A Welcome From Our Senior Minister
Frequently Asked Questions
When are services?
Services are held at 10:30 am each Sunday at 175 St. Clair Ave West.
Are my kids welcome?
Absolutely. Kids and youth are important and valued members of our community! Find out about our exciting kids and youth programs.
What's the best way to get there by public transit?
Take the 512 St. Clair Streetcar (or bus) from either the St. Clair subway station (westbound) or the St. Clair West subway station (eastbound) and get off at Avenue Road.
Where should I park?
If you ride your bike, you can park at the front of our property. Unfortunately, we do not have a dedicated parking lot for cars. Street parking is available on St. Clair Ave. West and surrounding side streets.
Is the congregation “Queer Positive”?
Absolutely. We have an active LGBT community within our congregation. Our denomination has welcomed gay parish ministers for the last quarter century, long before most other religious groups. Toronto First is also a “Welcoming Congregation”. The Welcoming Congregation Program is a volunteer program for UU congregations that see a need to become more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people.
Read the statement regarding same-sex couples passed at our Annual General Meeting in May 2001.
Is the building wheelchair accessible?
Our church building is almost totally wheelchair accessible. The elevator is located down the long hallway past the church office. An elevator key is available from the office. Level 1 is the lower hall; level 2 is the sanctuary; level 3 is Workman Hall, the accessible washroom and the nursery; level 4 is the Religious Education wing.
What should I wear?
Dress up or dress casually; you won't be alone whichever you choose.
How can I get I information on wedding, funerals and other rites of passage?
How established is the congregation?
The First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto was founded as a religious community in 1845 and has been active ever since. Learn more about our history.
Is Toronto First Unitarian Associated with Unity, Unification or the United Church?
No. We have no relationship with these organizations.
We are located at 175 St. Clair Avenue West, just west of Avenue Road, on the south side of St. Clair Avenue. (Administrator's office hours.)
How to get here:
- By public transit:
- From the St. Clair subway station at Yonge, take the 512 St. Clair streetcar west and get off at Avenue Road. Or you can walk from the station - it should take about 10 minutes.
- From the St. Clair West subway station, take the 512 St. Clair streetcar east.
- Northbound and southbound Avenue Road buses stop at St. Clair Avenue, but service is infrequent.
- On Sundays subway service begins at 8 am.
- By bicycle: Use the bike racks near the door at the west side of the building.
- By car: Get more information about Parking in the Neighbourhood of First Unitarian.
Our building is accessible to wheelchairs.
Dress up or dress casually; you won’t be alone whichever you choose.
Senior Minister's Greeting
Greeting From The Reverend Shawn Newton
Hello, and welcome to Toronto First Unitarian — a congregation of open hearts and minds in the city of Toronto since 1845. By our Sunday morning worship and our actions throughout the week, we strive to proclaim a faith that celebrates the great gift of life. In this, we are guided by love, and reason, and tolerance.
Though we are a congregation diverse in many ways, we affirm that the bonds of our community are stronger than our differences. Indeed, as Unitarians, we believe we are ultimately made stronger by our differences—for by honouring the range of views and experiences found among us, we can find both encouragement and challenge to live lives of deeper integrity, meaning, and purpose.
Each week, during our service, we acknowledge that we arrive at First Unitarian by many paths to build up a community of love, and commitment, and hope. We invite you to join us, whatever your path and wherever you find yourself on life’s journey. May you find with us a home that nourishes your spirit, engages your mind, and inspires you to engage the world with an open heart and a helping hand.
Parking in the Neighbourhood of First Unitarian
On Sundays there is free parking along St Clair until 1:00 pm.
At other times, street parking is free except for pay parking along St Clair, but limited to 3 hours maximum unless otherwise posted by (loosely enforced) Toronto by-laws.
A streetcar right-of-way divides eastbound and westbound traffic on St Clair, but U-turns are allowed at the traffic lights east at Avenue Rd, and west opposite Timothy Eaton church.
Special Arrangements – Sundays, Weekends and Evenings
Parking for special events may be arranged at:
Desjardins Building, 95 St Clair Ave W.
Kids & Youth
During our Sunday morning worship service we offer loving care for infants and toddlers as well as engaging programming for pre-school and school-age children.
