Greetings from UUEstrie, a liberal spiritual community that first gathered in the village of North Hatley back in 1886, as the First Universalist Church of North Hatley.

Join us Sundays at 10:30am for our weekly service.

Latest News

Remembering Nancy Pacaud


Nancy Pacaud recently passed away. She was one of the pillers of the Unitarian Universalist Church of North Hatley for many years. Her contributions were many and varied, both in time, attention and financially. In a sense, UUEstrie is a living memorial to her. We remember her with gratitude, and with sincere sympathy for her family and many friends. She is sorely missed!

Here are two photos of her at the May Pole Dance on May Day, 2009, at UUEstrie.

MayPole 2009-05-03 NancyPacaud2
MayPole 2009-05-03 NancyPacaud

Townships Tellers and New Members

In lieu of our normal service this Sunday, we were treated to stories by the Townships Tellers as well as other local tellers. This was followed by a potluck lunch. Thank you to all who attended and shared stories and dishes.

From left to right: Shirley Nortcliff, Ann Rothfels, Heather Davis, Michel Thibeault, Elizabeth Copeland, Jason Kerpan
From left to right: Shirley Nortcliff, Ann Rothfels, Heather Davis, Michel Thibeault, Elizabeth Copeland, Jason Krpan
Ann sharing stories about her time as a Kindergarten teacher.

Last week, we welcomed three new members to UUEstrie: Esther Saanum, Ryan Frizzell, and Crystle Reid.

From left to right: Esther Saanum, Ryan Frizzell, Crystle Reid, Rev. Carole Martignacco and UUEstrie president Rachel Garber
From left to right: Esther Saanum, Ryan Frizzell, Crystle Reid, Rev. Carole Martignacco and UUEstrie president Rachel Garber

Please follow UUEstrie’s Facebook page for more pictures and news.

Rev. Fulgence update

An update from the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) on Rev. Fulgence. Please be sure to share the word on social media by using ‪#‎releaserevfulgence‬.

“Fulgence is meeting with his lawyers to prepare for his defence. Financial support is needed during this process; to donate directly to International Council of UUs, please click here or at the following link:https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr…. Regrettably, Canadian tax receipts cannot be issued at this time.

ICUU is in touch with members in Burundi and providing support to Fulgence.

The Change.org petition has reached over 1,000 signatures and has been sent on to decision-makers. Please encourage more to sign on here.”

Petition to free Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana, minister of the Unitarian Church of Burundi

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana, minister of the Unitarian Church of Burundi

Friends of UUEstrie –

The Unitarian Church of Burundi has recently come under attack in the context of civil unrest within the country. The church was recently vandalized and ransacked, and members of the church have been questioned, jailed, and forced to flee for their safety. The minisiter of the church, Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana, was arrested at gunpoint on November 16 and is currently in police custody.

Rev. Ndagijimana visited UUEstrie in 2013 as we were celebrating ten years of shared ministry. Our minister, Rev. Carole Martignacco, has been in contact with him since his visit and was “deeply moved by his peaceful spirit as he described the challenges of his ministry, struggling to serve a very poor community with limited resources”. He has spoken with her frequently about the increasing violence he faces in Burundi.

We encourage all members and friends of UUEstrie to write to Stéphane Dion (Minister of Foreign Affairs) in order to secure the immediate release of Rev. Ndagijimana.

A Facebook page has been created to keep everyone updated on the situation in Burundi. Please follow the page at https://www.facebook.com/SupportUUBurundi. The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists is currently raising funds for displaced members of the church as well as repairs and legal fees (more information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/InternationalUUs/posts/1146749508689023). You can also sign a petition demanding Rev. Ndagijimana’s humane treatment and immediate release at www.change.org.

Please help us stand in solidarity with our friends in Burundi.


