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.


Wuthering – The Sudden Obliteration of Expectation

April 5th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #146 Soon the Day Will Arrive (interpreted by the Chancel Choir of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland)
Words: Ehud Manor
Music: Nurit Hirsh
(tune Bashanah)

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

In these days of uncertainty, we make space to recognize all who are affected by COVID-19, and we remember all who have died in the course of this pandemic.

We give thanks to all people who are giving more of themselves at this time – some by duty, some by obligation, some by personal conviction and compassion – including health professionals, grocery store clerks, utility workers, and all essential staff too many to know and who are often unseen or unacknowledged.

We also remain mindful of our own personal Joys & Sorrows, recognizing that our personal experience is worthy of space amid the larger story of the global community.

Reflection Song – Bobcaygeon – The Tragically Hip (Official Video)
© 1998 Universal Music Canada

Video Reading – “The Sudden Obliteration of Expectation” – Hank Green in vlogbrothers – 20 March, 2020

Since 2007, the brothers Hank and John Green have been communicating with each other long-distance via YouTube. Each week, they post a message to each other – Hank posts on Fridays, and John posts on Tuesdays. They make their posts public, often speaking to the wider audience of the world wide web.

These video web logs, or vlogs, have made their channel – the vlogbrothers – one of the most longstanding and influential channels on YouTube.

Hymn #151 I Wish I Knew How (interpreted by Nina Simone)
Words & Music: Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas
~)-| arr. by Mary Allen Walden, 1946-1997, © 1992 UUA
(tune Mandela)

Sermon – Wuthering – Rev. Rod ESQ

In his vlog for March 20, 2020, Hank Green tells his brother – and his wider internet audience – about his experience in finding out that he has ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disorder in which his body attacks the lining of his large intestine, causing severe pain, and potentially leading to other consequences, like the possibility that he might need to have his colon removed, or having a greater risk of cancer.

While his diagnosis of ulcerative colitis allowed for some clarity on next steps for his health care, it left many unknowns… he really didn’t know what kind of consequences this illness would lead to – or when. Moreover, he began to realize that many of his expectations about his future – the story he told himself about his future – were now irrevocably changed.

Some of these expectations, he explains, were ones he wasn’t even aware that he had, such as the expectation that he could eat popcorn whenever he wanted throughout his life. Popcorn is no longer an option for him, and without knowing that this was even something he expected, the option of popcorn was lost forever.

One way that Hank describes this is as “the sudden obliteration of expectation” and the emptiness that can follow when these expectations disappear, without something firmer to take their place, other than the knowledge that the future will never be the same.

In looking for a word that could signify this feeling, a friend of his suggested wuthering, which the author Emily Brontë describes as an “atmospheric tumult” in her novel Wuthering Heights. Hank Green suggests that the word wuthering could well be used more broadly to denote a sense of uncertainty – and, more specifically, the kind of uncertainty that comes with a realization that our previous expectations no longer seem realistic, and that things will never be the same again.

It may well be that Hank’s use of wuthering, in this sense, will never gain currency in everyday language, but in exploring it as one way to describe that sense of loss and uncertainty, he reveals a very telling common experience in our humanity.

My friends, many of you are familiar with this feeling.

It might have come with the death of a loved one, or another kind of loss, like a breakup or someone moving away. It might come with the loss of a job, or it might be part of a change in health, be it due to an accident, an illness, or aging.

These days, many of us are experiencing it together, as we figure out – in a global scale – what the current pandemic means… now and in the future. We expect that things will get better, but we don’t really know when. And when they do, they will never be the same.

It can be hard to contemplate this new reality.

The story we’ve told ourselves about our future seems to vanish – at least for the time being – and we’re realizing that we’ve had certain expectations from everyday life, which are now rare, such as buying groceries whenever we see fit, or finding what we’re looking for at the store, taking vacations, or traveling, or simply greeting each other with a handshake or a hug.

Things like sharing a common space in our church building, in the presence of our community of faith, are no longer part of our week – and we don’t really know when that will be possible again. There are other people we’d hope to see in person, and it may now be that we won’t see them for a long time. In some cases, we might never see them again.

