What We Do Here

Our programs will help to nurture your spiritual growth and to find community. We welcome all, members, friends and visitors, to engage in all of our programs. Come and learn, explore, and experience the many groups and activities here at First.

Unless otherwise specified, all programs take place at 175 St. Clair Avenue West.

For those programs with associated fees, please make cheques payable to “First Unitarian Congregation” and write on the memo line “Adult Program” and the activity covered. A sliding scale recognizes differences in ability to pay. If you are unable to pay the stated fee for the program, talk to the program leader and adjustments will be made according to your needs.

If you need childcare, please discuss this with the group leader who will contact the adult program committee about childcare requests.

For information about our Adult Programs, contact Angela Klassen, Director of Lifespan Religious Education (DLRE) at 416-924-9654 ext 2230 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We also actively encourage anyone who has an idea for a group or workshop that they would like to lead or develop to contact Angela to discuss it.

Read the complete Adult Program Guide for Fall 2019.

 Angela Klassen - Director of Lifespan Religious Education (DLRE)

angela

Angela joined the staff team at First Unitarian in June 2008 and recently celebrated 10 wonderful years of serving children, youth, young adults, adults and elders as Director of Lifespan Religious Education at Toronto First.

Reflecting on her early involvement as a young adult attending our Niagara and Hamilton congregations with her two young children, Angela credits these experiences with transforming the way her family engages with each other and the world. The key motivator for Angela’s work is to provide opportunities for similar experiences among all who attend our lifespan programs.

Angela has worked in the health care and non-profit sectors supporting both new ventures and legacy voluntary organizations. With an educational background in Classics and Business Administration, certificates in Volunteer Management, Congregational Leadership & Conflict Management and training in convening and facilitation, Angela served as Program Director at First Unitarian Congregation of Hamilton for four years before joining our staff team.

Angela loves to spend time in the kitchen, outdoors, making music and with family and friends.

As a white, university educated, cis-gender woman from a middle class, Protestant background Angela understands and accepts all facets of her identity as both assets and limitations to her work in the world.

ArtShow

Sunderland Hall, our main worship space, is an ideal place for showing artwork. The large skylight and high ceilings enhance the room while the gallery space has its own lighting to allow the works to be shown to their best advantage.

We also have a smaller display area in our library, where art from our members is displayed for up to two months.

The artists who display their work in these spaces often offer some pieces for sale, with a small percentage of the price going to the congregation. Please contact the artist if you are interested in purchasing a work.

Artists interested in exhibiting their work in our Sunderland Hall gallery are invited to contact the Arts Committee chair by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Art in October: Phyllis Gordon

Parsons Lake Road No. 2 46 cm x 31 cm carving and ink on wood 1Phyllis Gordon’s art practice is based in drawing, collage, painting and printmaking. Her work reflects a strong connection to the natural world, particularly forests and trees.

Threatened Forests is a contemplation on the very immediate transformation to the land that we now face. It offers glimpses of the vigour and lightness of healthy trees alongside images of burning forests and the desolate and vulnerable trees that have survived fire. Gordon has spent considerable time directly observing the impacts of fire, intensified by global warming. This exhibit features ink drawings on paper and carved drawings/paintings on wood. 

Gordon is a Toronto-based visual artist who regularly exhibits in solo and juried groups in the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario. 

Join us for the opening reception and artist talk in Sunderland Hall on Sunday, October 20 from noon to 1 pm. 

The exhibit continues to October 27. 

This Year’s Shows

The following shows will be held in Sunderland Hall in 2019:

Month Artist Show Dates Reception
  (12 pm)
Learn More
January Willowdale Artists Group Jan 6-27 January 6 willowdaleartists.com
February Sheryl Keen Feb 3-24 February 3 sherylkeen.com
March Members and friends of First March 3-31 March 3
April York Artists Guild April 7-28 April 7 yorkartistsguild.weebly.com
May Bill Ross and Randall Brown May 5-26 May 5  
June Rama Fayaz June 2 - July 14 June 9 Rama Painting
July & August Avenue Road Arts School July 16 - Sept 4   AvenueRoadArtsSchool.com
September Jeff Mann Sept 8 - 29 Sept 8 jeffmannart.com
October Phyllis Gordon Oct 6-27 October 20 phyllisgordonart.com
November Sereen Azizz Nov 3 - Dec 1 November 3 instagram.com/sereenscape
December Indigenous artist Debra Vincent Dec 8 - Jan 5 December 8 debravincent.com

 