Welcoming Congregation

The Welcoming Congregation program was developed for Unitarian Universalist congregations wanting to become more inclusive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) people. Welcoming Congregations are those which have completed the program and passed a congregational vote to affirm that they welcome the membership and active participation of the LGBTQ community.

In 2005, we at UUEstrie did these things and became an official welcoming congregation. We have two plaques, one in English and one in French documenting our Welcoming Congregation status.

Ten years later, we thought it was time we refresh our understanding and commitment to the inclusion of LGBTQ persons, and thought to invite once again some personal testimony from folks living in the sex and gender minorities. Hence the invitation to Lisa McDonald-Jensen and her eldest son Tadhg, to speak at the worship service on June 28 just past.

Could we have timed this service any more perfectly?

  • In May, the United Nations launched a video spotlighting LGBT diversity.
  • In June, the UN released a report presenting recommendations on protecting LGBT persons:

While some progress has been made since the first study four years ago spotlighting discrimination and violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, the overall picture remains one of pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT/I) persons in all regions.

“Violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia is often particularly brutal, and in some instances characterized by levels of cruelty exceeding that of other hate crimes,” according to the report by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) (A/HRC/29/23) to be presented … to the UN Human Rights Council, which requested it.

  • The month of June has been particularly full of debate about gender diversity as former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlin Jenner.
  • And on Friday, June 26, 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, making gay marriage legal across the country. Their conclusion was that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.

Keith, with thanks to Lisa McDonald-Jensen


Alzheimer’s: Susan’s Story Inspires

Susan and her Mom Patti on St Patrick's Day 2012
Susan and her Mom Patti on St Patrick’s Day 2012

On Sunday, March 22, UU friend Susan Macaulay gave a presentation about the journey she’s undertaken with her mom who was originally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2006.

Susan, who lived in Dubai for 18 years, came back to care for her Mom in her mother’s home near Georgeville  in October 2011.

Susan shared audio clips and examples of how the experience with her Mom have transformed the way she sees Alzheimer’s disease and the people who have it.

“I believe if you believe people are going to be aggressive, angry and frustrated well, sure enough that’s how they turn out to be,” Susan said. “But if you see it in a different way then you can manage the situation differently. You can change your own behavior and you can have a different impact on the person who has the disease.”

Susan said her mother, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, still has many moments of clarity in which she shares her thoughts and wisdom.

Susan quoted author and dementia care pioneer Naomi Feil who says:

  • all very old people are unique and worthwhile
  • maloriented and disoriented people should be accepted as they are we should not try to change them
  • listening with empathy builds trust trust reduces anxiety and restores dignity
  • there’s a reason behind the behavior of very old maloriented and disoriented people; it may be because their basic human needs are not being met

Susan recently published the first in a series of ebooks about her journey with her Mom; it’s called My Alzheimer’s Story: A Daughter’s Diary and is available on Amazon here.

Susan also writes a blog called MyAlzheiemersStory; see videos of Patti playing piano and singing with Eric Manolson here.

Christmas in the Forest

Our annual pageant and turkey supper was held on Sunday, 14 December 2014. This year’s original play written and directed by Kevin Jensen, takes place in medieval England. Queen Elizabeth becomes lost in the forest, and takes shelter in a peasants’ hut.
Heather Lewis took these photographs. The first four were taken during the play, she apologizes that the lighting was not very good. (Well, it was a peasant hut, after all!)
processional pavane
The remaining pictures of the cast were taken after the play. First up are the grandparents (Chantal and Michael), who were in a fluster over serving poached venison stew.
Sir Keith and Lady Phyllis
Her Majesty and Earl Dudley
Queen and ladies

Joy and relief after the play. Note the incriminating antlers and deer hides on the box.
Carpenter and playright

Sorry, folks, novenison stew, it was all eaten up in the play. But lots of turkey and everything else you can imagine.

Actually more desserts that you can imagine.

Thanks to all who helped , with both the play and the dinner. The kitchen was a busy place.

