Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda
news of our historic UU church in Ruthven (Kingsville), Ontario

About Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda

Unitarian Universalist Church Of Olinda Photograph This church was founded on the faith that love is a more positive force for good than fear. It exists as a haven of religious freedom, offering fellowship, knowledge and inspiration to all who would seek truth, live responsibly and courageously, and be of service to humanity.


Current Sunday Services for 2020

March 18th, 2020 . by William Baylis

In-person Services suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Executive Committee of the Board together with the Minister of the church are monitoring advisories on the current coronal virus outbreak. At their meeting after the service on March 15, they elected not to offer in-person worship services until further notice. They are being replaced by new online materials and virtual services using Zoom. For future worship services, the situation will be re-evaluated with the latest medical and societal information then available.

Please check back on this site for updates, and visit canada.ca/coronavirus for more information on the virus.

Date Speaker Title Musician(s)
Sept. 13 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel Worthy WatersWater Ceremony Baylis Duo
Sept. 20 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel Chunks of TimeOur sense of awareness tends to find order by dividing time into manageable bits. Changes in seasons are one way that we find ourselves grounded in time, and as the days darken, we can find new meanings for the foreseeable future. Toni Janik
Sept. 27 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel FWIW (For What It’s Worth)Variations of Universalism have been around for longer than we might think. The details may change, but the foundations of love without exceptions offer a worldview worth cultivating. Baylis-Stone trio
Oct. 4 Rev. Justin Schroeder from Minnesota. NB time change: 11 am-noon 250 Years of Universalist Heritage and its Meaning for Our TimeContinuing our exploration of Universalism, we are invited to join a North America-wide service, celebrating our tradition’s roots on the continent. Virtual Service with Zoom
Oct. 11 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel TIA (Thanks in Advance). The general practice is to give thanks after the fact – but what if we can apply the gift of gratitude preemptively? Baylis duo and Karen Miller
Oct. 18 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel Heavy Metal– We’ve all heard of the golden rule, but what about the silver rule and the platinum rule? How do these different “metal” rules invite us to seek answers to the question: “what is the right thing to do?” Toni Janik
Oct. 25 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel IOW (In Other Words)When one-off situations seem to pop up everywhere, it may be a sign that something larger is in the works.  What do we call this? Lorie Lyons with Karen Miller & Bill Baylis
Nov. 1 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel R.I.P. Rest in PowerAs we honour those who have gone before us around the Days of the Dead, we recall the power that they can have even after death. Toni Janik
Nov. 8 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel Founded on the Faith – 140th Anniversary of our church [and U.S. Election]. Even before the cornerstone was laid for our building, our church was here. Its foundations come from faith in love without exceptions. We are here, present, as a church in celebration, commemoration, and contemplation, revereing the past with endurng faith in the dawning future. Loire Lyons
Nov. 15 Special CUC Service – NB 1 pm start Sustaining the Light – National Service by CUC. We have another opportunity to join Unitarian Universalists across the country, finding sustenance woith each other and sustaining the light together. Virtual Service with Zoom
Nov. 22 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel TFW – That Feeling When…We all have oddly specific feelings when something strange happens. And as odd as these may feel, we can also relate to them – because they are surprisingly normal when facing the unexpected. Baylis-Stone trio
Nov. 29 Jane Innerd (Ray Stone, service leader) Reflections on Being a Universalist Toni Janik
Dec. 6 Rev. Rod Solano Quesnel Power DynamicImbalance appears in many forms… Some of these are blatant, but others may not be so apparent, depending on which side of the equation you might be on. Toni Janik

You are welcome to attend our Sunday Services

February 3rd, 2019 . by William Baylis

Services begin at 10:30 AM on Sundays and last about one hour. Children are invited to attend religious education classes during the service. Weather permitting, we meet every Sunday between Labour Day and the end of June and once a month in July and August. About three services every month are given by our new minister, the Reverend Rod Emilio Solano-Quesnel and typically include an engaging sermon on a  timely topic. Other services often feature an invited guest speaker. Services are usually followed by good tea, coffee, and conversation. Please see the monthly newsletter on this site for scheduled sermons, speakers, and musicians. We welcome atheists, agnostics, and theists, pagans, humanists, Christians, members of other religious faiths and from LGTBQ communities and others seeking fellowship, knowledge, and inspiration.

The UU Church of Olinda is a welcoming congregation

September 5th, 2014 . by William Baylis

UUA Chalice Rainbow You are welcome here!welcominglogo_200

December 2020 Newsletter

November 27th, 2020 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!

TFW (That Feeling When…)

November 22nd, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #57 All Beautiful the March of Days
~)-| Words: Frances Whitmarsh Wile, 1878-1939
Music: English melody, arr. by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958
used by perm. of Oxford University Press

Interpreted by the First Presbyterian Church Oneonta Virtual Service – Posted by Kim Paterson

For All Ages – The Ecstasy of Gold – Ennio Morricone, interpreted by Carolina Eyck on Theremin

Carolina Eyck offers an ecstatic performance of one of the haunting themes from the movie The Good, The Bad and the Ugly by looping her voice and accompanying on theremin – the touchless electronic instrument.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the theremin, Hank Green explains it on SciShow – The Physics of the Weird and Wonderful Theremin

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

Today we are invited to give witness to some of the events from around the world, which remind us that what touches one affects us all.

  • Friday Nov. 20 was the International Trans Day of Remembrance, to commemorate and memorialize trans people who have been victims of violence as a result of transphobia.
  • Thursday Nov. 19 was World Toilet Day – and while this may sound whimsical, bringing awareness of sanitation (and the lack thereof) is a serious matter that affects billions of people worldwide.
  • This morning, we keep in mind the people of Central and South America, as Hurricane Iota has made landfall in Nicaragua and has affected people across the Americas.
  • And we can share optimism that Covid-19 vaccines are being shown to have high efficacy and their rollout is in the horizon.

