Welcome

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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Friday
Jan302015

Your Sacred Story - with Janice Meighan

Six Week Workshop Series

A wonderful opportunity to engage in discussion and explore elements of your journey as a sacred human person. During the traditional season of Lent the story of Jesus, both as human and the Christ, has been the focus; it has been told and retold and reimagined – even at WHU, from its founding 65 years ago to recent times.              

We will briefly look at character traits and elements from 5 Gospel Authors about the life of Jesus, the human person, as “jumping off” points.  But YOU have a sacred story and this workshop is for you and others to explore what that sacred story is, if you don’t already know it fully.  If you have already connected with your story, we'd love for you to come out and share it with us.

We are offering two options for attendance: 

Sunday Mornings.           February 22nd – March 29th  8:30 am – 10:00 am

or

Wednesday Evenings.    February 25th  – April 1st       7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

We are offering this workshop with no registration fee; however, there will be a basket for any free-will offerings to help cover costs of refreshments and workshop materials.  If you have any questions or concerns, or simply want more information please speak with Janice in person or email Janice.meighan@sympatico.ca

Wednesday
Jan142015

What Has Life Taught You?

One of our 65 Ways to Wonder projects is a beautiful book that will highlight what it is we, as people engaged with West Hill United, have learned on our way through life. Set against Gretta's photography, the book will share insights from our youngest members to our oldest and will be a testimony to the ideals and values that West Hill people hold dear. 

To participate, simply complete the sentence, "In _______ years, I've learned that ________" twenty times. Why twenty? Because we want you to think deeply about what it is you've learned and why it has been important to you.  We'd like you to make sure your age is filled in in the blank but we don't need any further information. You can add your name if you like, but if you do, please also let us know whether you are okay with us publishing it in the book.

The entries will be edited and selected for publication and the result will be a testimony to what we, as an extraordinary community, have learned over the accumulation of our years. 

Send your responses to the office or drop a paper copy off next time you're in.  

Thanks for participating in this special 65th anniversary project!


Wednesday
Jan142015

Train Wreck, April 11, 2015

Coming on April 11th, the wonder of Rick Miller's new band Train Wreck. A combination of party and persona, Train Wreck entertains and enlightens as its musicians and back-up singers frame the shifting caricatures of pop legends that channel through Rick to enchant audiecnces. Our brand new venue will vibrate with energy and song and be the perfect way to shake off the winter blues. Tickets, $20, available through the office or at the door, admin@westhill.net. Cash bar and refreshments will be available. April 11, 2015, TIME TBA. 

Wednesday
Jan142015

Women Rock!

We are vere excited to be hosting an evening with Rick Miller's new band, Train Wreck on April 11th. It is going to be an exciting night as we introduce the band scene to our great new intimate venue and an exciting night for us as we welcome back Rick and Steph in totally new roles!

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, her diva companions, and our own Babette, 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 the evenings of March 2, 9, and 30 with an unfacilitated practice session on March 23. Get those dates in your calendar now!

We're working to accommodate as many divas as possible but the registration numbers are going to be tight 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. Check back soon for exact workshop dates! And get ready to ROCK on April 11th!

Thursday
Jan082015

Inspired by Hollywood

We began our annual examination of the films nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award on January 11th with The Imitation Game, a powerful metaphor for deciphering our own selves. For six weeks, the Sunday gathering will focus on one of the pictures and bring the innovation, challenges, and provocation of the silver screen into our Perspective(s). It is a wonderful way to engage newcomers so don't hesitate to bring your friends to explore and discuss these amazing films. 

See and share the poster below for films that will inspire upcoming services.

 

Thursday
Jan082015

West Hill - The Idea

West Hill has been about adaptation and change over the whole course of its history. Some of that change has been in response to things happening in the wider world, like when Scarborough first began to pave its roads and build whole subdivisions and we decided to create a congregation. Some of it has been because we were ready to do something different, like the reconception of our building and the construction of two new wings. And some change happened because we were ready to do something better, like becoming an Affirming congregation. 

Change happens. But when it does, we want to be its drivers. Join us for our conversations about "West Hill - The Idea." Saturday, January 24th, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 1st, from just after the Visitors' and Travellers' lunch to 2:30 p.m. 

Many of you completed the survey which will form the basis for the conversations we will have on January 24th. Thank you for doing that. The more information we have, the better able we will be to decipher our way forward. 

The Process

The work we do together will be overseen by the Board and facilitated by Rollin Cormier whose professional life involved just this sort of analysis and planning in large corporations. We are delighted and honoured that he is sharing his wisdom with us.

The data from the survey will be compiled and several statements about the church will surface, each related to something at West Hill which currently seems to be creating a challenge or preventing its mission. These will be engaged at the meeting on January 24th and you will have an opportunity to speak to each of the issues. The responses to each issue will also be recorded and further analyzed.

Following the Visitors' and Travellers' lunch on Sunday, February 1st, we will remain for another hour or so as the results of the information gatherer are shared in the form of a work plan for the congregation. Each person who has been involved in the process will see the cumulative input of the group reflected in the plan as it evolves. 

We have been blunt about our current situation and have needed to be. Our volunteer leadership resources and our financial resources are at a very critical state. The strategic plan that guided our operations over the last few years was a growth plan built upon the significant increase in attendance we had witnessed over previous years. But the reversal of that trend over the same year in which we increased our staffing - all part of the strategic plan - has depleted our resources. Heading into 2015, our budget currently exhausts our financial reserves within a few months. And this time have no cushion to fall back upon. 

Plelase make it a priority to join us for these two workshops, Saturday, January 24th from 10 to 3 and Sunday, February 1, from after lunch to 2:30. Together, we will drive the change, working with the idea of what West Hill is and can be.