Beyond the Steeple


Sermon/Reflection ~ UU Estrie, June 8 2014

Reverend Carole Martignacco

An Audio File of this sermon is also available.

Remember that catchy little rhyme: Here’s the church, here’s the steeple – open the doors, and see all the people! Some of us learned it decades ago in Sunday School – remember Sunday School? How things used to be…the church of the past? Prevailing trends today see fewer and fewer people coming through those doors.

This morning let’s review some trends influencing how we do church. Reflecting on the larger forces at work in shaping who we are, here at UU Estrie, as we imagine the future of this beloved community. Somewhere beyond the steeple – or bell tower, in our case – a new age is dawning. With potential to fulfill the dreams of early Unitarians or Universalists who longed for a freedom of faith not possible in ages past. Our present is filled with challenges to engage our best energies, yet also with unforseen possibilities heralding a future of hope.

But first – let’s explore this nagging question: Where are the people?

Where ARE they on Sunday morning instead of here. How do they differ from US? After all, we’re here! Were I to ask, each of you’d have an answer for why you’re here. But what of those others out there – where are they? What’s happened to faith in our lifetime, as the category of “nones” keeps growing. Nones in this context mean not those faithful women in medieval clothing who dedicated entire lives to God and the service of humanity. Now considered outdated, old-fashioned – not only because of their habits. Today’s N – O – N – E – S are those who on questionnaires or census forms mark the box NONE when asked to identify their religious affiliation. And they’re becoming the fastest growing denomination in North America!

More and more, not just small churches like ours, but huge cathedral-like structures, are having to close or reinvent themselves. Recently the Gazette ran an article with photos of several beautiful landmarks in the greater Montreal area of various denominations that have been – shall we say – born again, converted to uses other than Sunday morning services. It seems life after death for churches looks like community centers, theatres, museums, adult learning centres, art galleries. In some cases, coffee houses or pubs. We’ll come back to that…

Here at home at UU Estrie, we look for reasons. We ask ourselves – what are we doing wrong? Are we meeting at the right time? Would a half hour earlier or later make a difference? Do we invite the right speakers? Should we have shorter sermons? Or none at all – more workshops, book discussions, film nights? Have we too many committees, or not enough? How many small groups should we run, for how long, when and where should they meet? What kind of programming would attract more children, young people, families, people like us? Are we welcoming and friendly enough? There’s a sense that if a solution exists, like a key – it’s hanging on some hook just beyond reach.

All these questions reveal a perception that our biggest problem is how to get THEM to come to US. Which should lead to our next question: Is that true?

If we lift our heads a bit, we begin to ask the larger, big-picture questions: What’s happened to religion in the 21st century? What’s wrong with this newer generation, that church no longer holds a primary place in their lives? Why do time-honoured values no longer play a central role in shaping society? Keeping the Sabbath, making time for worship, gathering in community have given way to work weeks without weekends, Sunday morning soccer games, shopping. For families where both parents are breadwinners, Sabbath is the only day to sleep in, have breakfast with family, do some yard work. Many blame social fragmentation, instant communications technologies, latest innovations in social media.

Are we living in a Godless era? Decades ago Time magazine sported a cover announcing the death of God. Should it be any surprise the death of church would naturally follow? Has the cult of materialism finally won?

When I first came to North Hatley, I learned from someone in another faith community that we Unitarian Universalists were known as that “Godless Church on Main Street”. Like most stereotypes, WE know that’s not true. Instead of just One name for god, we’re open to many. But wait a minute! Here’s the rub: if people even thought it was true – wouldn’t the trend be that we’d GROW as people turn away from mainstream religion? After all, some of us are here today because we treasure this place as a kind of refuge where we needn’t park our minds at the door, hide questions or doubts that prevent us fitting in elsewhere. Not because we’re god-less, but because our faith, our values, our sense of the sacred – however we define it – is important enough to claim a whole morning of our lives each week. Finding this place – open-minded, open-hearted, sans dogma, sans credo – has meant for many here – your minister included – finally coming home religiously. And we know there must be others like us, out there, somewhere.

