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.

Based in Scarborough Ontario, we have supporters as close as our neighbourhood and all over the world.  You belong with us! Connect with us in person, on the web, or here. We look forward to the journey with you.

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.

Support West Hill!  Learn more or donate now through CanadaHelps.

The latest news, videos and perspectives from our community:

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White Gift Sunday - December 13th

The Outreach Committee, in conjunction with Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities

has volunteered to make Christmas Hampers for 12 families with children.

 You can help share the joy!  We invite you to: 

 · Donate food!  (see suggested list on the back)

 · Donate a toy!

Choose a stocking from the board in the lobby and return the

un-wrapped gift with the stocking attached, on Dec. 13th

 · Contribute financially!

White Gift envelopes are in the lobby.

Insert your cash or a cheque payable to West Hill United Church,

and place it in the collection plate.

 · Deliver hampers!

Volunteer to help with delivery of the hampers.

For information, please contact Dorothy Hirlehey, the Outreach Committee or call the office




Seasonal Service - the longest night


People , Earth, Universe

Chinese Humanist and Naturalist Traditions
Tuesday Evenings in November and December
Nov. 10th, 17th, 24th and Dec. 1st, 8th
7:30 – 9:00 pm
West Hill United Church Lounge

All are welcome to join us for five informal presentation/discussion sessions on Chinese philosophy which takes the placeof religion in other civilizations. The series explores Chinese views on people living together "under heaven" and how these views are reflected in art and literature. Discussion will focus on applying humanist and naturalist ideas to everyday life,with tentative topics as listed below:
  • The place of philosophy in Chinese culture.
  • Basic Confucian ideas (Confucius and Meng Zi).
  • Basic Daoist ideas (Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi).
  • Characteristics of humanism and naturalism reflected in literature and art.
  • Cultivation of character and health: living philosophy.
Suggestions of related topics are welcome!

Wei Djao, Tony Chan and Lian Chan

Please help us to prepare for the sessions by calling the office
to let us know you wish to attend.   416 282-8566

Religious Terrorism and a letter to the Moderator, Jordan Cantwell

On Sunday, gretta spoke about the murderous attacks on two publishers in Bangladesh and urged us to engage our Members of Parliament about the ongoing hostility against secular writers in that country. Since the beginning of the year, four secular blogers have been murdered by religious extremists. 

As a first step in her own response, gretta wrote to the Moderator of the United Church, Jordan Cantwell. Here is her letter.