Our team of carefully chosen volunteer teachers use story, discussion, plays, arts and crafts, cooperative games, activities and music to create a fun, interactive experience for young people.
Our programs for children strive to:
- Honour our children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder
- Familiarize our children with our Unitarian Universalist heritage and values and with the beliefs and practices of the world’s religions
- Encourage children’s appreciation for our shared humanity and respect for the diversity of opinion, ability, affectional orientation and ethnicity among us
- Foster children’s sense of connectedness to the extended spiritual family in our congregation and support parents in a community of like-minded individuals
- Inspire children and youth to act for justice, equity and compassion
Family Winter Retreat 2017
Registration is now open for all First families who want to attend this year’s Winter Family Retreat at beautiful Cedar Glen YMCA in Schomberg.
Join us January 20 to 22, 2017 for a weekend of fun, snowy outdoor activities, and connecting with other First families.
Download the registration form, which includes instructions on where to mail your cheque.
Thinking Of Visiting Us?
You Are Welcome Here!
If you are looking for:
- A spiritual community that practices respect for other faiths, reason, tolerance and love.
- A place for you to share your questions, doubts and dreams for a better world.
- A place for you to meet others who care deeply about our world and about each other.
- A place where your kids can be themselves and learn to make ethical choices — in a safe, supportive and fun-filled environment.
Come join us on this magnificent adventure!
Sunday services begin at 10:30 am at 175 St. Clair Avenue West.
What To Expect
Here you will find a vibrant, free-thinking and caring community where you can explore your beliefs, find meaning and purpose, explore your spirituality and help transform the world through social action.
When should I arrive?
Sunday services begin at 10:30 am. It is best to arrive about 15 minutes before service, especially if you have children. This will give you and your children time to meet the Religious Education teachers before service.
What should I wear?
We have a relaxed dress code. While a few members wear dressier outfits, the majority wear casual clothing. Children should wear comfortable clothes and their normal footwear.
On Sundays there is free parking in the lot directly across from our building (access the parking lot on the north side of St. Clair Ave off Forest Hill Rd). See our map and directions.
Kids and Youth
Kids and youth are important and valued members of our community!
Here your kids can learn to make informed and ethical choices in their lives by learning “how to think” rather than “what to think”. Find out more about our exciting programs for kids and youth.
What happens after I walk in?
A greeter will welcome you as you enter our front door. He or she will point out Sunderland Hall where services are held, and our brochure display, where you will find information about First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, the Unitarian Universalist faith.
Our Sunday services
It is our hope you will find our service to be meaningful and transformative. The service normally consists of opening words, several hymns, music, two or more readings, a sermon, and an offering. After the service, if you are interested in learning more, look for the visitors’ table where members of the congregation are available to answer your questions, take you on a tour of the building and introduce you to other members. You are welcome to join us in Workman Hall for coffee and conversation. Please take a green coffee cup, so that others may greet you. Learn more about our upcoming services.
What else goes on on Sunday?
There are usually a few activities that take place after the service, aside from coffee hour. The congregational library is open for browsing and borrowing. There is often a discussion, perhaps about the sermon, a topical issue or a book. The artwork in Sunderland Hall is changed at the start of each month and there is usually an art show to celebrate the new installation. Please feel free to look around and join anything that interests you.
Will someone try to pressure me to join or convert?
Absolutely not. While Unitarians Universalists are very open to others joining our faith and congregation, we will not pressure anyone to join - in fact, we encourage people to take all the time they need before they decide to join. If you consider joining First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, you should take some time to attend services, allow your children to participate in religious education/youth group, and consider how well Unitarian Universalism fits your personal beliefs. Our services can be different from one another so we suggest that you attend at least three services to get a real flavour of what we have to offer.
For those who want to learn more about our congregation, a brief Newcomer’s Information Meeting is held the first Sunday of every month, at 11:45 in the Board Room. It’s a casual conversation, with an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have.
If you decide to join the congregation, the process is actually rather simple: after advising the ministers that you would like to join, you sign the membership book during a brief new member Sunday Service held quarterly throughout the year. This ceremony can also be held in private, if you prefer.