Lyle Schaller is one of those rare folk who for years has studied statistics and demographics of declining church membership and charted the rise of the “nones”. He writes in “Small Congregation – Big Potential” – a book I picked up on sale at the recent ACM – about pervasive cultural shifts occurring in our lifetime. Declining church membership is a symptom, he confirms, of a culture in transition. How we read the changes, what we interpret them to mean, whether we resist or learn to use them, shapes how we respond and who we become.

Briefly, some changes Schaller names:

1) Emergence of Regional Institutions: Most churches like our own were neighbourhood churches, designed to serve a population within a 3-mile radius. (4.5k in Canada!) You could get here on foot, horseback or by horse-drawn buggy. Today’s increased mobility draws us out of the neighbourhood into more regional activities.

2) Competition is Greater: Our needs are met by more than the village church, corner grocery store or local schoolhouse. Increased competition for people’s time, energy, attention and financial support – those Soccer leagues, television, Internet, recreational opportunities and shopping – now compete for Sunday morning allegiance.

3) Consumerism: We shop for everything, and order it from anywhere in the world. Not even church, says Schaller, is exempt from this trend. Church shopping is a reality – and some are finding it, like other goods and services, online! In spiritual websites and virtual communities.

4) Expectations are Greater: We are used to being entertained, in grand style. Instead of making our own music – think CDs! The 2-3 hour sermons of 19th century UU preachers Emerson, Channing or Ballou are long past. (I admit, I’ve a bit of nostalgia here: trained in seminary on those sermons, I sometimes long for the depth one can explore in the extended essay form.) Twenty minutes these days is a stretch for our sound-bite commercial-conditioned attention spans.

5) Institutional Loyalties are Weaker: Not just religious, secular and political, across the board. Membership in all kinds of institutions is declining – fraternities, sororities, and worker’s unions, along with churches.

6) Changing Criteria for Self-Identification: Provincialism’s given way to cultural plurality. Race, class, ethnic background, the church you were born into no longer dictate your choices. Affiliations are diverse and optional.

(What could be more UU, you say? Should we resist this? If you listen beneath the surface, there’s a lot that’s positive here. Them begins to look more and more like us!)

7) The Continued Impact of Technology: Guttenberg’s Press invented in the 1400s heralded a religious revolution. The Reformation resulted when masses of people became literate, learning to read and interpret the scriptures for themselves. Our own roots are in that revolution. As questions of doctrine were asked, we pushed the issues – challenging even the reformers.

(Fast-forward to the 21st century. Should we be surprised that a World-Wide-Web allowing people everywhere to be intellectually and spiritually nourished without leaving home – from their desk or deck chairs – might have equal transformative power?)

8) Scarcity to Abundance: Wider opportunities exist, an abundance of choices for fulfilling all our needs, spiritual as well as material.

You get the idea. What might these trends mean for us? We UUs call ourselves the “choosing” – not the chosen – people. Will we choose to go with the flow here? Taking into account huge cultural changes across not only decades but millennia, should we be surprised at the decline in our age of an institution dating back to ancient times? And remember, we’re just talking cultural changes; we’ve said nothing yet about theology or how spirituality has evolved over time.

A bit of reality therapy may be in order. Remember Erik Erikson’s simple, self evident idea that it’s more productive to stop focusing on how we think life SHOULD be, and begin dealing with what really IS! To think “outside the box” we’ve put things in. The box in this case being the church building. Should we moan that the rise of the “Nones” signals a decline in religious values, or promote a growing spiritual movement looking more and more like that open-minded, open-hearted, free faith our UU founders long ago imagined.

Can we befriend technology to work in our favour? Many people in the last decade first learned they were Unitarian Universalists – not by a church visit – but an online survey conducted by Beliefnet.com. Some serve now in our ministry, having self-identified with that survey. We didn’t find them; they discovered us! All we need to is be discoverable. Should we develop our use of social media; I vote YES!