Dear Jordan,
How I wish that subject line (Murder in Bangladesh) were the title of a novel that had just hit the top of the bestseller list instead of a headline that is becoming so frequent we run the risk of not noticing it anymore. A news item that describes someone being hacked to death is stunning. Another, we are similarly shocked. Another, and we just read the headline this time. Another, and it shows up on page three.
But the horror is real and those who continue to be threatened with it, or who live with the reality of having experienced, it are deserving of the attentions of The United Church of Canada. In fact, I believe they deserve not only our attention but our intervention.
I am certain that you are aware that, over the weekend, two publishers in Bangladesh were attacked, one fatally. They were targeted because they had each published works by Avijit Roy, an atheist author who had been hacked to death in February. His wife, badly injured in the attack has begun speaking about her husband's work and appealing to the world and its leaders to intervene where religious intolerance takes such violent forms. We have not done so but we must.
In addition to the publishers who were attacked, two writers also received injuries and were locked inside their offices, one can assume, to prevent anyone from saving them before they died of their wounds. One of those seriously injured writers is married to a Canadian citizen. I write on his behalf, embarrassed that I have not written sooner, before Canada had "skin in the game", but recognizing that now we do, this is the most urgent time for us to act. To delay in our response, to be silent in the face of this religiously-based terror, would be tantamount to complicity. We know the quotes. We know the stories. We know that sins of omission are as significant as sins of commission. Now is the time to act.
To encourage you to act both within The United Church of Canada and on its behalf, I provide this pertinent information. 
  • Tareq Rahim is currently hospitalized. 
  • His wife, Monika Mistry has been a Canadian citizen since 2009/10 and is currently living in Montreal. 
  • Some engagement has already been commenced with Ms. Mistry's local Member of Parliament. 
  • Although Tareq has the copies of their marriage documents, it is expected that these will not be difficult to attain. 
  • Theirs is an interreligious marriage - Tareq is Muslim and Monika is Hindu. Both their families and communities have expressed disdain for their union. 
  • Monika is concerned that, when released from the hospital where there is some semblance of security, Tareq will be at risk of a repeat attack and possibly murdered. 
  • Paperwork is being gathered that will invite Canada to allow Tareq to come here when he is well enough to travel and to be allowed to remain on compassionate grounds.
I share all this information despite being fully aware that there are many individuals and families who are registered as refugees and that many United Church congregations are working to sponsor some of them to come to Canada. We have been focusing our efforts almost exclusively on Syrian refugees, undoubtedly a high need group. But we have not taken note of the dire situation in Bangladesh with respect to religious, or non-religious freedoms. Since the beginning of this year, four secular bloggers, including Roy, have been killed. These most recent attacks suggest that the environment is not going to be safe any time soon. The situation is urgent.
What I am asking you to do is to engage those within the UCC and those beyond it. 
Within the denomination, I believe it is important that we make emergency funds available for the sponsorship of refugee claimants. West Hill applied to receive grant funds for a secular Bangladeshi blogger who has now arrived in Canada and who, subsequent to making an application for refugee status based on threats to his life related to his lack of beliefs, will have a first hearing this week. We did not receive funds because the fund had been depleted by the time our application was processed. I am encouraging you to lead the conversation that puts more money on the table for urgent needs related to refugee sponsorship. Many of the grants have gone to congregations that are in the beginning stages of the refugee support process and will not be drawn down for some months if not over a year. I urge you to find a source for funds on an ongoing and urgent basis that will allow those congregations who wish to, to respond quickly when urgent situations unfold.
Additionally, I believe that whenever egregious acts related to belief are in the headlines, the United Church should have a statement about them sent to congregations and posted on its website. I could find no such statement related to any of the murders that have taken place in Bangladesh. The UCC responded quickly to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Despite my disagreement with the theological assumptions within that response, I believe it was important for us to have recognized the tragedy that had unfolded. I cannot understand why we have not been similarly responsive to the situation in Bangladesh. If we have, my apologies; I have been unable to locate it.
Beyond the denomination, I believe the concern of the UCC must be raised at a governmental level. A letter will be posted on West Hill's website and delivered to the congregation; our members, in turn, will be invited to share that letter with their own Member of Parliament and with Andrew Bennett who continues in leadership in the Office of Religious Freedom. I urge you to prepare such a letter to be sent on behalf of all members of the United Church and forwarded to congregations so that they can, in turn, take action.
Together, we have an incredible power created by the relationships we build and nourish with one another and the world around us. That power is considerable. I believe those who are in the most urgent need of that power deserve to receive all its benefits. It is because of my confidence in the United Church's ability to speak powerfully to this issue that I write and urge you to act on our behalf.
gretta vosper
You are invited to use portions of this letter to frame a request to your own Member of Parliament. A letter template will be distributed tomorrow. Please become engaged on this important issue. 

When Brothers Speak

North America's largest and longest running spoken word concert series, returns to the  St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, for a single night: Saturday November 14th.

Curated and hosted by Dwayne Morgan, this evening will bring an uncensored forum that allows Black male poets to share work on their life experiences at a time when race is a major news story due to the Black Lives Matter movement and recent events on the national spoken word scene.

"To have 500 people sit in a theatre to hear our stories is a truly validating experience ", says Morgan. In a world where the Black experience is often told through news headlines, When Brothers Speak, offers a first hand look at what it means to be a Black man in 2015.

Featured Performances:

J.G.The Juggernaught - 2015 Last poet Standing Champion

Jamaal St. John - seven time  Toronto International Peotry Slam Champion

Scribe, Tuggstar,and Jahvon Johnson - Canadian National Slam Finalists

West Hill has previously welcomed Dwayne Morgan to join us during the "Speaking Out: Queer Youth in Focus evening during World Pride" and we look forward to welcoming him back to work with us to organize an event like this for youth in our area.

The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Tickets $35-$45 advance

27 Front Street East, Toronto, www.stlc.com, 416-366-7723

www.dwaynemorgan.cainfo@dwaynemoragan.ca, 647-284-9135 



How you can help: Supporting Gretta and West Hill during the UCC Review Process

This past May, Gretta was notified by the Toronto Conference of The United Church of Canada that she would be required to submit to a review of her “effectiveness”. This review is intended to examine her theological beliefs as expressed at the time of her ordination. This is the first time that an ordained minister in the United Church has been subjected to this type of review and a special process was sought by the Conference from the General Secretary of the General Council. Although the impetus for it is not fully clear, it appears to stem from a significant increase in recent media attention being paid to Gretta and West Hill United because she has publicly identified as an atheist, a label which is consistent with her lack of belief in a theistic, interventionist, supernatural being called God.
Gretta Speaks at Burlington Baptist in 2008


We find it troubling that no one representing any level of the church has been to visit West Hill in over a decade to see what we are doing or to discuss our ministry. No one has found the work we do at West Hill important enough for the wider church to suggest it be the focus of a conversation at Presbytery, Conference, or elsewhere.


