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Newsletter of The Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton

874 York Street, Fredericton, NB, E3B 3R8


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Sunday services: 11:00am
Empty Bowls
The Onion, an adaptation
Message from the President
Denominational Stuff
Communications from the CUC

Welcome to all visitors, whatever the length of your visit; may you find a safe home with us. We are richer for having you.

Please check orders of service or the TUFF website for upcoming services. Suggestions for services or speakers are welcome by your Adult Progam committee, which includes Jo-Anne Elder, Geneviève Laloux, Anne Leslie, Heather Lunergan, Ken Moore and Shirley Weyman.


Drum & Meditation Group: Sunday 3:30 to 5:00. Contact: Carlos Elder-Gomes (455-0413). Drumming is a way of getting in touch with our innermost feelings and giving expression to our spirit. A support group for families who HOME-SCHOOL meets on Friday mornings in the library from 10am til noon. Come for fellowship and coffee. For information contact Debi Skidmore, 452-0983.
Women's Potluck Supper Group meets monthly (often on the fourth Friday) at 6pm, for a casual and fun get together, and to share a meal. All who are interested are invited to join us for a pot luck feast. For details, call Joan Brewer 455-5169. TUFF Writers' Group, meets from 7-9pm on 1st &3rd WEDNESDAYS of every month, usually at the Fellowship. This month, March, we meet on the 3rd and the 17th, with the March 3rd meeting to be held at the home of allison comeau, #3-277 Woodstock Road; the meeting on the 17th will be at the Fellowship, where most meetings take place. Because there are often changes in venue and schedule, please call/eMail for confirmation: allison comeau, 459-1436, or Bruce Allen Lynch, 454-9222, Bridge Group, contact Betty Ponder 450-9929, meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month from 1:30-4:00pm. All are welcome to this group of beginners interspersed with more seasoned players.


EMPTY BOWLS, by Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes

Empty Bowls project is coming along well. This is a two-part fundraiser we are doing in conjunction with Old Government House and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design to support the Community Kitchen and the Food Bank. The first part is an Empty Bowls Evening at Old Government House on March 10; the second part is a lunch at the Fellowship on March 14, followed by a coffee house. This is a hunger education program that combines elements of campus ministry, outreach and lifespan learning.

Donations of $50 or more will give you a chance to choose a bowl created by the NBCCD students and faculty at Old Government House or at TUFF. However, any donation will be welcomed at the Empty Bowls Lunch and coffee house at the Fellowship. Everyone will be given soup and bread on Sunday after the service. Soup will be served at 12:30 and the coffee house will be winding up at about 3:30.

I am looking for some more volunteers. We have two (and possibly three) pots of soup promised, and are looking for bread, rolls and possibly snacks or desserts for the coffee house. We need people to help set up, greet, serve and clean up on Sunday. We also have room for one or two more musicians or poets for the coffee house.

If you would like to make a donation or can help out on Sunday, please contact me as soon as possible at 455-0413.


The Onion, an adaptation

satire n  In classical use a poem in which prevalent follies or vices are exposed with ridicule or with serious denunciation. Currently, any literary form in which irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit is used to expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

FREDERICTON--Justices of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, the province's highest court, ruled 3-1 Friday in favor of full, equal and mandatory gay marriages for all New Brunswickers. This latest ruling nullifies all pre-existing heterosexual marriages and lays the groundwork for thousands of compulsory same-sex marriages to take place in the province by June 1st, a deadline the court is not willing to extend.

"We all know that gay marriage and heterosexual marriage cannot co-exist," said Justice Marc Swisschard, the newest member in the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. "The religious right has been very vocal on this fact. We want them to know that we are paying attention."

"This ruling marks an important step toward creating an all-gay New Brunswick," said Swisschard, explaining that the courts are interested in putting an end to the mounting debate on same-sex marriage. "Instead of wasting years of debate, we decided to cut to the chase."

The justices then congratulated the province's 600,000 marriage-age residents on their new, legally mandated engagements.

The court issued the surprise order in response to the rising controversy over marriage. "Separate is never equal," said Ernest Flag, Chief Justice of the Court. "I am confident that this measure will be seen by all right-thinking people as the only solution to the divisive and ongoing controversy over marriage."

The Chief Justice then announced his engagement to Miramichi kindergarten teacher, Julius Bristolboard, a pairing that had been randomly generated by computers in the census office earlier that day. Justice Flag said that after the wedding ceremony, he would be known as Justice PFLAG.

Justice Swisschard said that those who choose not to marry in private will be married in concurrent mass ceremonies to be held at the Aitken Centre, the Regent Mall, and the Capital Curling Club. Any New Brunswicker who is not gay-married or is still in an illegal heterosexual relationship after that date will be arrested and tried for non-support.

Hundreds of confused but vocal protesters lined the street outside the court house Friday night, waving both Canadian and rainbow flags. Their chants, which broke out in pockets up and down the street, included, "Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia's got to go." Some protesters were clearly troubled with the ruling. "Frankly, this is [messed] up," said John Unsure of Noonan. "Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve, but not Adam and Some Random Guy."

