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.

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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Wednesday
Jan182017

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.
Tuesday
Jan172017

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!

 

 

Monday
Jan162017

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

*NEW*

Children’s 1/2 hour Mindful Yoga class

Saturday mornings 9 am

$35 for the 7 week program

 

 

Saturday
Dec242016

Inspired by Hollywood Service Series

Tuesday
Dec202016

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.

Mississauga

 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. 

Scarborough

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?

Thursday
Dec082016

White Gift Sunday - December 11th

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!  

 · Donate a toy! 

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

un-wrapped gift with the stocking attached, on Dec. 11th

 · 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

416-282-8566

 

Monday
Dec052016

Special Note about our Podcasts

After 25 years of service, our wireless sound system needs to be replaced. To ensure that we can provide a quality recording to share with others, this system -- like the previous one -- must be of professional quality. Systems of this quality can range from $500-$600.  Can you help us out with a donation?  If you value hearing Gretta's and others' wonderful perspectives, clearly and without distortion, this would be a great way to show your financial support! You can send your donations to West Hill United Church with a notation "for a speaker system".  Or click on the Canada Helps button to the right and note "for speaker system".  Thanks for your ongoing support!

Saturday
Dec032016

Culture, Context, and Reconciliation

Seventh Annual Affirming Anniversary Celebration

 

West Hill became an Affirming Congregation, officially welcoming LGBTQ2S people into leadership roles at West Hill, in 2009. In fact, we had included diverse sexualities and genders in congregational leadership for some years before but realized that, from the outside, it was hard to tell we were welcoming. Since our initial celebration, we've recognized our diversity every year on the first Sunday of December.

This year, we are excited to be welcoming Ej Kwandibens, an indigenous gay man and cultural educator. Ej will illuminate the history and meaning of the indigenous term "Two Spirited". He will also bring his own experience and perspective to bear on the issues of sexuality in indigenous culture and the importance of reconciliation to the nurturing of healthy relationships in the community and organizations.

As we do on the first Sunday of each month, there will be a meal following the service. This month, the meal will be vegan and built around the Three Sisters Soup recipe which has its roots in indigenous communities. We look forward to breaking bread with Ej and with you!

 

Saturday
Dec032016

CBC Radio Program "Ontario Today"

Can you have church without God?

On December 1st, Gretta joined Rita Celli on the radio program
Ontario Today. The segment was titled "Can you have church without God?"
Phone lines lit up after Gretta's interview, as half-a-million listeners tuned in for the province-wide phone-in conversation over lunch .

Listen here
Saturday
Dec032016

Fundscrip Gift Cards - A perfect time to order!

Do you shop, dine, or gas up at any of these great Canadian retailers? If so, read on...

Will you be picking up a gift card or two this season? We have had wonderful success with folks ordering gift cards for regular weekly expenses such as groceries, pharmacy and fuel, as well as those little extras for gifts, entertainment, restaurants and retail goods. 

From 1% to 10% of our everyday purchases will be automatically donated back to West Hill United Church! 

 

Imagine buying groceries and gas, clothing, and entertainment, things you already buy each week from your favourite stores, while earning money back to West Hill United Church.

A complete list of retailers is available at on the FundScrip website at Retailers.

You'll also find list of special deals that offer us a boost when purchased during that mothly promotion.

Hmm....Sounds good. So, what’s the catch?

The catch, if there is one, is that you need to be a little organized in your shopping; however, you already buy groceries and gas on a regular basis. You know how much you spend and where you like to shop. So, as it turns out, the idea of buying gift cards for those purchases a couple of days in advance isn’t such a “catch” after all. Just imagine, if you spend $200/week on groceries and you pre-purchase your grocery gift card through our group, that is $6.00 back to West Hill United Church per week.

In 10 months, you alone could earn a minimum of $240.00 back to West Hill United Church, simply by doing something you do everyday … and that is just groceries. Add gas, entertainment, and clothing and that amount will rise substantially.

The only other "catch" is that you need to come to the Church to pick up your purchases...or you could designate someone to pick up your purchase on your behalf.

Enrollment is easily done via Enrollment Link. Our Group Invitation Code is YWVFVW.

As always, we thank you for you generous support!