Holding the realities of the world, we also recognize the value in giving witness to the joys and the sorrows that are present in our personal lives – to recognize, commemorate, and celebrate special moments, or landmarks in our lives.

Hymn #108 My Life Flows On in Endless Song
Words: Traditional, Verse 3 by Doris Plenn
Music: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899

The Community Church of Chapel Hill

Sermon – TFW (That Feeling When…) – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF file for download]

As we’ve been online for a while, I’ve been sprinkling some “internet-speak” expressions on our sermon titles – the kinds of shorthand that you might find on social media, or those standard abbreviations that you might use when texting on a cell phone.  This month, I’m going to talk about the initials TFW.

Now, I should note that these three particular letters can indeed be used in three distinct orders in “internet-speak” – and each of those abbreviations have distinctly different meanings… so I don’t recommend mixing them up!  For instance, the order FTW can mean “For the Win!”, as in, “Meeting together, apart – for the win!”.

There is also the infamous WTF, which… I won’t spell out here, because… this is a church.  But if you’re still curious, I’m sure someone in your family can clarify its meaning.

Today, our winning combination is TFW – That Feeling When… (dot dot dot).

It’s often used in expressions that denote a strange, yet identifiable, feeling – often a situation that is awkward, such as “That feeling when… someone points out the parsley on your teeth – after coffee hour is over”.  It can also be used in an affirming way, as in “That feeling when… you come home from the field and get to take your boots off”.  And it can also include situations when there are… conflicting emotions, as in “That feeling when… you make your bed perfectly, and now must sleep in it, and ruin it all”.

Perhaps the phrase is so ubiquitous on social media because it is helpful in describing emotions that can be tricky to fully describe, yet we also know that they will be familiar to anyone who’s been in a similar situation.

This year has brought up a lot of “feels”.  In Canada, the past eight months have certainly been quite strange, yet many of us might share a lot of the same feelings about it, alongside the rest of the globe.

Many of us have named “that feeling when… March suddenly turned into November, but it still felt like ten years”

For many in our community, the last month has brought up a wide array of strange, yet commonly shared feelings.

On his opening monologue for Saturday Night Live, on Nov. 7, American Comedian David Chapelle remarked on that feeling he had four years ago… that feeling when the election didn’t go as he had hoped – as he remembered that time four years ago, he asked “remember how bad that felt?” and then he remarked about the present in the United States: “remember that half the country, right now, still feels that way”.  His was a reminder that everyone can hurt, even when it’s for different reasons.  That everyone can feel disappointment – grief and anger – perhaps even fear, when facing defeat.  And that those feelings can be a cue to work towards healing, to act graciously, and remain humble in success.  Because everybody feels.

Indeed, 2020 has probably offered us enough feelings to process for the rest of the decade.  And while some of these feelings might feel odd, or confusing, or simply… complicated, they are also… oddly normal.  And whatever bizarre emotions may be happening with us, as part of the shared reality of 2020, it can be comforting to know that others are sharing this reality with us, and that we are not alone in it.

There can be that feeling when… you see your community come together, stay together, be together – and hold each other.

Not only does sharing in a community allow us to navigate those strange feelings when reality feels odd, but it also allows us to acknowledge and celebrate those feelings when something remarkable happens.

Small, yet significant moments, such as that feeling when… music speaks to us, when art gives us chills, when skill gives way to awe.

I recently watched musician Carolina Eyck’s rendition of The Ecstasy of Gold (which is one of the themes from the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) playing it on the unusual instrument, the theremin.  Watching Carolina Eyck’s performance certainly gives me that feeling.  And our individual tastes might differ, so I can’t expect it did the same for all of you, but I suspect some of you might share in that feeling, when hearing her play something special.

Each of you will have encounters of beauty that bring you that same feeling.  And, what’s more, there will very likely be others who share that experience.  And even when it doesn’t come from the same experience, there will be others who experience that feeling, when someone’s skill can offer transcendence or ecstasy.

We can also share optimism in the midst of extensive hardship.

That feeling when… the end of the pandemic suddenly seems within grasp.

It’s a complicated feeling… a cautious feeling.  With multiple vaccine candidates on the way, yet likely months till all who need it can get access to it.  There can be a mixed sense of celebration, maybe even an anticipation of relief, alongside a grim anxiety that it may not be fast enough for everyone who is at risk, or everyone who is still struggling.

That feeling when… lightning speed can still be agonizingly slow.

And still, my friends, we can share those strange and complicated feelings when not everything makes sense, or when something special happens, or when we can look forward in anticipation, along with all the risks that lie ahead.  My friends, here we can name, together, that feeling when… life happens.

Because, my friends, we are not alone.  We are not alone in this community.  We are not alone in the wider communities that we are part of.  And we are not alone as beings that can experience… all the feelings.

And, my friends, we can also build those special experiences together.  We do that every Sunday, and whenever else we get together, even when apart.  To remind each other that: we get it, that we can get each other, that we can hold each other – when that feeling comes up.

And we can cultivate those times when that feeling can present itself, making space for special connection.

That feeling when… we worship together.

May we continue to build that space, for that feeling when… we embody the church.

So may it be,
In Solidarity,

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Closing Hymn #100 I’ve Got Peace Like a River
Words: vs. 1-3 Marvin V. Frey, 1918(?)-1992, © 1974 Marvin V. Frey,
vs. 4-6 Anonymous
Music: Marvin V. Frey, © 1974 Marvin V. Frey

Interpreted by the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church

Sustaining Our Light

November 15th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

National Sunday Service hosted by the Canadian Unitarian Council

Founded on the Faith

November 8th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #145 As Tranquil Streams
~)-| Words: Marion Franklin Ham, 1867-1956
Music: Musicalisches Hand-buch, Hamburg, 1690, adapt.