Others held signs that read, "On Second Thought, maybe Christians Are Willing To Consider A Compromise."

When asked her opinion, 54-year-old protestor Gladys Traditional said, "It's unholy; me and my new partner Lucy are going to fry in hell." According to police reports, demonstrators were vocal but orderly.

At .1 percent, New Brunswick has one of the lowest concentrations of gay households in the country. Under the new law, the figure is expected to increase by 99.9 percentage points.




Parliament itself would not exist in its present form had people not defied the law.
-- Arthur Scargill

I find myself once again rushed as I was reminded that the newsletter goes to press shortly and I should write something. I know there are things I should say but will overlook, so bear with me and we will see what I can get right.

First, thanks. I can not thank enough those who give their time and keep things working. A special thank you to Mary Scott and her work with Colleen to get the tax receipts ready. On going thanks to Eric Stevenson for getting necessary modifications to the building to meet fire safety regulations. Thanks to Colleen for the hours she puts into the office every week. Thanks to all the committee chairs who make sure there are Sunday service programmes, religious education, coffee and all the little details that are so important.

In the near future, a nomination committee will be struck to fill the board and committee chairs for next year. Please give serving serious consideration. Approach any board member if you are interested in giving of your time and talent. Some current members have done their fair share and more and feel it is time for fresh ideas.

It was with deep sadness that I learned just before composing this letter of the passing of Dorothy King. Dorothy had been a member of the Fellowship since she returned to Fredericton in the early '80s following her retirement. A long time Unitarian, she had attended the Montreal church. Age had limited her mobility over the past year and we have missed her at the services.

As her vision failed her, she appreciated the members of the Fellowship who would visit and read to her. It is this sort of caring for others that makes the Fellowship the community and family it is and gives true value to membership. For Dorothy, may I say thanks to all who show such compassion. To those who knew her better than I, may I offer sincerest condolences.

The issue of gay marriage continues to generate headlines. In the U.S., the president has vowed to entrench discrimination in their constitution. In Canada, our prime minister is using delaying tactics in the hopes of not having to deal with the hot potato before the next election.

In the meantime, various jurisdictions are proceeding with permitting same sex marriage while others steadfastly maintain the status quo. New Brunswick, it would seem, will not move forward until forced to do so.

It does mean, that despite charter guarantees of freedom of religion, the Unitarian church will continue to be denied the right to perform marriage ceremonies according to our own beliefs.

Were our church financially able and had we a couple who were willing to press the matter, it would be interesting to challenge the provincial restrictions on the religious aspects of the charter rather than the equality provisions that have been used to date. Failing that, I would ask that everyone give serious thought to expressing your opinion on the matter to the provincial minister of Justice, Brad Green, with copies to the Prime Minister and our own member of Parliament, Andy Scott. An individual letter carries a lot of weight.

Politicians believe that for every person who cares enough to take pen in hand or hand to keyboard there are many who feel the same but not quite enough to be bothered. It is my concern that reactionary minded people may be the ones who are writing the most on this topic. Polls would indicate that among the young and the educated, people believe that gay people who wish to marry should be allowed to do so. Unfortunately the belief is not backed by the sort of fervour that causes letters to be written.

Please be good citizens, let your politicians know what you think.

In fellowship, Tony Fitzgerald



Religious services at the UU CHURCH OF SAINT JOHN take place on the 2nd and 4thSundays of the month at 10:30am in the Carleton Community Centre, 20 Market Place, West Saint John. Exit 120 on the Highway No. 1 Throughway. The latest issue of the Unitarian Universalist newsletter (Saint John) is now available at the following address. Please click on it http// This month there is a major change. It still needs some work but that is for later. Any problems? Send an eMail.

WHAT U*U's AFFIRM, by Mary Bennet

Some years ago, the CUC published a little yellow pamphlet called What Unitarians Affirm written by the Rev. Charles Eddis. Charles recently celebrated 50 years in the ministry (in the exact same year as Rev. Phillip Hewett, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver). Charles has served congregations in Edmonton and Montreal as well as in the United States. At the CUC's annual conference and meeting, the Sunday worship service will be conducted by Rev. Brian Kiely, minister at Unitarian Church of Edmonton, and Rev. Charles Eddis, who was minister in 1953.

Following is an excerpt from the revised pamphlet, which is posted on our website ( click "Who We Are")

What U*U's Affirm, by Charles Eddis

I have never met a Unitarian or a Universalist who did not accept the findings of science. I have never met a Unitarian or a Universalist who did not affirm the importance of this life, of living well in the here and now as opposed to preparing now for a life to come. Unitarians and Universalists hold that living well now is the only possible preparation for whatever may come after death - if anything. Life is a gift, a mystery to be respected and lived.

I have never met a Unitarian or a Universalist who did not feel a sense of personal responsibility for how he or she lived his or her life and for what happened to society and the world. I have never met a Unitarian or a Universalist who did not insist on the right to make up her or his own mind, rather than being told what to believe. I have never known a Unitarian or a Universalist who did not believe that Jesus was the son of normal human parents, conceived and born as are you and I. I know no Unitarian or Universalist who regards the world as a puppet stage over which some higher inscrutable power from time to time pulls strings.