What about people losing faith in institutions – religious as well as political – church as usual? They still need community, but they’re finding ways to gather without church buildings. Some were announced at the CUC ACM in Montreal a number of us attended weeks ago. We welcomed several young adults into ministry at our worship service there – all card-carrying members of the emerging culture, with brilliant insights into how we as a movement might mobilize resources to fulfill the theme of the conference: Beyond Our Walls. Friday’s keynote speaker Rev. Meg Riley is minister of the largest UU church in the world, the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Which holds services online. People from near and far – countries across the world in all hemispheres, even Canada – gather to “light the chalice” from where they are. One by one the announce where the flame is being lit, share joys and sorrows, meditate, pray together, reflect upon an inspirational message, and share music and fellowship – all online. It may not be your trip; after all, you have this community here. But if you were – say, in Sudbury Ontario, with no UU community nearer than Ottawa – this might be the only place you could come home to, religiously.

The ministers’ Confluence lecture highlighted outreach ministries across the country: shared social justice projects, seminary students forming Facebook congregations, young adults self-organizing in online communities. “Pub churches” in Halifax and Edmonton – regular Saturday night services at local pubs where young adults and others gather informally over beer for lively music, spiritual conversation, and fellowship – religion “beyond the steeple”. What would that look like in North Hatley?

In a current issue of UUA World magazine, national congregational consultant Terasa Cooley spells it out: “If you like the church you have now – I’m not going to lie to you – you might not be able to keep it, at least not exactly the way it is. The church that speaks to and serves the next generation will not be the same. But that has always been true.”

We live in exciting times. We may long for stability and comfort, yet to not only survive but thrive we must act with courage, generosity and vision. Like all life forms, as a church that’s alive we must change ourselves as things change around us. Create new ways of gathering, being spiritual, relevant to our times. Our choice is clear: to rise to the challenge or resist and face an empty church.

We need worry less and less about how THEY come to US as we design ways to go out and meet them where they are. Our recent Sharing Our Faith and Northern Lights grants are funds entrusted to us by fellow Canadian Unitarians and Universalists for community and interfaith outreach. In an inspiring show of support, they’re cheering us on, voting on UU Estrie’s ability to become more than we are. Opportunities for this outreach abound; come learn more at the Town Hall meeting after the service today, about our growing engagement with the community beyond our doors. We’ve begun to answer that call.

People may never stream through these red doors. Do we still need the church? I say YES! For this is the hub of the wheel. The place from which we move out into the beyond, the place we come back to and meet face-to-face, renewing our energies, deepening our sense of belonging, sharing our lives, grounding ourselves again in hope, before moving out into the wider world again.

For move we must. We can no longer afford to “sit on the franchise.” There’s a reason we UUs consider ourselves not a denomination, but a movement. Passionate about what we stand for, standing is not enough. We must move – as the spirit is moving – out into the world, beyond this comfort zone, beyond the steeple.

And the good news today: the very challenges posed by a rapidly changing 21st century culture point us toward exciting possibilities. Fulfilling ancient dreams of our faith, making the 19th century prophecy of Theodore Parker a reality in our time: “Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere; its temple, all space; its shrine, the good heart; its creed, all truth; its ritual, works of love; its profession of faith, divine living.”

By our best efforts, may it be so.

Pervasive Surveillance and other CUC Resolutions

Be it resolved…?

Two UU work groups are proposing resolutions for possible adoption at the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) AGM in Montreal in May.

Peace in Israel-Palestine. The first resolution concerns the tangled conflict in Israel-Palestine. It asks that CUC member congregations study the history of the conflict, and the present conditions in Israel. It asks that the CUC provide resource materials and persons to help in this process. And it asks that, at the 2015 AGM, member congregations be prepared to decide if Social Justice action on this matter is needed.