 

Friday
Dec052014

The Longest Night

We had two amazing Longest Night services this year!

West West Hill

The first was in Mississauga where West West Hill is beginning to draw together an amazing group of inspiring people. They gathered in the beauty of Applewood United's library and created their own beauty as the evening went on. A special thank you goes out to Scott and Babette for taking the leadership of this memorable event. 

 

West Hill, West Hill

Our second Longest Night service was held in our own building. Music, readings, and candles, were the tools through which participants reflected on the challenges faced by so many at this and every time of the year and provided opportunity for new commitments to be made. Over one hundred and ten people lit their tapers at the end of the service and, wearing their candlewick bracelets, raised the light in the world by igniting their hearts with love. It was a beautiful event. 

We are grateful to Scott and Babette for taking the leadership of both Longest Night events and for those who helped them with the set-up, readings, and candle lighting. As one of our signature services, it couldn't have been more beautifully offered. 

Friday
Dec052014

Christmas in the Neighbourhood

It's a beautiful time in the city! Lights are twinkling and festivities are scheduled. We're getting excited. But we're also getting ready to help those in our city for whom Christmas can be a trying time financially. We gather food, gifts, and money to fill twelve hampers in cooperation with Scarborough Healthy Communities. If you are able to contribute, here's how to do so:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec052014

It's Our Fifth Affirming Anniversary!

An opportunity to celebrate and re-AFFIRM

Five years ago, West Hill joined Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble. At that time, we were about the 50th congregation across Canada to make the pledge to create a safe place for LGBTQ people to gather and lead. It seemed, when we first thought about becoming an affirming congregation, that doing so was a no-brainer. But that turned out to not be the case. 

In fact, very quickly after we opened the discussion, a few members of the congregation, both straight and gay, raised issues with its consideration. One gay man rejected the notion because West Hill was one of the few placed in his life that he didn't have to carry the gay banner. He liked just being a guy here and worried that there would be more pressure to identify as gay were weto become affirming.

Another congregant argued that, were we to articulate within our documents that we affirmed and welcomed LGBTQ individuals into the congregation, the implication would be that others not specifically mentioned would feel unwelcome - the economically marginalized, those with differing abilities, and individuals living with mental health challenges. He pointed out that the welcoming nature of the congregation, to that point, had been radically inclusive and believed that, should we focus on one particular segment of the population, we might create more barriers where, previously, there had been none. 

They were important conversations to have and not at all the kind normally experienced by congregations while discussing the issue. In the end, it may have been a film that made our choice for us. 

For the Bible Tells Me So is a 2007 documentary that lands responsibility for homophobia directly at the feet of Christian and other religious traditions. It shares the realities faced by five different families, each dealing with the challenges presented them by a culture that identifies LGBTQ sexualities as deviant and sinful. We aired the movie on several different occasions so that, by the time we had finished, over eighty percent of the congregation had viewed it.

And we had to do something to own the error of our tradition and try to make it better.

In December 2009, we celebrated our decision to become an affirming congregation. George Smitherman was our guest speaker. The following year, Kathleen Wynne, then Minister of Transportation, spoke at our first anniversary. Francisco Alvarez, then Chair of Toronto Pride, spoke for our second anniversary and Kamal Al-Solaylee joined us in 2012 to speak on his powerful book, Intolerable, a memoir of growing up gay in the Arab world. Irene Miller, Chair of PFLAG, moved many of us to tears in 2014.

This year, we are expecting the opposite. Deb Pearce is a brilliantly funny speaker who will share her story this Sunday, December 7th, beginning at 10:30. We hope you'll join us for this important date and reaffirm our commitment to the LGBTQ community and its friends.

Wednesday
Dec032014

Darlene Necan and the cry for a better Ontario

On November 9th, Darlene Necan captivated the crowd at West Hill that had gathered to share sandwiches and hear her story. On December 1st, that story went national with coveragy by Reg Sherren of CBC's The National. You can read his moving contribution to her unfolding story here, Reg Sherren Encounters Homelessness and Hunger.

It is essential that we make Darlene's case one that draws the attention of Ontario's provincial government in an effort to have the fines orders placed on her as the result of her building a home on her ancestral land removed. Here are some ways you can do that, drawn up by Steve Watson, one of the principal movers and shakers in West Hill's First Nations' Study Group. If you watched the news segment, you will have seen him speak passionately about Darlene and her situation.

Please call, write, or email the Premier's office and the offices of he Ministry of Natural Resources.  The telephone numbers, email addresses and electronic links to Premier Wynne’s office are below. Telephone calls would be best. Emails, second best. There’s also a feature at the Premier’s website where people can send her a personal message. It’s called CONTACT KATHLEEN. We should have hundreds of people lined up to do just that. Steve drafted a message to save you some time. It could look something like this:

 
“I saw the story on CBC National on Darlene Necan and was shocked to learn this Ojibway woman at Savant Lake has been served a fine by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources only because she built herself a little cabin where her ancestors lived for thousands of years. She was unable to find any alternative housing. It would be far better for the Ministry to give her a permit and stay or withdraw the charges. The Minister could adopt a policy where no further such fines will be issued against homeless indigenous people who build a home on Crown Land until action is taken to end the homeless crisis affecting both on and off reserve indigenous peoples. I would greatly appreciate your personal attention to this matter.”
 
Here are some telephone numbers people can call, some email addresses and an electronic link to her website where people can leave a message at CONTACT KATHLEEN.
 
Hon Kathleen O. Wynne
Don Valley West
 
 
Queen's Park 
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
Tel
416-325-1941
Fax
416-325-9895
Constituency 
Suite 101
795 Eglinton Avenue East
Toronto, Ontario M4G 4E4
Tel
416-425-6777
Fax
416-425-0350