I cannot be sure no Unitarian or Universalist will contradict me on some of this, but I venture to say that Unitarian and Universalist agreement on these matters is as close to unanimity as you will find in any religious movement.

If you ask Unitarians and Universalists what they believe, you may find them stumped for an answer. If you were to conclude from this and from their diversity and freedom, that they don't know what they think, or that one can believe anything one likes and be a Unitarian or a Universalist, or, as some say, a Unitarian Universalist, you would be mistaken. In spite of appearances, they are remarkably united in their basic values and beliefs.


So, what about it? Do you agree with this version of what we affirm? Is there more you'd like to add? Are you one of those Unitarians or Universalists who want to "contradict me on some of this"? Send your comments to me and I'll summarize in the mailing sent to our congregations on March 12 (and forward to Charles).

The full text will be available in a pamphlet by May 15, 2004. Pre-orders of 100 copies for $20 or 1000 at $200 (with your congregation's name and contact information printed on the pamphlet) are available through Philip Strapp, After May 15, 2004, prices will be 100 copies for $25. Shipping charges extra.


The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists announces the seventh in its monthly series of global chalice-lighting readings. Congregations worldwide are invited to participate in this community-building project.

This Global Chalice Lighting, in English and Czech, is to be used during March 2004:

"May this flame burn and remind us that each of us can offer goodness and love, and that each of us can be a blessing to the world." Petr Samojsky, submitted by the Religious Society of Czech Unitarians, (


*CUC Annual Conference & Meeting mini-brochure included in the Canadian Unitarian newsletter. Full details at, including: Registration forms for child care, youth, young fun, Renaissance, OWL training, etc.

*Upcoming CUC Annual Conference and Meeting will be in Hamilton, Ontario in 2005; and Saint John, New Brunswick, in 2006.

*Wallet cards with the principles and sources are available from CUC - $20/100. Customized with the name of your congregation 1000/$200 (must be paid in advance and ordered by March 31). Contact

*National Poetry month is March, 2004. ( Celebrate by sending a "short, spiritual"poem to CUC's Poetry Editor, Franci Louann, through Check out Or join the eMail list and meet U*U Poets from across Canada. (Send blank eMail to

Take care of yourselves and each other.

Mary Bennett



editorial by allison comeau Jeepers. I think i want to duck.

But first, i'll admit profound confusion over the latest cultural phenomenon. By conflating, confounding and befuddling, not to mention bleeding (apparently), a new film is charging pell-mell into politics, art, commerce, religions and intellect. The Passion of the Christ is an avalanche tumbling down the slope of popular culture. It is scooping up critics, columnists, right-wing politics, devout grannies, common sense, and religious piety along the way. With suffocation the general post-avalanche result, i'm not sure exactly where to hide.

I fell in love with Mel Gibson (his eyes, maybe) when he portrayed hard working farmer, Tom Garvey, in The River (Universal Studios, 1984). Dozens of movies later, he has founded a movement, complete with officially licensed products --crucifixion-nail pendants, keyrings, prayerfully designed witnessing tools, and T-shirts to follow.

Witnessing tools. Whew.

Daniel Lapin, a columnist and radio show host who declares himself to be a rabbi, writes: "The faith of millions of Christians will become more fervent as Passion uplifts and inspires them." (

Yoiks, i think, fundamentalist fun for everyone. Ayotollah Khomeini, Taliban, Sharyia lawyers --everybody make way for Mellifluous Mel's Moving Message. Don't let scholarship or understanding get in the way--Go Christianity, go! This is outreach at its most inventive. (Or is that invective?)

Gibson's film represents the Jewish people as the cause of Jesus' suffering and death, drawing, as Hitler did, on a cultural legacy of anti-Semitism found at the core of the gospels. This interpretation, sadly, is nurtured by many Christians; it feeds the atmosphere of fear, anger and hatred that defines the post 9/11 Western world.

As i observe the emotionally charged responses to Gibson's film, it occurs to me that truth does not belong to those who shout the loudest, cry the hardest, or bleed the most. I'm thankful for Unitarians and the oasis of reflection that is Unitarianism. Free of the terrible weight of dogma, creed, and unchallengeable gospel, Unitarians know that truth belongs to each of us who is willing to search it out.

How is it i was lucky enough to discover TUFF and Unitarianism? Well, the "hot dog" banner had something to do with it.

In spring of 2000 , when i was fairly new to this city, i saw, wrapped around a garage on York Street, a banner proclaiming The Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton. I had been to one Unitarian service, in Paris in 1987, for no other reason than they were English- speaking. Though i knew nothing about liberal religion or the need for it and had no reason to leave my rather comfortable Christian Protestantism, the Unitarians in Paris appealed to me. When i saw the TUFF banner, i decided to drop in on Sunday services.

It's been almost four years now, and i'm ready to sign the membership book. If you'll have me.

(At some point, though, i'd like to thank the person who hung that banner above the garage door at 874 York Street.) Take care, allison comeau

Unitarians: Who We Are