These things are gone from our lives for the time being, and while most of these will return, we will not look at these parts of our lives in the same way again, knowing that they are much less certain than we’ve come to expect.

The absence of these things, and their eventual – yet precarious – return will become a new normal. In the meantime, we are also adjusting to the new normal of remote and virtual meetings, and connecting from afar with different methods and technologies.

It is not the same, yet we are learning to adapt to these alternatives, and they are becoming increasingly normal.

My friends, together we are weathering the storm, the atmospheric tumult, of a collective wuthering. This new reality is becoming part of our story about our present and our future. This new story will shape our lives from now on, as our expectations shift and adjust toward a different sense of normalcy.

Not all of these new expectations will represent loss – we may in fact expect more and newer opportunities. We might expect more about preparedness for pandemics, and also for making our health care system more robust altogether. We might expect a deeper awareness of all who face economic uncertainty, in our communities nearby and around the world, not just now, but also at other times.

In our community, one of the new expectations may well be the possibility to reach more folks from our community, and in ways we haven’t tried before. What we learn from this time will remain with us, and will become part of our new story.

My friends, our new stories will eventually help us fill the gap – the distance – that we might be feeling today. It will not be the same and it will be something new.

We may, my friends, even find a deeper sense of connection and a previously hidden wholeness.

In Solidarity, so may it be.

[Printer-ready version of Sermon available here]

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano Quesnel

Closing Hymn #1021 Lean on Me (interpreted by the late Bill Withers)
Words & Music: Bill Withers, 1938-2020 © 1972 Interior Music (BMI)

April 2020 Newsletter

March 29th, 2020 . by William Baylis

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Apart Together

March 29th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

[Download Interactive PDF version of this Sermon]

As we round a second week after the call to increase the physical distance between us, we are also called to recall the links we already have that keep us together – even when we are apart. And we are called to find new ways to maintain – and deepen – those links.

Throughout the world, people are finding ways of staying together through the physical distancing recommendations by global health agencies and civil leaders. Amid the challenges these requirements bring, folks are exploring how we might support each other, encourage each other, bring the warmth of community from six feet away – or a continent apart.

And we cannot forget the harsh reality that these requirements represent…

Staying apart, staying away, staying at home. These are not easy tasks for many of us.

And these are even harder tasks for folks who are already vulnerable when economic uncertainty was already a reality, when staying away may mean critical time apart from loved ones, when home may not be safe, or when there is no home to stay at.

These are impossible asks for those who are required to offer us essential services, like healthcare professionals, grocery store employees, chain-of-supply labourers, utility workers, and many more who we depend on – without even realizing it. The list of essential services in Ontario outlines over 74 kinds of workplaces that may remain open while many of us are asked to remain apart. And despite the challenge, they are still responding to that ask.

This is more the reason why those of us who can, are called to work in solidarity with all who cannot, or may not. So that we may contribute to minimizing not only our risk – but also minimizing the risk to those who must face that risk, now and in days to come.

This pandemic has reminded us that the people we depend on are many and more varied than we often recognize, and that they are often unseen or underappreciated.

This pandemic has reminded us of the reality that the world is more closely tied than we have realized before. And this can bring a whole deal of wonder and admiration for what we can do for each other, as well as clarity about the fact that we really do depend on each other – be it for resources, services, or support.

This reality also amplifies the liabilities that come when what touches one affects us all. And the reality that quick transmission of disease is also easier than before.

My friends, at a time when transportation technology has made it easier than ever to physically come together, it has also become easier than ever to virtually come together, while staying physically apart.

This is a reality in which the greatest liabilities of our interconnectedness invite us to use our greatest assets for connecting.

A reality that, by being apart, we are working together.

When we’ve lit our chalice during our in-person services, we have repeated the words – as the wick joins the flame to the candle may our separate selves be joined in one community of warmth and light.

We can still join our separate selves in one community of warmth and light. It won’t be the same, and we look forward to a time when many of us can meet in person as well. And during this time, we can also explore how some alternatives can bring us closer together.

Already in the past few weeks, we have expanded how often we connect remotely, and by which means we can do so. From telephone conversations with friends, family, or fellow congregants, to more frequent mail post, to videoconferencing options that are becoming available to us.