Interpreted by The Community Church of Chapel Hill

Opening Words – Remembrance Day – Lt. Nicole McKay

My friends, as we commemorate our history and our church community on Tuesday, Nov. 10, we also remember those who have served in the face of armed conflict on Wednesday, Nov. 11.  To honour this, Lt. Nicole McKay, a Unitarian Universalist seminarian and chaplain candidate for the Canadian Armed Forces, has shared these words with congregations across Canada.

For All Ages – History of Olinda (Slideshow) – Toni Janik and Membership Committee

Our Membership Committee has put together a Slideshow with highlights of our history, including striking photos from our past and present.

You can download the Slideshow to print, or to view on your device!

Olinda 140th Anniversary Slideshow (in PDF)

Hymn #290 Bring, O Past, Your Honor
~)-| Words: Charles H. Lyttle, 1884-1980
Music: John Bachus Dykes, 1823-1876

Tune “Nicea” Interpreted by Evan Brickner on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Organ, Harrisburg, PA

1 Bring, O Past, your honor; bring, O Time, your harvest,
golden sheaves of hallowed lives and minds by Truth made free;
come, you faithful spirits, builders of this temple:
“To Holiness, to Love, and Liberty.”

2 Ring, in glad thanksgiving, bell of grief and gladness,
forth to town and prairie let our festal greeting go.
Voices long departed in your tones re-echo:
“Praise to the Highest, Peace to all below.”

3 Shrine of frontier courage, Sinai of its vision,
home and hearth of common quest for life’s immortal good,
stand, in years oncoming, sentinel of conscience,
as through the past your stalwart walls have stood.

4 Church of pure reformers, pioneers undaunted,
company of comrades sworn to keep the spirit free;
long o’er life’s swift river preach th’eternal gospel:
faith, hope, and love for all humanity.

Sermon – Founded on the Faith – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF available for download]

At the crossroads of Olinda Side Road and 5th Concession, in Ruthen, you can see the cornerstone of our church building.  That stone was laid down just over one hundred and thirty-nine years ago, and the building has housed our Church for most of our Church’s life.  That building is significant and we will celebrate it in due time.  But as we breathe, we know that our church transcends our dear building, as we witness at this moment, while our church gathers in this virtual space.

Putting the technology aside for a moment, this is not all that different from the way our Church’s founders gathered a hundred and forty years ago, as they founded it, even without something that could be called a permanent home.  As I have said for the past eight months, even before the building’s foundations were laid, our church was there, founded on something even stronger than stone or wood – our faith that love is the most powerful force for good.

Where does this faith come from?

Already this year, we have reviewed some of the historical roots of our tradition, and into this year, we will continue remembering and honouring the past that has led to how we live our faith today.  So, I won’t do an extensive historical review here, but would like to recall a sense of our roots.

As we’ve talked about this year, the foundations of a universalist theology, that saw divine love as all-encompassing, were already a part of the Early Christian Church, and for a while may have been, in fact, the prevailing understanding of Christianity, before being declared heretical in the 6th century.

The resurgence to a universalism that we know today, comes from English religious refugees and continued to emerge into New England, as well as Pennsylvania, where universalist thought permeated throughout different denominations, including the Society of Friends (Quakers) and some anabaptists.  Many folks, in questioning their theology came to the conclusion that the most powerful love there can be, is the one that ultimately accepts everyone, even if it requires tremendous patience, and calls for extensive self-reflection.  John Murray was one of these folks, and last month, a place named in his honour, Murray Grove, hosted a virtual service commemorating 250 years of that universalist root in North America, which we were able to join.

There have been shifts in our understanding, our professing, and our living of this faith that we are founded on.  To paraphrase Jane Innerd in her latest account of our history, the universal has been writ ever larger, and the ism writ ever smaller, so that from ancient Christian roots, we understand and live a faith that seeks to transcend religious labels for the sake of a common vision of love that is accessible to all.

The other “U” in our current name, Unitarianism, has some of its earliest roots in Transylvania, now part of present-day Hungary, where king Sigismund heeded advice that a religious harmony called for understanding among many faiths.

From old England, to New England; Pennsylvania and Transylvania, folks who have refused to be tied down by rigid doctrine, have searched for a theology that will invite deep connection with all who will seek it.

And that is a call that our Church’s founders heard, when they established an intentional community that placed their faith in an all-encompassing understanding of love, without exceptions, formally founding this Church – this community of fellowship – on November 10, 1880.

They gathered as they could, until “Big” Mike Fox, who subscribed to this approach, was so moved that he donated a portion of his farm, to offer a more stable home for this already founded Church, commemorated in the stone laid on September 21, 1881.

Looking back over 140 years, some things look eerily familiar with that time when we were founded.  Just as our founders first met by sharing their homes, each of our homes currently offer the physical walls that house our Church.  First with about 23 members, and an eventual attendance between 24 and 35 around the turn of the 20th century, our group is only slightly larger.  From the beginning, there have been occasional worries about money and the prospects of our community’s sustainability, and through those worries, we have prevailed, through the perseverance and generosity of members and other supporters who find fellowship, knowledge and inspiration among all who seek truth, to live responsibly and courageously, and be of service to humanity.

Still, some things look different.  In addition to the morning service, we find other ways to be the church, such as the coffee hour that was introduced by Rev. Conrad Dippel, which continues when we do meet in person, and which we also honour in the virtual space of our online services.  Other legacies may be more sublte – the fact that I join you today from my home near Lake Erie, rather than the parsonage at the crossroads, is a legacy of Rev. Martha Munson.

