West Hill is a people, a place, and an idea. We are a community living out a progressive faith, striving to make a positive difference in our own lives, the lives of others, and the world.

Our mission:

Moved by a reverence for life to pursue justice for all, we inspire one another to seek truth, live fully, care deeply and make a difference.

Over the past many months, we've been challenged to engage broadly about who we are and what we see the future of church can be. We'd be delighted to talk with you about it and have extended an invitation to congregations across the country to reach out if they are interested in having a conversation with us. It can be about what this "theologically non-exclusive" church is really like. It might be about the rise of the "Nones" and how we are engaging them. You might want to just talk about the review of our minister. Whatever your interest, we will find a way to engage. So be in touch and let's set a date. 

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Conflict: You've got it; we've got it; they've GOT it.

Last week, gretta began a series based on next year's Lenten lectionary readings. The theme has been dispute and conflict and she's helped us, with the assistance of the Oxford English Dictionary and TED, differentiate between the two and explore some models for working through them. 

She has used a number of resources on the web and we wanted to make them available to you.

The first was the Ladder of Inference. Here's the picture gretta created for the gathering. You'll find more information about the Ladder of Inference here and much more is available on the web.

Basically, what the ladder teaches us is that we tend to interpret reality in ways that may or may not be helpful, stepping away from the raw facts and finding ourselves acting in ways that may or may not reflect what the reality of any situation was. Very quickly, we assume certain facts are more important than others, selecting them to hold a prominence they may not have had. Once we do that, it is easy for us to interpret those facts and create assumptions based upon them. Gretta noted that the ladder, to this point, is helpful in resolving disputes, arguments of perspective that are usually about facts that can be examined. Above that, when we get to establishing beliefs, we're into conflict, differences of opinion based on values, culture, relationships, and religious beliefs. Its a comfortable place to be and so loops us back, over and again, into the selection and interpretation of reality. Changing our beliefs is like changing our worldview; it's a hard learn when it comes to us. So conflicts may often be long and arduous because they are undertaken at the level of our worldviews. 

Here are the TED talks that animated this week's Perspective(s). And the page for Abraham's Path, an initiative created by William to address the systemic conflicts in the Middle East. Enjoy!

Clair Canfleld's address on The Beauty of Conflict. 

ChrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke. Conflict: Use it; don't Diffuse it.

William Ury. The Walk from "No" to "Yes"


Dream Away: Palm Sunday and Easter Re-Imagined

Each year, West Hill's community gathers, along with all churches in the west (Eastern churches recognize other dates), to explore the great themes of death and resurrection. We don't, however, focus on a death and resurrection that took place two millennia ago. Rather, we explore these themes as they are relevant right now in our world, our relationships, and our lives. 

In a theologically barrier-free community, there will be those for whom the traditional Easter story has deep meaning and there will be those for whom the story seems anachronistic - completely irrational when viewed from a 21st century perspective. And so it is important to honour the tradition while doing so in language, metaphor, and symbol that can be interpreted by anyone to be meaningful regardless what worldview through which they are experiencing it. That's one of the things that West Hill does and struggles to do with more integrity each year. 

Join us at 10:30 on the mornings of April 9th and 15th as we reach deep into the complexities and challenges that resonate with an ancient story but face us at this moment in time and seek within them the beauty of possibility and hope. 


If you want dialogue ...

