United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.
Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.
Catherine Gordon's October 2017 feature for The Observer, 'A tale of two cancers,' recently caught the eye of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and his Washington, D.C.-based team, and inspired a short documentary. Gordon talks about the experience of writing the article and participating in the film.
Last century was the most violent in history, with more than 203 million killed in wars — more than all the preceding centuries combined. In today's armed conflicts, more than 90 percent of casualties are civilians — half of which are children.
Sheima Benembarek was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Morocco and moved to Canada in 2005. In 2015, she relocated to Toronto. At first, the city seemed so much bigger, impersonal — and even threatening — until a fateful encounter in the subway one day.
For nearly half a century, the Elnabrees family has fled one war after another: Palestine, Kuwait, Iraq and, more recently, Syria. This year, they arrived as refugees in Canada, sponsored by relatives and United churches. Ayman Elshafiy, his wife, Sonia, their two daughters, his sister and mother, were among them.
In August 2014, the world watched as a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, exploded in outrage over the police shooting of an 18-year-old. In her own words, St. Louis-based writer Alicia von Stamwitz describes the tragedy and its aftermath.
After some soul-searching about what buying really adds up to, UC Observer blogger Lee Simpson made a promise to purchase nothing for 365 days. But while her reasons were clear, the vow to change was a little more complicated.
As institutions close their doors, people with developmental disabilities are finding new independence in community living. But as Chris Stafford and his mother, Andrea, recently discovered, the demand for supportive housing options far outstrips the supply.
Last fall, The Observer reported on Canada's Out of the Cold programs, which shelter untold thousands every winter. The magazine recently returned to Waterloo, Ont.'s First United Church and found a continued need.
Later this month, General Council commissioners will choose the United Church’s next moderator. As of press time, 10 leadership hopefuls had been announced. We asked each of them to sum up their pitch in a tweet.
Founded in 1829, The United Church Observer is the oldest continuously published magazine in North America and the second oldest in the English speaking world. It has won international acclaim for journalistic excellence and garnered more awards for writing than any other Canadian religious publication. Read more...
Editor/Publisher: Jocelyn Bell
Managing Editor (Print and digital): Kristy Woudstra