Looking at Jane Innerd’s latest account of our history, I have to say that I was humbled when I saw my name as part of the history of this Church.  And what struck me even more is all the other names that were mentioned.  Names which often include people who I can see right now, at this gathering.  In fact, many of the names that I call out on Sunday mornings, acknowledging their contributions to our Sunday services, are names that often came up in these pages.  There are also names that I don’t immediately recognize, as well as names that aren’t there, but which are also part of our history.

In her latest account, Jane Innerd remarks – “It is not possible to name all of the people who volunteer their time and talents at Olinda. […] Our volunteers are many and greatly valued.  Indeed everyone who attends Church Services is a volunteer who helps to keep Olinda a vibrant Church.”

My friends, you who are join in this reflection – wherever you might be today – make part of the living history of our Church of Olinda.  A celebration of our church, is a celebration of you.  A commemoration of our church, is a commemoration of all who have gone before us, named and unnamed.  And contemplation about our heritage, is also contemplation about the heritage we seek to leave for those who are still with us and those who come after us.

My friends, a hundred and forty years may feel like an intimidating amount of heritage to contend with, but you continue to co-create this heritage as you embody the faith that this Church was founded on.  My predecessor, Rev. Christine Hillman invites us to “…lean into its heritage for strength and insight”.

Recently, I heard a speech that invoked an inspiring thought, to not just keep the faith, but to spread the faith.

My friends, we spread our faith by our words and by our actions.  And our words and our actions are the product of our personal and community efforts to contemplate, to commemorate, and to celebrate, that which is most dear to us – our values, which stem from a foundation on the power of love.

My friends, this year, and beyond – let us contemplate, let us commemorate, and let us celebrate this foundation, that we may keep and spread this faith.

So may it be,
Blessed be,
In Solidarity,

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Closing Hymn #112 Do You Hear?
~)-| Words: Emily L. Thorn, 1915-, © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
Music: William Caldwell’s Union Harmony, 1837,
harmony by Eugene Wilson Hancock, 1929- , © 1984 Eugene Hancock

Interpreted by Julie Stubbs

RIP (Rest in Power)

November 1st, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Hymn #196 Singer of Life
Words: From a Texcoco Nahuatl poem
Music: Native American melody, harmony by Richard Proulx, 1937- ,
© 1986 G.I.A. Publications, Inc.

Tune on organ, offered by First Unitarian Church of Baltimore

1 Singer of Life, all flowers are songs,
with petals do you write.
Singer of Life, you color the earth,
dazzling the eye with birds red and bright.
Joy is for us! The flowers are spread!
Singing is our delight!

2 Mortal are we, with all living things,
with eagles in the sky.
Even all gold and jade will not last;
singing alone, I know, cannot die.
Here in this house of springtime bestow
songs that like birds can fly.

For All Ages – The Altar
Coming from my Mexican heritage, I have invited the Church of Olinda to join in the tradition of remembering our dead around the Mexican Days of the Dead (November 1 and 2).

Today, we shared photos and names of some of our departed loved ones, along with some of the our fond memories of them.

Olinda Names of Remembrance 2020 (Photo slideshow in PDF)

Also, on Sunday, November 1, 2020, in Leamington, ON, there was an Ofrenda – an altar or shrine of remembrance for Migrant Workers who have died on the job.

Sermon – RIP (Rest in Power) – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF document for download]

My friends, it’s been that kind of year…

Death has been more present in our minds, in our lives, and in our communities, than what seems usual – it’s an unusual year.

In addition to a number of deaths in our congregation, and in the families of our members, the global manifestation of death has been especially present as we look at the daily mounting numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths, as attested by health authorities around the world.

It’s been that kind of year – when mortality feels closer to our lives than we might be used to.  When the risk of death feels less hypothetical, and the reality of death seems to be literally outside our doors.

Many of us count among those who are called mourners, and some of us are also contemplating when mourning may once again be an immediate part of our lives.

It’s been that kind of year.

In our larger local community, we’ve also seen how certain systems may put some people at more risk than others.  Folks who live and work in long term care, for instance, have been more prone to being infected with, and dying from, Covid-19.

Similarly, the way some shared accommodations are set up for some of the migrant workers in our community, also put them at higher risk of infection, and in at least three cases, dying from this pandemic’s virus.

It’s been that kind of year.

Alongside the deaths in our immediate community, as well as the deaths we see mounting each day around the world, we have seen some notable deaths that have drawn greater attention to current realities of systemic oppression.

Over the summer, we saw the violent killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, which renewed attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.  His has not been the only such killing, though it was one of the more graphically and clearly documented ones, exposing very powerfully a reality of systemic racism, which we have also seen in Canada, and around the world.

Also over the summer, we learned that US Senator John Lewis died, and he was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reminding us that the fight against systemic oppression has been going on for a long time.

Upon the deaths of George Floyd and Senator John Lewis, there is a phrase that is often seen alongside their names – Rest in Power.

Rest in Power – a variation of Rest in Peace, that highlights the power struggles involved in their lives and deaths.  This phrase has been around in the public record for about 20 years, and is used particularly in tribute to those who have lived and died surrounded by systemic oppression.  In addition to people of colour, it is also common to hear it among LGBTQ+ folks, and particularly in remembering trans people, who have died a premature death.

Now, it is not my place to… police, how one uses this phrase.  I should, however, make note of some etiquette that goes along with the phrase Rest in Power.  And by “etiquette”, I mean more than simply being polite for the sake of social acceptance, but more powerfully, as a way of being respectful to the roots and origins of a practice that is borne from oppression.  So, to be clear, I am not inviting you to replace, Rest in Peace with Rest in Power, but rather to consider that someone’s life’s struggles, particularly when facing systemic oppression, allow us to see a different dimension to someone’s life.

I am also mindful that systemic oppression takes many forms – some of which have often been, and are, invisible.

More broadly, I find a certain truth in the phrasing of “rest in power”, as a reminder that the dead leave a powerful legacy for the living.