Since early May, 2015, West Hill United Church has been wanting to talk. That’s when Toronto
Conference’s sub-Executive Committee met and decided to review our minister, Gretta Vosper, for
her effectiveness. We wanted to talk with them about how that review came about. We wanted to
talk with our Presbytery about why our perspective wasn’t being considered. We wanted to talk with
the congregation whose letter had been used to trigger our minister’s review. We wanted to talk.
Almost everywhere we turned, we met with silence or dismissal. We reached out to Metropolitan
United Church to invite them to a conversation, with dessert and coffee, but they didn’t get back to
us. We started an online petition asking that we be heard in the review and gathered 343 signatures
within days, 270 of which included comments. (These comments rested on the table at Gretta’s
interview, brought there by Randy Bowes, the Chair of West Hill, who accompanied Gretta as her
silent support person.) We presented an affidavit to the appeal of the General Secretary’s ruling
which had allowed Gretta’s review and argued that, since we were in covenant with her, the
process, which excluded us, was not within United Church polity. Our concerns were dismissed. The
submission included pages of letters we had received both in favour of defrocking Gretta and
opposed to the process that would allow defrocking. The response of the General Council’s counsel
suggested that the letters had not been thoroughly read. We sought the wisdom of the Presbytery
about a plan to invite all presbyters to West Hill for an evening of conversation and were told that
wouldn’t be a good idea. So we reached out to the Congregational Health Team (CHT) instead and
welcomed four of its members to a lively conversation one evening in May, 2016, only to watch the
CHT share their work at the next Presbytery meeting without even telling presbyters they had met with
us. There is no record of our conversation in their official minutes. We approached Toronto
Conference and asked if we could book a room at its Annual Meeting, as other congregations do, to
engage with any who wished to come and speak with us about our ministry, ask us questions, or tell
us how they feel. We were denied. We asked if we could put some pamphlets on Conference tables
and Conference directed us not to. So fifty of us showed up at the meeting anyway, engaging only
individuals who approached us. Even limiting ourselves in that way, we still had some amazing,
“unofficial” conversations! We asked that our Chair, Randy Bowes, be permitted to speak at the
meeting of the Ministry Personnel Review Committee last June when Gretta was interviewed by
them. Our request was denied even though Ministry Personnel Review procedures require the
committee to hear anyone the Ministry Personnel wants it to hear.
After all this official silence, we were invited to make a fifteen-minute presentation to the Toronto
Conference sub-Executive which, according to media reports, had the potential to turn the entire
situation around. Our compiled congregational statements failed to sway the sub-Executive. We
invited Presbytery Executive to meet with us at their premises in November and that has yet to be
arranged. We want to talk.
We have learned over these many months and so many official rejections, however, that United
Church people want to talk. Shortly after the review was ordered, two conferences, Hamilton and
Toronto, voted overwhelmingly in favour of proposals asking the 42nd General Council, meeting that
summer in Cornerbrook, to launch a discussion about the questions of ordination to ensure they were
relevant and could be used for the purposes to which they were being put. Toronto’s proposal was
defeated by fifty-one percent. Forty-three percent of General Council Commissioners voted to have
that conversation but when Hamilton’s proposal hit the table at the General Council Executive
meeting in April 2016, despite the chair of the Theology, Inter-Church, and Interfaith Committee
asking, at the GCE’s previous meeting, to do the work, the GCE declined to listen to the request of
almost half its Commissioners to hold a conversation. Following the Ministry Personnel Review
Committee finding that Gretta was unsuitable to be a minister in the UCC, over thirteen hundred
people signed a petition initiated by Southminster-Steinhauer United Church in Edmonton, urging the
sub-Executive of Toronto Conference to reject that finding. Over seven hundred people who signed
the petition added passionate comments, mostly about concerns regarding the process. Over two
dozen clergy from Maritime Conference asked for a conversation across the church to take place
before any decision be taken regarding our minister. General Council staff stated that such a
conversation was out of order. One of those signatories subsequently placed her own name on the
Discontinued Service List as an act of solidarity and protest. Twelve clergy from Edmonton also asked
for a stay in the proceedings and a conversation across the church; they received the same
negative response. Wascana Presbytery sent a proposal through Saskatchewan Conference, with
the latter’s approval, asking the General Council Executive to stay the proceedings to allow for a
conversation about theology to take place across the Church. The GCE, after General Council Staff
argued that it would be too problematic for the General Council Executive to overturn a decision
made by its sub-Executive – a committee that is accountable to it – voted not to change course.
Immediately, another motion was put on the floor of the same meeting asking that a wide
consultation be struck regarding the General Secretary’s ruling and its “denominational-shaping”
influence, the result of which would be discussed at the 43rd General Council meeting to be held in
2018. That motion was also defeated.
We want to talk. You want to talk. The official church doesn’t want to talk. So, let’s get together
without them.
Throughout 2017, West Hill United is committed to having conversations with you. About the review
process, beliefs, doctrine, church beyond theological barriers, non-exclusive language – or anything
else. Whether you invite us to join you where you are or engage us in a virtual coffee hour, we know
this conversation needs to happen and we’re willing to make it happen. We believe The United
Church of Canada will be better for it. Ask us. We’re ready to talk. In fact, we’re more than ready.
To arrange for a conversation with members of West Hill United Church, contact Annie DiPede at
westhillunited@gmail.com. Conversations already in the works: Victoria, BC, January 26, 2017.
Edmonton, September, 2017. Fredericton. Montreal.

