Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Crossing Borders 1–Travel to UU Ministers’ Convo in Ottawa

I flew to Burlington, Vermont, stayed overnight with friend Abigail in her big old house in the country (well, a block from the town green, but there are fewer than 1,000 souls there, in a town I never heard of, even though it’s named after one of Ethan Allen’s brothers).  No heat upstairs but Frisky sat on the bed waiting for me.  Though allergic, I let him stay as long as he would.

The sky was clear and sun bright Wednesday as we drove to Ottawa in her minivan.  We passed the midpoint between the North Pole and the Equator–I had no idea; it felt as if we were 3/4 of the way to the North Pole already.  We drove through the countryside of Quebec, stopped in the neighborhood of Old Montreal for lunch at an upscale Polish restaurant (bypassing the upscale Indian and Thai restaurants), plodded along the city’s streets and freeway and headed into the sunset to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, just across the border from Quebec.

At the border crossing from Vermont into Canada, Abigail  handed over our passports and answered the guard’s questions:  Going to Ottawa, going to a conference,  coming back in five days.  I wanted him to say Welcome to Canada, but he didn’t.  His dark suit had a lovely lapel pin, a deep-red poppy, which we would see on many people, as it was Nov. 11, Remembrance Day, in Canada.  (Veterans’ Day in the US; which meant we couldn’t get money changed at a bank before leaving.)

I read later in the Globe and Mail newspaper that there Canadians have had a resurgence in attention to this holiday, perhaps due to the involvement of Canadian service members in Afghanistan.  Lots more people attend Remembrance Day ceremonies now.  At 11:11 AM (on 11/11) Canadians observe a full minute of silence whatever they are doing; there is a move to make this two minutes of silence now.  That’s what it used to be, till interest waned in Remembrance Day observances!

In other news, the Conservative government has revised the booklet that immigrants have to study to include more history about Canadian and First Nations encounters, tensions over the relationship of its French-speaking province to the national government, and the Queen of England (who is still the Queen of the Dominion of Canada).  The book also says more about the peacekeeping roles played by the Canadian military in recent history.  (I didn’t realize that Canada was in the Korean conflict but not the Vietnam war.)

A colleague told me that Quebec gets to choose its own immigrants.   Immigrants to other provinces are processed by the feds, not the provincial governments.  For immigrants to Quebec, the federal government only conducts a background check for security purposes, which slows down the process a bit.   Quebec ranks would-be citizens through a system of points:  more points for speaking French and for being of baby-making age.  (Immigrants from from former French colonies are at an advantage.)  It’s good to know French, as all the road signs in Quebec are not bilingual, as they are in the rest of the country.

Wednesday night’s opening worship for our convocation included a welcome from the minister emeritus from the Ottawa church and the other Canadian ministers on the planning committee.  He said:  “Welcome to the second coldest national capital on the planet, after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.”   Fortunately for the next three days of lovely fall sunshine you couldn’t tell this was true.  Unfortunately, I was one of the dutiful conferees who did not leave the Westin Hotel and attached mall-with-food-court until the weather became overcast and wet.  But a Saturday night walk in the mist wasn’t too chilly for me, and going by Parliament I felt as if I were in London, but at a much better exchange rate.


Testimonials about Supporting the UU Movement

It was a dark December in 1999, and we on the Minister Search Committee were stumped. We had some excellent ministerial candidates, but after conducting phone interviews, none seemed quite right for UUSS. We called the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Settlement Office in Boston and asked if we could have more candidates. Sure, they’d send another minister’s packet that might just work for us. It came in the mail a few days later, and that’s how we met the Rev. Doug Kraft. — Carrie


I remember the first time I went to General Assembly.  It was in Phoenix in June, ghastly hot.  But walking into that assembly hall and seeing 3000 Unitarians all working together with the same goals, ideas and values was so moving to me.  Being part of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations makes me realize that UUSS is not out there alone trying to make a difference.  —  Linda


To work with our youth in Religious Education, I was completely dependent on the excellent materials produced for the “Our Whole Lives” (“OWL”) series to handle sensitive issues in a non-didactic way which facilitated values clarification and development.  In addition to these resources developed at the national level, I attended training provided at the District level.