And not all of these legacies are powerful in the positive sense of the word – many lives gone before can leave scars that take time to heal, even beyond someone’s death… perhaps an oppressive power that the living need to struggle to overcome.

And yet, my friends, many other lives leave a powerful inspiration for the living, offering an example of ways to overcome adversity.  Often, this power was clearly visible during a person’s life and endures profoundly after their death.

Also quite often, my friends, this power only becomes clear after their death, and perhaps even in ways they might not have anticipated.

My friends, we may not always know how our actions will impact – hopefully benefit – others, and yet, with a commitment of mindful intentionality and an openness to ongoing learning and growth, we may well find hidden power in our lives, and quite likely beyond death.

My friends, our lives become legacy, often whether we mean to or not.  And today, we remember those whose legacies endure in our lives.  From whom we’ve inherited powerful inspiration, and even opportunities for struggle and growth.

May all who have struggled against power,
who have found power,
who have offered power,
Rest in Power

May all who have sought peace,
Rest in Peace

Peace on the dead
Peace on the living
Peace on all mourners
Peace on all of us

In Solidarity,
With the living and the dead,

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

November 2020 Newsletter

October 27th, 2020 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!

IOW (In Other Words)

October 25th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #126 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Words: v. 1 Robert Robinson, 1735-1790, adapt.,
~)-| vs. 2-3, Eugene B. Navias, 1928-
Music: John Wyeth, Repository of Sacred Music, Part II, 1813

Interpreted by Kaleb Brasee

1 Come, thou fount of ev’ry blessing, tune our ears to sing thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of life’s perfection fills our hearts with joy and love,
teach us ever to be faithful, may we still thy goodness prove.

2 Come, thou fount of ev’ry vision, lift our eyes to what may come.
See the lion and the young lamb dwell together in thy home.
Hear the cries of war fall silent, feel our love glow like the sun.
When we all serve one another, then our heaven is begun.

3 Come, thou fount of inspiration, turn our lives to higher ways.
Lift our gloom and desperation, show the promise of this day.
Help us bind ourselves in union, help our hands tell of our love.
With thine aid, O fount of justice, earth be fair as heav’n above.

For All Ages – Color film was built for white people – Vox

Meditation Music – Love Theme from “Cinema Paradiso” – interpreted by Karen Miller and Bill Baylis

Sermon – IOW (In Other Words) – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF for download]

The role of ministry is often described as work of service.  And in a community of faith, that can mean many things, including leading Sunday services.  This is a ministry that is often also shared with lay leaders.

Now, just as many of you might do at different times of your lives, I have also held a job in what is indeed formally called “the service industry”, literally serving food or drink.  And sometimes, members of our community fulfill that role at our church gatherings, when some of us serve food for the community, along with taking care of the other logistical aspects that this entails, like setting up the space, cleaning up, taking down.  In other words, we serve each other at our church, in many kinds of ways, some sound more literal than others, but they are all kinds of service.

Now, like some among you, I have done this semi-professionally.  For a couple of years, I held a part-time job with an event staffing agency.  In other words, we were “freelance butlers” of sorts… and that’s what we called each other in our agency’s culture – the “butlers”.  And our jobs included table and bar service for different kinds of events, from small house parties, to large gala dinners.  And yes, in addition to my license to solemnize marriages, I also have a Smart Serve certificate… in other words, a “bartending license”.

One of the gigs that I once worked at, was a private fundraising dinner – it was a schmancy affair at a swanky home, in a high-end Toronto neighbourhood.  The menu had been meticulously chosen, the desserts looked like works of art, and the décor was fancifully laid out, with purpose-made mood lighting, flower arrangements, a colour-theme, and trendy candle-holders that were whimsically suspended inside cute bird-cages around the main guest table.

The meal service was pretty standard – hors-d’oeuvres, cocktails, sit-down, salad, main course, schmancy dessert.  We’d done this plenty of times.

My fellow butlers lined up to serve the salad.  A small platoon of us filed out and each of us served the diners, two plates at a time.

Just as I was rounding the halfway point around the table, I suddenly found myself seeing stars and then felt a warm drip around my ear and side of the face.

It turns out that I had crashed into a birdcage.

The kind of birdcage that held an hour’s worth of melted paraffin wax, which was now dripping down my side unto my agency-approved black vest, black tie, black shirt, and black pants uniform.

Also, it was on my hair.

In a moment of crisis-management brilliance, I arranged for a co-working butler to serve the rest of my allotted salad, while I sheepishly walked over to my supervisor, with wax slowly hardening on my clothes, to explain the situation, and fill out the OSHA-mandated incident report.

My supervisor was… graceful enough.  She didn’t make a big deal out of it, but did helpfully suggest that I relieve my colleague on dish duty, so that they may take my place on table duty, as my uniform was no longer up to industry standard.

While no blame was named, I did feel rather foolish at my misstep, and many questions came to mind as I started piling dirty dishes into plastic bins.  How did I not see the birdcage?  Could I have avoided the birdcage?  Why am I the only one to have crashed into the birdcage?

My relationship with the birdcage featured deeply into my sense of ineptness at my job of putting down plates of salad.  I felt foolish, and had existential questions about my ability to perform in the service industry.

At some point into the main course, one of my senior colleagues joined me on dish duty.  Turns out that the seemingly static birdcage had a way of sneaking up on people.

With a slightly banged-up head, and an even more banged-up ego, my colleague’s company offered me an odd comfort.  I may have been a fool, but I wasn’t the only one.

A few minutes into dessert, my supervisor walked into the kitchen – “The photographer just got waxed!” she declared.

A very professional-looking fellow with silver hair and an expensive camera walked in.  Paraffin featured heavily on his corduroy jacket.  He was talking about how we would word the invoice for dry-cleaning.

