We're very excited about our Ever Wonder conference, a chance for folks curious about what we do here at West Hill to come together, try out our iconic services, discuss church in their contexts, and meet members of West Hill. Find out what it's all about! Dream a new way of doing church into being!
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.
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Despite our small size, we're a congregation with chutzpah! So, because we've known for a long, long time that there are many people on the west side of the city who are interested in what we offer here on the east side, we're packing up the team and heading on over!
Many of our visitors over the years, have come from the west side of the city - Oakville, Mississauga, Parkdale, Hamilton. Rather than continue to disappoint them, we're going to start a satellite community in Mississauga and create a place that can nurture those interested in church who may not be interested in church doctrine.
Every third Sunday of the month, Gretta, Scott, and Babette will drive over to a site in Mississauga (we'll put the name of it down when the contract is signed!) where we will provide an opportunity for folks to gather for the same kind of community we've created here at West Hill. Theologically barrier-free, the emphasis will be on bringing diverse perspectives together and creating space in which they can engage with a view to learning more about one another and developing deep and lasting relationships. We hope to draw not only from those we have on record has having come from visit us at West Hill, but people who have never yet heard of a church without reference to Jesus or God before but who are searching for a community that can support them in the challenges of living a life of goodness. After all, its what we do best.
Already, talented individuals are not currently engaged in the life of the congregation in West Hill have made it known that they are very interested in being part of the leadership of the satellite community. And we're excited about working with them! They have great ideas which, combined with those that emerge from those who gather, will create a community that will have the same underlying precepts as West Hill but its own culture and flavour. And we think that's pretty exciting!
As the new community develops there will be many ways that you can become involved. The Elements Committee has taken responsibility for packing a refreshments basket for the first gathering and we're delighted that they are pitching in! Anything you'd like to do? Speak with Gretta, Scott, Babette, or Karen and we'll make sure you are included.
We're feeling pretty good about sharing what West Hill is all about. You make us what we are!
The American based online journal known as FaithStreet, recently published an article on Gretta's unique ministry as an atheist.
"Gretta Vosper describes herself as both a minister and an atheist. That may sound like an oxymoron to some, but her work and witness offer a model that speaks to those who no longer believe in the orthodox Christian concept of “God” but still seek the community present in church cultures." Read more
Joseph Boyden, author of “Three Day Road”, “Through Black Spruce”, “The Orenda” and winner of Canada Reads for 2014 will be the guest speaker on Wednesday September 24th, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at West Hill United Church, 62 Orchard Pk. Drive at Kingston Road, Scarborough, On M1E 3T7. This is a benefit for Camp Onakawana, a camp for kids in the far north, which is dear to Mr. Boyden’s heart. A ‘meet and greet’ with the author and book signing will follow with light refreshments. Tickets are by donation, suggested minimum $20.00, in advance, from the church. Make cheques payable to: West Hill United Church. For more information call 416-282-8566.
The First Nations Study Group at West Hill United Church has been meeting for over 3 years. Through our group studies, the heartbreak of the ongoing tragedy of the suicides and attempted suicides amongst young people on reserves has been painfully brought home to us. Joseph Boyden and his close friends are striving to make a difference in the lives of the young people in the far north, changing despair into self-reliance. We hope that you will be able to join us on September 24th, to help make a difference, too!
BUILDING SOMETHING, by Joseph Boyden
There’s a place in the wilderness of the northern lowlands, a paradise dotted by black spruce and poplar, tamarack and ash, the earth woven with rivers and pocked by muskeg. It’s true bush, about 220 kilometers north of Cochrane, Ontario, and about 90 kilometers south of Moosonee and its northern reserve cousin, Moose Factory.
In recent years, these communities, and others very similar to them right across Canada’s north, have been devastated by waves of young people taking their own lives. There are the theories: brutal socio-economic conditions, psycho-biological tendencies, the post-traumatic stress of a culture’s destruction. Ultimately, though, no one is quite sure why the rate is often 100 times higher than the Canadian average. All we know is that something desperately needs to be done.
So we’re doing something. We are building a camp for kids there, where the Abitibi River meets another, much smaller river, the camp’s namesake, the Onakawana.
