Visionworks 2015


West Hill United

a progressive spiritual community where

how you live is more important than what you believe

VisionWorks is our guiding document. It articulates our shared values and reflects what we hold to be of utmost significance in our community life. It calls us to examine ourselves in light of these values as we set priorities and make decisions, both individually and as a community.

As individuals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, we come together, opening ourselves to new ideas that may challenge our previously-held perspectives. With roots in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, we embrace theists, agnostics and atheists. What we share is a reverence for life that moves us to seek truth, live fully, care deeply, pursue justice and make a difference in the world. We respect individual differences insofar as they are not harmful or disrespectful of others.

We draw insight and wisdom from historic religious traditions and evolving ethical and philosophical thought. From these sources, we distill the core values that we believe are foundational to positive relationships with ourselves, others, all life and our planet.


With a deep sense of awe, we experience the wonder of life in all its dimensions, compelled to create meaning and purpose beyond mere physical survival and material gain. This dimension of living, which may be referred to as the spiritual, transcends the self as we connect with others and with all of life.

Our choices are grounded in our belief in the interrelatedness of all life and by our core values which guide us in living in right relationship with the self, others and the world.

We acknowledge that, as a part of the web of life, we have a significant impact on the environment and on all other life with which we share the planet. We, therefore, strive to live intentionally and caringly, increasing our awareness of the consequences of our actions, advocating for rights and making ethically-responsible decisions.


We choose love as our supreme value, understanding love to mean the choice to act responsibly with justice, compassion, integrity, courage and forgiveness.

Relationships are both joyful privilege and serious responsibility. We encourage and support one another as we strive to be responsible, loving people. We also recognize that conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but believe that when addressed with open hearts, it can lead to greater understanding. Therefore, when resolving differences, we value assertiveness, active listening and empathetic response. In times of broken trust, we seek mutual understanding, forgiveness and healing.

We embrace a vision of peace and social justice for people of all races, ethnicities, abilities, socioeconomic situations, gender identities and sexual orientations.

We identify and resist injustice in all forms and we strive to create, support and celebrate conditions that promote equity, dignity and community.


In order to gain insight and wisdom, we actively seek out diverse resources that may inspire us or challenge our perspectives.

We find inspiration in ancient and contemporary sources drawn from the arts, sciences and humanities. We regard all explanations of life and historical claims as human and, so, fallible, understanding that all ideas are formed in particular historical, cultural and personal contexts. Therefore, we consider no text, tradition, organization or person to be inherently authoritative, assessing all resources on their own merit.

When discussing these resources, we strive to communicate our perspectives with clarity and sensitivity, conscious that ambiguity and differing worldviews are inevitable. As we examine ideas and truth claims to determine their worth and relevance, we enjoy the freedom to retain or alter our previous understandings.

As individuals, we take care to own our own experiences and interpretations. We take responsibility for seeking and creating meaning for ourselves, each person choosing his or her own path and respecting the right of others to choose theirs. When making moral decisions as a community, we study issues comprehensively, acknowledge uncertainty and apply life-enhancing values as appropriately and sensitively as possible.


We meet regularly to celebrate together, share wisdom and develop relationships.

During our weekly service, we draw from a variety of traditions, making use of words, music, symbols and silence, attempting to appeal to all the senses and address the whole person. We offer opportunities to focus our thoughts, share joys, express concerns, engage in self-reflection and commit ourselves to action. We also acknowledge and celebrate the significance of community and life events such as birth, partnering, loss and death.


We celebrate areas of growth in our lives, acknowledging the possibility of growth even during the inevitable challenging periods. We also recognize that even positive growth may involve both loss and gain.

We seek to increase our understanding of ourselves, others and the world. We identify areas in our personal and communal lives that need to be addressed and then attempt to make positive change, however possible.

We assist individuals in discovering and developing talents and invite them to fulfill spiritual and administrative leadership responsibilities within our community. We encourage cooperation and participation in the visioning, planning and operational aspects of our community life. We also offer educational and social opportunities to promote personal growth and to engage with contemporary issues.

We also contribute as individuals and as a community to the growth of other organizations that promote life-enhancing values.


As we strive to live in these ways as individuals in community,

we often soar and often stumble.

Yet in joy and sorrow, in certainty and doubt,

we are not alone, for we travel together in the spirit of love.

© March 8, 2015 West Hill United Church