Similarly, no one from any of the church courts has tried to engage Gretta in dialogue about her beliefs and ministry despite her accessibility and willingness to respond to any who inquire. The requirement to appear before a review committee is the first invitation to dialogue but it falls within the disciplinary structure of the denomination. 


Despite the lack of invitation to dialogue on the part of the church, Gretta and her legal counsel asked the General Secretary and her team of advisors to enter into a conversation with a view to exploring an alternative to the normal judicial process. That request was denied. The response from the church continues to be no dialogue, no conversation.


During this time many of you have been asking “what can we do?” In the hopes that a conversation with the church would be forthcoming we kept saying……”stay tuned”. Now that the church has formally drawn that line in the sand we are asking for your assistance. There are a number of ways you can be involved and we are asking you to do that. 


These are links to some of the ways you can get involved. If there is something else you would like to do and you have the know how and energy to do it, please be in touch (That's our special email address for this initiative) and let us know.  
Thanks so much for becoming involved. We firmly believe, and have always believed, that this work is work that belongs within The United Church of Canada. Thank you for helping us make sure that it remains so. 

Positivity Meditation

Positivity meditation guru, Barbara Frederickson, has spent years researching the effects of brief, compassion and positivity focused meditation on personal well-being. The results she shares in her book, Positivity, should have all of us spending a few minutes each day developing this practice.

Frederickson's research shows that over time, small, manageable doses of positivity meditation increase our experience of positive emotions. These positive emotions add their own benefits, expanding the personal resource base from which our well-being is nurtured. We are more aware of our responses to immediate situations, develop a deeper understanding of purpose in our lives, reach out and strengthen our social ties, and even reduce the symptoms of illness. And the loop of benefits doesn't stop there. Increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. We reach what Frederickson identifies as a tipping point and begin to flourish instead of just existing.

Every Sunday morning, beginning at 9:50, a space for quiet meditation is provided in the small lounge on the south side of the Gathering Hall. There, a guided meditation from Barbara Fredericson's Love 2.0 site is played for those who wish to centre themselves more intentionally before our gathering time. If you'd like to experience Barbara's meditations at home (these are the same ones we use on Sunday mornings), you can find them on her Positivity Resonance website.



West Hill joins the REDress Project

The REDress Project, an installation art piece by Jaime Black, a Winnipeg Metis artist, was added to today in Scarborough. There, members of West Hill hung red dresses along Kingston Road and Orchard Park Boulevard. It was a dramatic sight. 

Jaime's work was originally developed in 2012, but this year she decided it needed to be expanded. Each red dress is hung as a remember, a tangible symbol of an aboriginal sister who has been murdered or remains missing. In the past three decades, twelve hundred women have gone missing or been killed yet there has, to date, been no official investigation in to the issue. 

The Native Women's Association of Canada's Fact Sheet on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women shares some of the grim reality. 

  • between 2000 and 2008, Aboriginal women and girls represented approximately 10% of all female homicides in Canada. However, Aboriginal women make up only 3% of the female population
  • the vast majority of women in NWAC’s database (88%) were mothers; NWAC estimates that more than 440 children have been impacted by the disappearance or murder of their mother.
  • 70% of the women and girls disappeared from an urban area and 60% were found murdered in an urban area; only a small number of cases occurred on-reserve (7% of missing cases and 13% of murder cases)
  • nearly half of murder cases in NWAC’s database remain unsolved
  • aboriginal women are almost three times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Aboriginal women are

Find out more about Jaime's REDress project and share the word. Our sisters need our voices and our passion. 





Share In Our Annual Progressive Dinner

Our annual Progressive Dinner will take place on Saturday October 24, 2015.

The evening begins with appetizers and punch served at the church; from there, guests travel to the homes of their hosts for the main course and an opportunity to enjoy the company of old and new friends; then, travel back to the church for dessert and coffee completing the evening.

Hosts prepare the main course for about 4 to 6 guests; guests provided their choice of appetizer, vegetable dish, salad or dessert.

The cost for the evening is $15.00 per guest and a donation to the community food basket.

To be a host or a guest and join in the festivities, please fill out the form located on a table in the lobby or call the office.

The last chance to sign up is noon on Sunday October 18.

Since we are celebrating our 65th anniversary, wouldn’t it be grand to have 65 “progressors” this year! We hope you can join us for this enjoyable evening.

For further information, please contact the church office.


7th Annual Christmas Bazaar

We are gladly accepting donations for the bazaar.

Please contact the office to arrange a time to drop off any items.