Second Harvest Soup Luncheon - March 5th, 2017

Save the date!

West hill has a tradition of supporting Second Harvest, a group that rescues surplus food to create meals for those in need.

Let's help bridge the gap between surplus food and hungry people. Our outreach committee will host our annual soup lunch on March 5th and we hope you’ll join us.

Enjoy homemade soup and fresh bread.

For every $10 we raise, WHU can help Second Harvest to provide 20 meals for the hungry.

A Little Goes a Long Way!

Each month, over 100,000 hungry Torontonians depend on Second Harvest for healthy meals.
We are very glad to once again offer support though participation in the HERO campaign, raising money that will prvide 2 meals for every $1 raised.
Join the Outreach Committee for our Annual Bread and Soup Luncheon on March 6th.

Food Rescue & Delivery

The Food Rescue & Delivery Program is the core of Second Harvest's work. With seven trucks and a van on the road, it connects excess food with those in need. The program runs seven days a week and provides food to its network of over 220 social service agencies. This year, Second Harvest's goal is to rescue and deliver 8.5 million pounds of food.

Harvest Kitchens

The Harvest Kitchens program trains adults and youth with barriers to employment in food preparation, while providing healthy, prepared meals to Torontonians in need through our agency network. 

Feeding Our Future

Feeding Our Future is a summer program that, in partnership with the Sodexo Foundation, feeds hungry kids in city camps. Last summer we delivered just under 39,000 lunches. 


2017 Winter Book Study

Our title for winter 2017 is "Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind."
by Yuval Noah Harari.

For over twenty-five years, between January and May of each year, on alternating Friday evenings, a group of enthusiastic learners has gathered in the lounge of West Hill United Church to uncover the kernels of wisdom found in that year's chosen book.  Because each book has had a provocative edge to it, the Book Study Group has been the crucible within which much of the theological shift that the congregation has seen over those twenty years has taken place.

 Participants are not always West Hill congregants and the Book Study is always open to new voices who are interested in respectfully engaging the many ways we are challenged to live radically ethical lives. Please do join us for an intriguing and animated discussion.  The book study takes place in the lounge at West Hill at 7:30 on alternating Fridays.  You don't need to have come to the first to still join us.  You can pop in mid-way through.  

Given the depth, complexity and richness of the chapters, and our limited time together, some may wish to continue conversations,  so we invite anyone interested in respectfully offering thoughts to engage with fellow readers.  We hope to post our facilitation questions and let you take it from there. Visit our blog HERE!


Respond Faithfully to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Decision 

[Photo: Mark Klotz, Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Despite opposition from Indigenous leaders, environmental groups, and community advocates, the government approved the Trans Mountain (Kinder Morgan) pipeline on November 29.

“We fail to see how Canada will be able to fulfill its fair share of carbon emission reductions under the [COP 21] Paris Agreement, as the Trans Mountain Pipeline increases emissions,” wrote Moderator Jordan Cantwell in a letter to the church.
Take Action today. Ask the Prime Minister how approving the Trans Mountain pipeline will fit with Canada’s commitments to emission reductions and reconciliation.


