Unitarian Lay Chaplains


          Russell McNeil

Dr. Russell McNeil

Dr. Russell McNeil

Russell McNeil is a Research Associate and Elder College Instructor at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. He is also active as a fitness and yoga instructor. His book, “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained” offers a radical and contemporary interpretation of Stoicism through the lens of modern science – an interest he maintains in his current research on the implications of modern physics on Stoic philosophy, and in interpretations of the Gospels. The strong parallells between the fundamental tenets of Stoic philosophy and the principles of Unitarianism play an important role is Russell’s interest in lay Chaplaincy.

Russell was educated as a physicist and taught both Physics and Liberal Studies at universities in Canada and the US for over 20 years. A Lidar (laser radar) application he pioneered in 1972 as a PhD student at York University, was subsequently fine-tuned into the modern day technology on NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander which successfully completed a mission to the Martian surface in 2009. He has also worked as a television producer and writer in Canada and for PBS in the US where he produced the 1978 documentary “Nevada Fallout: The Hot Years” examining the impacts of Atmospheric nuclear weapons testing on the residents of Nevada and Utah.

Russell can be reached at laychaplainrussell@shaw.ca

Services Provided by Our Lay Chaplains


Take the concern and the uncertainty out of planning your wedding service.

Lay Chaplains are licensed to marry you by the Province of British Columbia, and will work with you to create a ceremony that fits your needs and dreams. They will provide you with many choices of elements for your ceremony, including spiritual elements. They encourage the participation of friends and family at various stages of the service, if that is your desire. They can also incorporate traditions and customs from various religions, faiths and cultures into your service, if that is your desire.

Our Lay Chaplain is very happy to perform weddings for any two people who wish to dedicate themselves to each other – this includes same-gender couples. Our goal is to co-create a ceremony that expresses your deepest intentions as individuals and as a couple.

Child or Baby Naming

Share the miracle of your child’s life in a meaningful ceremony.

The birth of a child is a gift of life, which is often expressed in the name your child will be given.
Our Lay Chaplain will work with you to create a service that speaks to the commitment of the significant people in your child’s life.


Honour your loved one in a service that is true to your beliefs.

Saying good-bye to a loved one is always a very stressful time.
Our Lay Chaplain offers compassionate support and experience in planning a memorial service that is meaningful for the participants.

Other Rites of Passage

Create ceremonies recognizing significant life passages.

Our Lay Chaplain is willing to work with individuals and families to create a memorable service for events such as reaffirming vows, dissolution of a relationship, coming of age, loss of a pet, graduation, new home blessings or retirement.

Please contact us if you have any inquiries about our services. We will respond quickly.