By that point, I no longer felt foolish.  It was clear to me that it wasn’t a matter of me absently bumping into a birdcage, or my colleague being equally clumsy.

In other words, the problem was systemic.

Something about the layout in the venue’s décor lent itself to workers being wacked on the head and waxed over their bodies and clothes.

Now, I believe that the interior decorator for this particular event never had it in their program plan to harm workers, or spill hot paraffin over them.  I am convinced that that particular outcome was never part of their intent.

And yet, their layout had a measurable impact on the people responsible for making the event happen.  Some of them were newbies, like me, but it also included more seasoned service staff, as well, as full-out professionals, with years of experience.

It wasn’t a matter of an individual’s personal ability or shortcomings – it was the structure in place that was inherently problematic, and prone to cause harm to an entire category of people involved in the event – in this case the service workers.

My friends, in our communities, our living covenant calls on us to grow into awareness toward nurturing right relations with each other.  The examples of the silver, gold, and platinum rules, offer us perspective on the kinds of questions we can ask of ourselves, and others, when deciding how we can treat those around us… examining how we love ourselves, how we can love our neighbours responsibly, and moreover, how can we allow the wider community – and the systems in it – to foster loving spaces.  Spaces where we can be mindful of our intentions – and their impacts.  And spaces where we hold each other accountable, not just as individuals, but as a community.

My friends, as we continue to build beloved community, we may grow into awareness of how our separate selves collectively make the space for warmth and light.

In Solidarity,
So may it be,
In other words,

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Hymn #125 From the Crush of Wealth and Power

~)-| Words: Kendyl L. R. Gibbons, 1955- , © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
Music: Peter Cutts, 1937- , © 1969 Hope Publishing Co.

Interpreted by John Thomas, baritone soloist, posted by Dan Inglis

Heavy Metal

October 18th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #70 Heap High the Farmer’s Wintry Hoard
Words: John Greenleaf Whittier 1807-1892
Music: American folk melody, arr. by Annabel Morris Buchanan, 1899-1983, © 1938, renewed 1966 J. Fischer & Bros. Co.,
harm. By Charles H. Webb, 1933- , © 1989 J. Fischer & Bros. Co.

Tune “Land of Rest” Interpreted by Bobby Horton, from the soundtrack to “National Parks”

1 Heap high the farmer’s wintry hoard!
Heap high the golden corn!
No richer gift has autumn poured
from out the lavish horn!

2 Through vales of grass and meads of flowers
our plows their furrows made,
while on the hills the sun and showers
of changeful April played.

3 We dropped the seed over hill and plain
beneath the sun of May,
and frightened from our sprouting grain
the robber crows away.

4 All through the long, bright days of June
its leaves grew green and fair,
and waved in hot mid-summer’s noon
its soft and yellow hair.

5 And now, with autumn’s moonlit eyes,
its harvest time has come,
we pluck away the frosted leaves
and bear the treasure home.

For All Ages – The Golden Rule Poster – by Scarboro Missions

The Golden Rule is one example of an “ethic of reciprocity” – this is a way of dealing with each other by which we may benefit each other together.

Many religious traditions have a version of this, and one famous collection of these is a poster created by the ministry Scarboro Missions.

Here is a site that shows a few designs of the poster in a few different languages:


And here is the site of the original creator’s organization


Sermon – Heavy Metal – Rev. Rod


Read: [Print-ready PDF document available for download]

In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, we often outline a process for seeking norms on how we’d like to get along with each other, and we refer to this process as being in Covenant – this is something we’ll continue to explore in the coming weeks and months.

Now, let’s start with one norm that many of you will be familiar with –  the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  The Golden Rule appears in the gospels of Matthew (7:12) and Luke (6:31).  It recalls wisdom from the Hebrew scriptures – in Leviticus, there is a commandment: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).  Other traditions have ethical pronouncements that echo the sentiment of reciprocity offered by the Golden Rule.

I’d like to invoke another kind of scriptural source here, which is the last book by astronomer Carl Sagan, called Billions & Billions.  I like it because he devotes an entire chapter to discussing several ethical rules to live by.  The chapter is called “The Rules of the Game”.

In pointing out different ethical guidelines that have similar formulations, Carl Sagan lists them with according “metal” names.  The more noble-sounding ones, are given names of what are called “noble” metals, like gold and silver, which do not easily tarnish, while the approaches that sound less noble, tend to recall the names of lesser value metals.

Among these “metal” rules, is the similar-sounding Silver Rule – a negative formulation of its Golden counterpart – “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you”.  At first hearing, it sounds deceptively identical, except the Golden Rule promotes active positive action – to benefit others as you would like the same – while the Silver version seems more focused on preventing reciprocal harm.  And depending on the situation, the outcomes might be different.

Similarly, the Brass or Brazen Rule is more reactive – Do unto others as they do unto you.  It functions as a response to others’ actions.  And it’s the basis of what is more commonly known as Tit-for-Tat.  This is a fairly standard rule, perhaps one of the most widely followed, even without us realizing it.  And perhaps this is because it does not call for the level of self-reflection as the Silver and Golden Rules do, as they ask us first how we love ourselves, so that this may be a guide towards how we treat others.

This is perhaps the ennobling attribute of the “nobler” metal rules – Silver and Gold – as they call for self-reflection and invite you to value self-love, which is even more valuable if this self-reflection becomes a guide on how you love your neighbour.

Back to the Brazen Rule, and its derivative, Tit-for-Tat – these risk unhealthy cycles… it works all fine and good as long as others are playing along by treating you the way you’d like, and you treating them in kind.  But as soon as someone treats their neighbour poorly, a never-ending cycle of retaliation is liable to begin in a kind of perpetual vendetta.

The reciprocal nature of these rules is broken by the more unscrupulous Iron Rule – Do unto others as you like, before they do it unto you – and its moral compass seems to be based strictly on immediate self-interest and the capacity to get away with it.

