Winter Wondering @ West Hill
Earlier this week, I found a “Giving Tuesday” message in my inbox from one of the charities I have supported in the past. It was great to get an update from them and to be reminded that the work of charitable organizations happens only because of the generous donations they receive from people who believe in the work they do. Even if the only thing a “Giving Tuesday” email does is remind us how important giving is, that is a significant thing.
I’m writing to remind you of that same thing, inspired by the incredible commitment you make to West Hill, to remind you how much you already give, and to thank you for making what we do at West Hill possible. We’re more than a church; we’re an inspiration.
This past year, as we celebrated our 65th anniversary, we’ve done great things:
We have continued to evolve working on the forefront of change in the United Church and beyond, sharing the message that the way we live is more important than what we believe.
We’ve counted the days on a calendar filled with the talent of West Hill folks.
We’ve embraced a new VisionWorks that articulates our values even more clearly.
We’ve made that message real by continuing the work of engaging with First Nations leaders and expanding our understanding of what it means to be Treaty people.
We’ve continued our commitment to creating a Canada that is a safe and welcoming place for refugees in need.
We’ve built bridges between religious and secular communities both by welcoming the participation of Humanist Canada’s President, Eric Thomas, and Vice-President, Martin Frith, in a service in September, and partnering with the Center for Inquiry Canada to support bringing an at-risk atheist journalist from Bangladesh to Canada as a refugee, a significant extension of our important refugee work.
We’ve come together in moments of solemnity and beauty.
We’ve reflected both in the pews and while walking the labyrinth.
We’ve filled backpacks for kids.
We’ve renovated one of the basement bathrooms. (Yippee!)
We’ve sent food to the foodbank every week.
We’ve created, from little bits of almost nothing, beautiful crafts to raise funds for the church and had a whole lot of fun doing it.
We’ve supported the United Church’s Mission and Service Fund and the work it does at the Conference and Presbytery levels through our Presbytery dues.
We’ve created and shared new resources with progressive and secular communities, including a new ritual for creating balance and forgiveness inspired by the work of novelist Carol Berg.
We’ve supported members of our community through very challenging times.
We influenced the Ontario Government helping it decide to allow Darlene Necan, a homeless Ojibway woman, to build her home on her family’s traditional lands.
We’ve come together to find out more about each other and the different cultural worlds we inhabit, studying Adrienne Clarkson’s Belong: The Paradox of Citizenship, the 2014 Massey Lectures last winter and gathering around Wei Djao to learn of Chinese Humanism and Philosophy over the past few weeks.
We’ve had tons of media attention and welcomed dozens and dozens of visitors to our Scarborough location as a result.
We’ve intentionally created ways for people to connect more easily and support one another when needed.
We’ve continued to develop our great music leadership, growing the choir with new faces and new voices.
We’ve continued to build our Mississauga community growing close relationships amongst its participants and, finally, finding a permanent home.
We’re welcoming another outstanding speaker, the inimitable Dr. Spencer Harrison, on the first Sunday of December for our 7th Affirming Anniversary Celebration.
And now, as the holidays approach, we’re putting together food baskets and picking out toys to add a little joy to households in our community.
Our work finds its home in the hearts of people around the world, from New Zealand to Chile to Scotland to Taiwan. We’ve inspired, engaged, laughed and cried, encouraged, committed, celebrated, learned, mourned, welcomed, informed, grown, embraced, and we’ve loved - fully, madly, deeply. We’ve been West Hill and we’ve done it as boldly as ever. Sometimes it hasn’t been easy, but it has always been worth the challenge.
As we approach the end of the year, I want to say thank you for the depth of your engagement and then, of course, invite you to do it again. Maybe in just the same way you have in the past because that has brought you strength and joy and well-being. Maybe just a little less because the challenges in your life have escalated and you need to step back a bit and take care of yourself. Maybe just a little more because you feel a commitment to this place, this West Hill we have created. And maybe a whole lot more because you know that the commitment you make here isn’t just to West Hill, it’s to the future - yours, ours, the world’s.
As you know, we are entering a very challenging new year. Any gift you can make will make a real difference and be received with gratitude. Attached to this letter is an envelope for you to place your gift inside. You’ll also find, already tucked in there, a Pre-authorized Remittance (PAR) form. You can use it to set up a monthly donation or increase the contribution you already make. If you’d rather do everything online, visit our website to make a donation or set up a recurring gift through CanadaHelps, www.westhill.net/donate/.
After all, we’re more than a church; we’re an inspiration. So are you.