 We already began this study with two recent services. The most recent was on March 23, when Jerzy Przytyk presented a video by an Israeli soldier entitled “Soldier’s Diary.” Jerzy suggested the best way to intervene is to support Israeli and Palestinian groups who are working for peace. The discussion has just begun!

 For more information, visit http://cuc.ca/acm-2014/annual-meeting/

Pervasive Surveillance. The second resolution is new and urgent. It responds to information that became public in January – that the Canadian government believes that it has the right to engage in wholesale collection of “metadata” about telephone and Internet communications of Canadians. The promoters of the resolution say this is an attack on our basic freedoms, and one which should be challenged by UUs.

The resolution asks CUC member congregations to call on the government of Canada (1) to report on all pervasive surveillance programs that have been carried out by government agencies over the past five years; (2) to assign the authority to oversee surveillance activities undertaken by the government to an agency that is responsible directly to Parliament, not to the Cabinet; (3) to make it unlawful for the government to engage in pervasive surveillance, including the routine mass collection or storage of its citizens’ communications, movements, or metadata; (4) and to recommend that the individual members of CUC member congregations write their elected representatives to express concern about pervasive surveillance and their support for the changes outlined above.

 Any members of CUC congregations who support the resolution are invited to formally join the group of “proposers.” To do this, contact Jack Dodds by email <brmdamon@hushmail.com> or telephone 905-727-4097. For more information, visit http://firstunitariantoronto.org/component/content/article/97-social-justice/514-pervasive-surveillance-resolution .

New Mission and Vision Statements. The CUC board of directors also sent us a discussion paper about the CUC’s new vision and mission. Many religious denominations have seen declining numbers. This includes Unitarian Universalists, although the decline is not as sharp as for some other groups. The question is this: What would it mean for us to be a truly transformative religion for the times in which we live? For more information, visit www.cuc.ca .

CUC Board Nominations – Congratulations, Jaime!

The CUC Nominating Committee has proposed three nominees for the Board of Trustees of the CUC. For the Eastern region, our very own Jaime Dunton. For the Central region, Lorna Weigand of Don Heights. For British Columbia, Kristina Stevens of Victoria (second term). They join five other board members whose 3-year terms are in progress.

Further nominations (by April 16), questions and comments may be directed to the Chair of the Nominating Committee, Bunty Albert, at nominations@cuc.ca. Details are on the Governance page of www.cuc.ca.

Commemorating Yom Hashoah

Yom Hashoah

(A reading by the Reverend Carole Martignacco, 9 April 2013, for the Goldberg Duo concert at Plymouth Trinity United Church, Sherbrooke QC)

Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, honors the millions of lives lost in Hitler’s death camps. When one group of people or one characteristic gets defined as “not us,” “not normal” or outside the common bounds of humanity, terrible consequences can ensue.

Are there lessons for humanity in the horror of this history? (the above is a quote from the UUA Church of the Larger Fellowship DAILY COMPASS Meditation series)


Each one of us must search our hearts. Each of us must root out, with a love and compassion that is ruthless in its honesty, the source of oppression and exclusion in ourselves, asking in our own lives:


Who do we leave out or turn away? Who do we see defined by our society as “not us”? What do we do to welcome the foreigner, the stranger, the outsider into the fold?


Commemorating the Holocaust holds power for us today in that it calls us to confront our own ability, out of perceived difference or distance, to alienate, neglect or deny the well being of those perceived as other. It calls us to renew and expand our love and compassion, our commitment to justice, for all our siblings in the family of humankind.


The Holocaust by sheer magnitude of its cruelty is overwhelming; we can hardly imagine millions of victims. Yet for every number, a name, for every name, a living, breathing, dreaming, loving, growing, thinking, feeling human being. Like you and like me ~ each one, a unique and holy life. May they never be forgotten.


And may our prayer this year and every year be to remember ~

this must never happen again!