The breathtakingly-beautiful high alpine environment of deBenneville Pines Camp in the San Gabriel Mountains, one of 30 UU camps around the country, was a wonderful environment for my daughter to have the camaraderie of other children of gays or lesbian parents at “Rainbow Family Camp.”  It was so delightful, we’ve gone twice.  A memory for life is Charlotte exclaiming —  while peeking out the window at dawn – “Daddy, Jorge, it snowed!”   — Ron


Being with thousands of other UUs at our General Assembly is so empowering.  The range of issues addressed, the opportunities for self-discovery and growth, and friendships started are incredible.  Our movement addresses crucial issues of our day:  civil rights, marriage equality, peace-making, women’s rights, demographic change and equity, and environmental issues, to name a few.  When you trace the impacts UUs make when aspirations are translated into actions at individual congregations, you realize we have an honorable legacy. –- Ron


Please give generously to support UUSS’s membership in the Unitarian Universalist Association and its Pacific Central District. Checks may be made out to UUSS with a note in the memo line of “UUA/PCD Dues Campaign.”   Thank you!







Skim through the songs, readings and commentary of a UU hymnal.  It is window into a mosaic of inspiration, inquiry and affirmation. –- Ron Selge


Please give generously to support UUSS’s membership in the Unitarian Universalist Association and its Pacific Central District. Checks may be made out to UUSS with a note in the memo line of “UUA/PCD Dues Campaign” and returned in the attached envelope. Thank you!

UUSS Reaches Out in Solidarity: Stepping Up to Support our UU Religious Movement

By the Family Minister
October 2009
This congregation voluntarily participates in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations because we know that our congregations are better together.  We are also one of 40 congregations in the UUA’s Pacific Central District.

We give and receive support to other congregations by yearly contributions to sustain these district and national networks of support.  The rate of contributions is based on congregation size.  Normally, UUSS would give about $30,000 per year to support this work.  Unfortunately, in the current year our UUSS budget includes a nearly-total cut in its support of the district and the UUA.

Our support does not have to remain that low, however.  The Board of Trustees has authorized a special appeal for donations by members, friends and guests of UUSS to sustain the work of our larger movement.  I am happy that UUSS members Ron Selge and Linda Clear have agreed to lead this fundraising project.
A few examples of how UUA and District involvement helps us at UUSS:
Last winter our church hosted the Pacific Central District’s marketing & outreach workshop, and many of us attended.  (It was one of several organized by the district every year.)

The PCD spring assembly features inspiring keynote addresses, creative worship, and workshops to help lay leaders learn ideas and skills from one another.
The national UUA helps congregations find ministers and make good matches with them. (So far, so good…right?)
The UUA provides training and leadership materials for lay officials, religious educators and ministers.  It publishes our gray and green hymnals, books on spiritual practice, social justice and UU identity and excellent religious education materials for children, teens and adults in congregations.

Last spring our Youth Coming of Age leaders made use of an excellent new handbook from the UUA; in June eight of us made a UU heritage tour of Boston, Lexington and Concord.  This year several more UUSS teens will benefit from the UUA’s age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education programs, known as Our Whole Lives (OWL).
Our denomination’s elected leaders have given voice to our values of reason, freedom and compassion on social issues of fairness and justice, including marriage equality, reproductive rights, religious diversity, peace making and health-care access.
I am proud to be a Unitarian Universalist and proud to be part of this UU congregation.
In response to the invitation to help restore our UUSS support of our denomination and local district, I will make a personal donation of $250.  To the extent that you are able, I hope you will consider making a generous donation in this campaign to sustain and build our liberal religious movement.
Every gift makes a difference!


PS—Checks may be mailed or brought to church and made out to UUSS with this memo line note: “UUA/PCD.” To receive a weekly update from our UU district executive about local and national UU news and opportunities, send a note to

Another PS–as of November 1, advance gifts to this appeal totaled $1,250.  Thank you!