There is also an odd hybrid between the Golden and Iron Rules – Sagan phrases it as Suck up to those above you, and abuse those below – and he calls this one the Tin Rule, describing it essentially as the Golden Rule for superiors and the Iron Rule for inferiors.  Examples of this ethic are easy to find these days.

Lately, the Golden and Silver Rules come to mind around the question of why we wear masks.  When health authorities began recommending them, they made it clear that their purpose was less about protecting oneself directly, and more about protecting others from potential harm… from us.

If you value being protected from potential harm coming from others, and you applied either the Golden or Silver Rule, then the ethical outcome is quite clear – you wear a mask.

But even this example exposes some of the issues that come with these noble metal rules.  What happens when you apply the rule, but don’t value that personal protection?  Or, more generally, if you haven’t explored in some depth what it means to love yourself?

If you apply the Golden Rule without a sense of what it means to love yourself, the Golden Rule won’t do your neighbour much good, if they’re treated in a way that isn’t respectful of the self.

Or maybe you do love yourself and are totally game to treat others in the same way you honour yourself… but maybe it turns out that the way you honour yourself is not the way others would like to be honoured!  What happens if someone meant to treat you well according to their standard, but the effect on you was the opposite, since the way they’d like to be treated might not line up with how you’d like to be treated?

In fact, one the criticisms of the Golden Rule, is that it does not seem to take into account differences in personal and cultural expectations on what it means to treat your neighbour well.  So, what does it mean when these well-intentioned ethical guidelines still fail to treat others with the respect they need, even if followed to the letter?

There is one “metal” rule that Carl Sagan doesn’t mention, but which has gained popularity.  It is called the Platinum Rule – Do unto others as they would like to have done unto them.  This one could be seen as more noble than the Silver and Golden versions, in that it shifts the focus from our wants or needs, to those of the recipient.  In this way, it removes the risks of the Silver and Golden Rules, where the frame of reference is yourself, since you might happen to have different priorities than your neighbour.

One of my favourite aspects of the Platinum Rule is that it adds that extra dimension to the ethical dynamic.  Not only is it an imperative to do a positive action toward your neighbour – the kind of action they would like, in fact – but it raises the question: What does your neighbour want, or need?

The Platinum Rule, therefore adds a layer of relationship-building.  It invites you to explore the needs of your neighbour before acting towards them and potentially offering something that might well be detrimental – however well-intentioned you may have been – based on your own perception of your needs.

Nonetheless, the Platinum Rule runs a different risk than the other noble “metal” rules… it might minimize the layer of self-reflection that seeks to recognize self-love, by prioritizing your neighbour.  Adopting an ethical basis based purely on the Platinum Rule might not only risk losing sight of the importance of self-care – it could, by extension, open one up to extreme vulnerability of self-neglect and abuse by others.  And it wouldn’t necessarily benefit society as a whole – just because a neighbour wishes to be treated a certain way does not mean that it would be beneficial to your other neighbours, let alone yourself.

So where does this leave us?

The way I see it, the value of these rules lies less on a drive to live purely by any one of these rules, and rather, to wrestle with the questions they raise about how we value ourselves, how we value our neighbours, and how we value our community.

My friends, if we stay on our toes, and consider the questions and the considerations that these rules bring up, then we may well forge them into a sort of “Ethical Alloy”, that combines their mutual strengths into a more solid set of ethical guides.  Asking what it means to love ourselves, considering how others might love themselves, exploring the needs of our neighbour, and remembering, the wider community of neighbours, and how actions might affect them – these are helpful skills to nurture when building a community of right relations.

My friends, when we build Covenants in our communities, we are not looking to simply optimize our self-interest, nor are we looking solely to selflessly serve others at the expense of our own needs and fulfillment – we are rather seeking to build a community of exploration, of healing, of forgiveness and acceptance.  We seek to build a community where we can get to know our neighbours – where we can get to appreciate and value our neighbours… and where they can get to know and appreciate us.  We seek to build a community where love is our guide – love for ourselves, love for others, and love for the interdependent web of which we are all part.

So may it be,
In Solidarity,

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Closing Hymn #140 Hail the Glorious Golden City
W: Felix dler, 1851-1933
M: Rowland Hugh Prichard, 1811-1887

Tune “Hyfrydol” interpreted on mountain dulcimer by Gwen Caeli

1 Hail the glorious golden city, pictured by the seers of old:
everlasting light shines o’er it, wondrous things of it are told.
Wise and righteous men and women dwell within its gleaming wall;
wrong is banished from its borders, justice reigns supreme o’er all.

2 We are builders of that city. All our joys and all our groans
help to rear its shining ramparts; all our lives are building-stones.
Whether humble or exalted, all are called to task divine;
all must aid alike to carry forward one sublime design.

3 And the work that we have builded, oft with bleeding hands and tears,
oft in error, oft in anguish, will not perish with our years:
it will live and shine transfigured in the final reign of right:
it will pass into the splendors of the city of the light.

TIA (Thanks in Advance)

October 11th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #67 We Sing Now Together
~)-| Words: Edwin T. Buehrer, 1894-1969, alt © UUA
Music: Adrian Valerius’s Netherlandtsch Gedenckclanck, 1626,
arr. by Edward Kremser, 1838-1914

Tune Kremser interpreted by organpipe8 (Lance)

Time for All Ages – Thanks a Lot – by Raffi

Presented by the Raffi Foundation for Child Honoring, with collaboration from Teacher Erin Clarke and the children of classroom 9

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

This week we hold in mind the people of the Caribbean, Mexico, the United States, and all across North America, who have been affected by Hurricane Delta. Named after the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, Delta represents an abnormal number of named storms in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

We also acknowledge that in the United States, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, on October 12, is getting wider recognition, in an effort to bring awareness of the realities of colonialism. Canada also has a National Indigenous Peoples’ Day on June 21, and other countries recognize Indigenous Peoples at other times of the year, which allow us to remember the history, the present, and the presence of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world, and throughout the year.

