. She diligently worked to protect the environment around her. We remember her warm smile and twinkling eyes in conversation. An enthusiastic bridge player, folk dancer and cyclist she honoured her own life by living it well. Friend and founding executive director of Nanaimo Area Land Trust, Gail Adrienne wrote this description: “Barbara was a steadfast happy warrior for the environment and a champion for our community.” Barb was also a well respected, valued member and friend of our fellowship community. 

Martha Cosco/Debbie Keith/Sam Cosco

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: January 29th
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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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