In these ways, we may keep the rituals of mutual care alive. We may tell each other our sorrows and our joys. We may reflect upon what is important to us and the values of our faith, which calls us to remember that love is a more positive force for good than fear.

And during this time, some of us may even have opportunities to step back from other aspects of our lives and contemplate those other dimensions of our lives and homes that are often swept aside. To come in closer relationship with ourselves.

My friends, to everything there is a season. There is a time to take acceptable risks, and a time to play it safe. A time to do work, out in the community, and a time to work on our community, at home. A time to gather together, and a time to wave at each other from afar.

My friends this is a time to play it safe, a time to work on our community at home, a time to wave at each other from afar.

In Solidarity, so may it be.

Suggested hymns:

108 My Life Flows On in Endless Song (interpreted by The Chancel Choir of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA – Edited by AMIKEMA)

157 Step by Step the Longest March (directed by Matt Meyer)

Solidarity – It’s in Your Hands!

March 22nd, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

[Download Interactive PDF version of this sermon]

Last week, I spoke about the home cook who offers surprisingly simple approaches to cooking at home. His “shocking” secret was to simply cook in a way that you enjoy, is accessible and practical to you, and tastes good to you and those around you. In making soup, one way to do that is to simply put whatever you have around in water… and boil it. That was the secret… the “shocking” secret.

There are other “shockingly” simple techniques… practices, that can have surprisingly effective results.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was a 19th century obstetrician who made a peculiar observation at the Viennese hospital that he supervised – in the hospital’s two maternity clinics, there were two drastically different mortality rates for childbed fever.

In the first clinic, medical students often oversaw births after carrying out autopsies on corpses – and it had a mortality rate around 10%, while in the second clinic, midwives would carry out births without any involvement with cadavers – childbed fever fatalities were around 1%.

After accounting for other factors, and finding other corroborating facts, he concluded that some kind of infection was being brought in through the handling of corpses. And since chlorinated lime water helped in eliminating the deathly smell, he suggested washing hands with a solution of chlorinated lime.

Deaths from childbed fever declined to nearly zero.

Dr. Semmelweis found that the most effective solution to saving lives was simple – cleanliness.

He couldn’t explain exactly why… he was still lacking a theoretical explanation – but the data was very clear. And its implementation was effective.

Semmelweis’ observations, explanation, and method, were not easily accepted – despite the hard data that backed it up. The reasons are complicated, and have been attributed to psychological tendencies, as well as social, and political. There may have also been interpersonal disputes between Semmelweis and his colleagues – it’s complicated. However, it is a matter of record that he was often mocked by some of his colleagues, some of whom took offence at the suggestion that they needed to wash their hands, despite their gentlemanly status.

My friends, we’re at a time when we’re faced with several trying weeks, due to a complex health emergency, that is further complicated by economic and political factors.

Along this difficult problem, we’re have been empowered by a deceptively simple solution – handwashing.

And now we have also been asked a similarly simple – yet sometimes more difficult – request: staying away from each other. This is not comfortable for many of us. We are social creatures that thrive on contact with others, our very worship practices are often based on meeting up, and for some of us, isolation may in fact put at risk our livelihoods – or those of people we know. And yet social distancing, along with handwashing are the most powerful tools we have in saving the lives of many of our neighbours, including members of our community.

That outcome is in our hands.

And while social distancing can have many difficult side-effects, the other tool we have – handwashing – requires very little of us beyond water, soap, and some intentionality.

Whatever your life situation allows, handwashing is a disease-fighting superpower that is entirely in your hands.

The power to stop COVID-19 is in your hands.

And it doesn’t stop there. Because handwashing can prevent a whole diversity of diseases – including the common cold and the seasonal flu, as well as other common infections. For many of these, we don’t even need the chlorinated lime solution proposed by Dr. Semmelweis – soap and water does just fine. It is a good practice to have – even during times that feel more normal.

This power is in our hands.

We are being called to use this power – not only for our personal sake – but for the sake of all who surround us… for what touches one affects us all. And even those of us for whom the odds seem favourable have a responsibility of solidarity to all who we may affect – near and far – and who may be much more vulnerable.