Women ROCK! Program

Once again, we are getting ready to set the stage for Women ROCK! 
In celebration of International Womens' Day, on March 8th, we would like to welcome the Women of West Hill to sing back-up with our favourite band  TRAINWRECK.


We are vere excited to be hosting an evening with Rick Miller's band, Train Wreck on April 11th. It is going to be an exciting night as we step into the band scene in our intimate venue and an exciting night for us as we welcome back friends Rick Miller and Stephanie Baptist!

But your role that night might amaze you even more! Consider what it would be like to be a back up singer for Train Wreck! Totally AWESOME! If you've ever flipped up your soup spoon or shampoo bottle when no one was around and rocked those songs we all so love. well, baby, it's time to come clean: you're a diva and you know it!

Led by Stephanie Baptist and her diva companions, you'll choose a favourite song from Train Wreck's incredible repertoire, learn the words and the oo-oo-aahs. get some choreography down, and polish your singing voice. Then, on the night of the concert, you'll be the back-up singer for your very special moment in the limelight. 

The facilitated Women Rock workshops are scheduled for Wednesday evenings in April Get those dates in your calendar now!

We're working to accommodate as many divas as possible so reserve your spot early by contacting the office.Costs for participation is $50/person; $20 for participants under 20. If the cost is prohibitive, please speak with gretta. Register by contacting the office.

Here are the official dates! 

April 5   - Introduction/ musical direction                          
April 12 - Choreography                                         
April 19 - Rehearsal                                               
April 26 - Optional rehearsal for duo/trio groups    
April 29 - sound check and SHOWTIME            
Consider how much fun it would be to grab a friend or two for a duo or trio!




Mindful Yoga Program at West Hill

This 6 week Vinyasa Yoga practice beautifully complements Mindfulness Training and is a great wellness booster: improving balance, flexibility and overall resilience.

This yoga practice is appropriate for beginners, intermediate, and advanced yogis alike.

Remember you are flexible enough, you are tall enough, you are slim enough, you are good enough...YOU ARE ENOUGH!

Adult classes offered weekly Saturday mornings 10am-11am, February 4th - March 11th

$35 for the 6 week program


Children’s 1/2 hour Mindful Yoga class

Saturday mornings 9 am

$35 for the 7 week program




Inspired by Hollywood Service Series


The Longest Night Service

Over the millennia, we have learned to gather together in community to share resources, find protection, increase confidence, hang on to courage. Especially at difficult and dangerous times, turning to one another for support, affirmation, and encouragement is as natural as instinct; we do it intuitively.

Long before recorded time, the power of nature reigned supreme. It birthed us into being, nurtured and sustained us, sent us reeling with its often catastrophic indifference. And as the sun slipped beneath the horizon in the winter sky, our bewilderment must have turned toward despair.


Our attachment to light is primal. We need it. Indeed, we crave it. Our lives could not be nourished without it. And so, even when we can rationally understand the physics of a leaving and returning sun, we find within the cosmic cycles a metaphor for much within our lives.

Join us on one of the two evenings of the Winter Solstice to retell the story of darkness pressing over light and light's ongoing triumph. We'll reflect on what has been and our complicity in its dark and brutal tale. And then, encouraged in community, we'll move into light and, in so doing, let darkness slip from our hearts.


 On Sunday, December 18, we'll be at the home of West West Hill in Mississauga84 Burnhamthorpe Road in the Community of Christ Church building. This gathering of West West Hill will, as usual, commence at 4:30 for an early potluck meal as we do every third Sunday of the month. Our service,The Longest Night, will start at 6:00 that evening, necessarily compressing our informal time together. 


We'll gather on Wednesday, December 21 at our Scarborough location, 62 Orchard Park Drive, three blocks east of Morningside Avenue on Kingston Road. The service commences at 7 p.m.

We look forward to having you with us. After all, who wants to be alone on the longest night?