We are working hard to change despair into self-reliance, of changing that frightening feeling of being lost into always knowing how to find home, of changing the belief that there isn’t much of a future into seeing that the world is your oyster, or should I say, your netted sturgeon, your beaded moccasin, your moose tenderloin, your sweat lodge, your eagle feather, your round dance in the wilderness, surrounded by your friends.
And what makes me especially happy is that this camp, Onakawana, won’t be the only one. It’s just the first in what will be camps for youth across Canada, where young people can get to learn and get to share, maybe get to find themselves a little bit. It’s a place where they are encouraged to simply become themselves.
We have a wonderful event coming up in two weeks! World Pride in Toronto is featuring photography by Rachelle Lee Smith, a Philadelphia-based photographer who has focused on the voices and stories of queer-identified youth in their own words. We are pleased to announce that we have the opportunity for an intimate evening with Rachelle Lee Smith and other featured guests. The evening will include music, spoken word, and discussion of Smith's art, and we can't wait!
Rachelle's work has been featured in the Huffington Post, too! Check out the article about it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/17/speaking-out-queer-youth_n_5501103.html
Tuesday night, June 24th, 8 p.m. Be there and bring your friends!
Please see our facebook page for more details about the evening, or see the attached poster.
Our guiding document, our statement of shared values, Visionworks. It's one of the things I'm most proud of when I think of West Hill, and the best thing about it is our amazing commitment to revisiting and revising it every five years. This is a VisionWorks year, and we've started the process on Sunday as Gretta focused on the preamble of VisionWorks for Sunday's service and perspective(s).
We know have the audio podcast and the video of that service available for those of you who weren't able to be here on Sunday, or for those of you who wish to revisit it before participating in a conversation about it this week. For this week and the next five, on Wednesdays at 7 or on Thursdays at 10, or on Sundays after the service, we will be forming conversation groups to talk about what speaks to us in VisionWorks, what frustrates us, what language sounds outdated or strange, and what language describes truly the community we're trying to build.
And here are the slides that go with the presentation.
(photo borrowed from theguardian.com)
We're delighted to announce that we're hiring two students (probably older than these prodigies!) for seven-week contracts this summer. The two positions are tech jobs, one focused on video and the other focused on the web site. Look for some changes around here after the summer!
If you are a student and returning to school next year and have some skills in either video production or web site development, get in touch with us! If you have someone in mind, please direct them to us. We're on a tight timeline because our position is supposed to start on June 1, so we've got to recruit pretty quickly.
Here are the details:
Start date: June 1 2014
Contract length: 7 weeks at 30 hours per week
Hourly rate: $15
The video specialist will be working on creating several short videos helping to tell the story of our congregation, and the web specialist will be working on building a new website for us as well as evaluating our current web presence and helping us engage our members at a distance.
Applications due May 23 at noon. Please e-mail a resume, cover letter, and a portfolio of either videos or web sites depending on the position to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Web Specialist Application" or "Media Specialist Application."
For more complete job descriptions, e-mail us and we'll send 'em to you!
In preparation for our event next Wednesday, April 30, 7:30, here is an informative article by alternative media press, Rabble. Although a couple of months old, it gives much background information to Enbridge's Line 9 proposal.
And here is more information on our event which will include guest speakers Jim Robb, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Carolyn King, Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation , and Sabrina Bowman, Environmental Defence.
This photo of the Rouge Valley is from Girl in da Hood's blog.
We're so pleased to announce the launch of a fabulous new book by a prominent member of our congregation. Janice Meighan, who has led so many wonderful study sessions, book studies, and rituals for our community, has also spent the last several years working on a biography of the Very Reverend, the Honourable Lois M. Wilson, a phenomenal Canadian leader. Lois was the first female moderator of The United Church of Canada as well as the first female President of the World Council of Churches, and she was also appointed a Senator. Lois continues to offer her pointed critique of the life of Canadian society, global politics, and the church.
Janice's book is called Feisty and Fearless: Glimpses into the Life of Lois M. Wilson," and we are hosting the launch of the book! Janice will speak during our service on the major themes of the book, politics and religion, gender, and blazing a trail. Lois Wilson is a gem of our denomination and we're so excited to read the book!
May 4, Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Janice will speak during the service, and the book will be available for purchase afterwards (and Janice will be signing copies)!