Holding the realities of the world, we also recognize the value in giving witness to the joys and the sorrows that are present in our personal lives.  To recognize, commemorate, and celebrate special moments, or landmarks in our lives.

Meditation Hymn #68 Come, Ye Thankful People – Karen Miller
Words: Henry Alford. 1810-1871
Music: George Job Elvey, 1816-1893

Interpreted by Karen Miller

Hymn #277 When We Wend Homeward
Words: Psalm 126
Music: American folk melody, arr. by Annabel Morris Buchanan, 1889-1983, © 1938, renewed 1966 J. Fischer & Bros. Co., harmony by Charles H. Webb, 1933- , © 1989 J. Fischer & Bros. Co.

Interpreted by Bobby Horton, from the soundtrack to “National Parks”

1 When we wend homeward to our land,
like dreamers we shall be;
like leaping rivers in the spring
we’ll joyful be and free!

2 For though our sowing work is hard,
and tears do freely flow,
on harvest day we’ll shoulder sheaves,
our hearts will overflow!

Sermon – TIA (Thanks in Advance) – Rev. Rod


Read: [Downloadable print-ready PDF available]

As we’ve gotten more familiar with different technologies over the past few months, I’m also introducing some of the internet lingo that we sometimes come across while using online media.  A lot of this techie language tends to use abbreviations – shorthand ways to express common and significant phrases.  So, this year, I am peppering these condensed expressions in the titles of my sermons.  Last month, I talked about FWIW, meaning For What it’s Worth.  Today, I want to talk about the expression TIA.

Now, the alphabet soup of medicine, and the alphabet soup of correspondence and internet-speak, can have overlapping abbreviations that mean different things.  Some of you, or someone you know, may have already had experience with something called a TIA – a Transcient Ischemic Attack, sometimes known as “mini-strokes”, which would not have been a pleasant experience.  Today, I’m talking about a different, and more affirming, kind of TIA – the note that means thanks in advance.

This is something you might tag on at the end of an e-mail or text message, to assure your correspondent that you are grateful for what they can offer – even if it hasn’t been done yet.

This, is a pre-emptive form of gratitude, that is banking on the faith that, even when considering the fog of the future, someone will deliver… or do their best to make good on their intentions for your sake.

Now, it might sometimes seem like the default way of practicing gratitude is… retrospective – giving thanks for something that has been done for us, or that we have received, or that we’ve benefitted from – in the past.

Sometimes, the gratitude feels a bit more immediate, by acknowledging something that’s there for us now.  A common theme on this Thanksgiving holiday is the harvest time, naming the good fortune many of us have, to enjoy the yields of the earth and the wonder of nature.  Sometimes we recognize the work and life of animals that may be involved in our nourishment.  And we also recognize the work and dedication of all the people involved in producing these gifts and getting them to us – some of you are involved in doing this very work.

We do these acts of thanksgiving with good reason, to build reciprocity in community, to remember that which is there for us… even when we might sometimes forget, and to recognize the interdependent web of which we are part.

And the neat thing is that this interdependent web goes beyond space, as it also transcends time.  Certainly, we look at the past, but sometimes, we can look at the sources of gratitude that we foresee in the future.

Over the past six months, there has been greater social consciousness about the value of the work performed by what we call essential workers – and this category is often quite expansive, reminding us that we rely on each other more than we might typically think.  Most often, foremost in our minds are medical and health professionals, care workers, labourers along the chain of supply, as well as school and childcare services… though this list will immediately seem terribly inadequate to truly reflect the interdependent web that allows for our society to function.

And as we think about the coming weeks and months, we think about the work that still needs to be done to move us beyond the current realities of the pandemic.  One place where expectations are high is in the case of a vaccine.  And even though we don’t have one yet, we can be grateful now for the work that is already being carried out toward that goal.  We can give thanks in advance, because even though we don’t know when it will happen – and at times we might even be uncertain if it will happen – we still have faith that the people involved will deliver all they have to give toward that target.

And that’s what giving thanks in advance is about, my friends.  It’s an expression of faith in others, in their intentions toward us, and in their abilities.  It’s an expression of hope, that we may look forward to yet another opportunity to be grateful.  It’s an expression of love, for those who share this reciprocal, interrelated web with us.  It is as transcendent virtuous cycle that goes beyond space and time.

My friends, as we approach the “bookend” anniversaries of the Church of Olinda, recognizing 140 years since the founding of our church, in November, and 140 years since the construction of our church building, in September, we are doing all these kinds of acts of thanksgiving, my friends.

We are paying homage to the past, to the founders of the church, and the people who helped to build its community and its physical home.  We are giving regard, in gratitude, for the community we have now, eager to celebrate together what is there for us to share, and for the new and various ways that we can be church together, even while apart.  And we also express hope for the future of our church, seeing a vision of what it can be, and how we might do it.

My friends, we are giving thanks in advance for the work we do now, that we may enjoy the yields in days, weeks, months, and years to come; and that we may be gratified that others may also benefit from this, sometimes in unexpected ways.

And for this we may be grateful, in anticipation.

So may it be,
In Gratitude and Solidarity,

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Closing Hymn #1010 We Give Thanks
~)-| Words & Music: Wendy Luella Perkins, 1966- © 2004 Wendy Luella Perkins
arr. Susan Peck, 1960-

Interpreted by the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Choir

250 Years of Universalist Heritage and its Meaning for Our Time (4 October, 2020)

October 11th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

First Universalist Church of Minneapolis

Members of the UU Church of Olinda were guests at this live online service.

Watch full service:

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