My friends, in being mindful to curbing the spread of disease – be it COVID-19 or any other easily transmissible virus – we are acting in solidarity with health providers in Canada and around the world, we are acting in solidarity with other essential personnel, like grocery store, and we are acting in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us.

In Solidarity, so may it be.

Suggested hymns:

188 Come, Come, Whoever You Are – Sing this twice while washing hands!

134 Our World Is One World

18 What Wondrous Love

1002 Comfort Me

The Shocking Secret (March 15, 2020)

March 21st, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Some recipes invoke a certain degree of orthodoxy, but a home cook affirms that it doesn’t have to be that way.  And whether making a meal, or bringing together a community of faith, following the recipe that works best for you has its advantages.

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 for the next few Sundays. They will be replaced by new online materials and, as possible, 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)
Apr. 5 Rev. Rod ESQ PUBLIC SERVICE CANCELLED! Wuthering –  – when expectations suddenly change, a new way of thinking about the future can emerge. Baylis-Stone Trio
Apr. 12 Rev. Rod ESQ We Have the Technology! –  since before the internet, the telephone and telegraph allowed fast communication over vast distances.  Even post mail can bring people together around the world.  Whether lo- or hi-tech, connection prevails. Virtual Service with Zoom
Apr. 19 Bill Baylis The Overview Effect –  a profound experience often reported when Earth is seen from space. Virtual Service with Zoom
Apr. 26 Rev. Rod ESQ Essential –  the tricky question of what meets our most basic needs leads to the deeper question of what those needs are. Virtual Service with Zoom
May 3 Rev. Rod ESQ Hold –  In times of uncertainty, it is difficult to stay still… and yet, the wisdom of practices such as meditation is that we can sometimes do a whole lot
when we do less.
Virtual Service with Zoom
May 10 Rev. Rod ESQ The Time to Plant a Tree –  – Today, we benefit from the fruits of seeds that were planted before us – by parents, ancestors, founders. This opens much room for reflection… and opens up
the question – what can we plant today?
Virtual Service with Zoom
May 17 Rev. Norm Horofker Cross-Canada Sunday Service –  The host congregation for our national Conference, the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, presents a live worship service for all of us across Canada. It spans several time zones, and we’ll be able to join at 12:30PM our time (Eastern). Join us on Zoom. Virtual Service with Zoom at 12:30 PM
May 24 Rev. Rod ESQ The Special Time –   Different times in history have been remembered by memorable names… sometimes, they only tell part of the story – other times, they tell many stories at once.
Virtual Service with Zoom
May 31 Neil Buhne Today’s Interconnected World –   discussing what is currently shared in the world in many ways – using examples from Asia and linking those to experience from Canada and elsewhere..
Virtual Service with Zoom
June 7 Rev. Rod ESQ For Your Service –  Our Church has always existed upon the foundation of shared service.  This tradition of mutual ministry continues into new spaces, as we recognize that each contribution is vital in upholding our interwoven web. Virtual Service with Zoom
June 14 Rev. Rod ESQ Parallel Timelines –  
Sometimes the reality we live in looks different than the one we had in mind.  The space in between these realities can bring about a range of emotions, and how we bridge the two can help us be better together in space and time.
Virtual Service with Zoom
June 21 Rev. Rod ESQ Thank You for the Music (Flower Ceremony) –  The value of beauty, wherever it may be, and however it may appear, includes the power to offer comfort, gratitude, and inspiration.  Rather than a frivolous frill, an appreciation for the beauty around us can be the key to a more deeply meaningful life.  We can celebrate this power in our yearly Flower Ceremony.  (Send pictures of flowers by June 15, to share at our service!)
Virtual Service with Zoom
June 28 Daniel Blaikie, MP for Elmwood-Transcona, MB Annual Howard Pawley service: The transformative Impact of the Coronavirus –   a Canadian Perspective on Desirable Socio-Economic Changes
Virtual Service with Zoom
July 26 24 tba TBA- Virtual Service with Zoom

March 2020 Newsletter

February 29th, 2020 . by William Baylis

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January 2020 Newsletter

January 5th, 2020 . by William Baylis

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December 2019 Newsletter

November 23rd, 2019 . by William Baylis

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November 2019 Newsletter

October 26th, 2019 . by William Baylis

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