Previous Years' Shows

The following shows were held in Sunderland Hall in 2018:

Month Artist Show Dates Reception
  (12 pm)
Learn More
January Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy Jan 7-28 January 14 (Fundraiser) escarpment.ca
February Ato Seitu Feb 4-25 February 4 inkphy.com/tag/atoseit
March Members and friends of First March 4-25 March 4 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
April York Artists Guild April 8-29 April 8 YorkArtistsGuild.ca
May Joanna Strong May 6-27 May 6 joannastrong.ca
June Lucinda Vandenieuwegiessen
Colin van Zwijndregt
June 3-24 June 3 saatchiart.com/vandenieuwegiessen
July & August Avenue Road Arts School June 28-Sept 3   AvenueRoadArtsSchool.com
September Susanne Clark   September 9 susanneclark.com
October Susan L. Brown   October 7  
November Martin Myers   November 4 martinmyers.ca
December Métis artist Louise Lefebvre   December 9 mountaindrummer.wixsite.com/spiritcougarlefebvre

 

The following shows were held in Sunderland Hall in 2017:

Month Artist Learn More
January Michael Battenberg MichaelBattenberg.com
February Jordan Clarke JordanClarke.ca
March Members and friends of First
April York Artists Guild YorkArtistsGuild.ca
May Nancy Bennett NancyBennett.ca
June Irene Sakata IreneSakataArts.com
July & August Avenue Road Arts School AvenueRoadArtsSchool.com
September Carmel Bouzanne CarmelBouzanne.com
October Barbara de Beaupré  
November Nick Biagini DigitalConsciousness.com/galleries/NickBiagini
December Joseph Sagaj
Keitha Keeshig-Tobias
muskratmagazine.com/joseph-sagaj
bizindam.com

 

The following shows were held in 2016:

Month Artist Learn More
January Palette Expressions Group  
February Clayton King, Indigenous artist WhiteBearArt.com
March Members and Friends of First  
April York Artists' Guild YorkArtistsGuild.ca
May John Visser JohnVisserArt.com
June Susan Farquhar susanfarquhar5.wordpress.com
www.SusanFarquhar.ca
July & August Artists’ Network
September Steve Rose SteveRose.ca
October Shir Libeynu ShirLibeynu.ca
November Jean Galt, Wendy Ounpuu  & Wendy Dines  
December Aboriginal Art  

 

The following shows were held in 2015:

Month Artist Learn More
January Michael Battenberg MichaelBattenberg.com
February Judith Donoahue, Carol Harrison  
March Members and Friends of First  
April York Artists' Guild YorkArtistsGuild.ca
May D.D. Gadjanski ddgadjanski.com
June Randall Brown  
July & August 10 Artists from the Don Valley Art Club www.donvalleyartclub.com
September Shir Libeynu Shirlibeynu.ca
October Barbara de Beaupré
November David Connolly  
December Amnesty International: In/visible Scars Amnesty.ca

 

 

Our Lay Pastors are specially trained and commissioned volunteer members of the congregation who extend the ministry of the congregation by creating a safe space for deep listening and reflection by any member or friend who requests support. Lay Pastors provide a safe space for spiritual discernment and growth, offering compassionate listening and presence.

Our Lay Pastors are Jeanne VanBronkhorst and Michael Stroh. Among them, they have backgrounds in social work and theology. They also have extensive experience and training in pastoral care. They are dedicated and well-equipped to help meet the growing pastoral and spiritual needs of our congregation. After many years of service as a Lay Pastor, Allan Brand now provides his support as Lay Pastor Emeritus.

To arrange meetings with a lay pastor you can contact them directly at their phone numbers listed in the Congregational Directory (available to members) or by email:

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Redirecting to https://firstunitarian.wufoo.com/forms/pledge-campaign-for-2020/.

The easiest ways to make a one-time donation to
Toronto First are PayPal or CanadaHelps.
   Donate using
PayPal
   Donate using
CanadaHelps
 

Pledges for Ongoing Giving

We are very grateful for the ongoing generosity of our members and friends who make financial contributions to support our programs and operations. First Unitarian Toronto is a registered Canadian charity (851846816 RR0001) and issues annual tax receipts.

There are many convenient ways to make a donation and we invite you to use whichever method or combination of methods are best suited to you.

If you are ready and able to give regularly to First, you are probably ready and able to participate in what we call “Pledging”. Our annual Pledge Drive occurs in the fall, when we provide our members and friends with information about this critical process for sustaining our congregation and planning our annual budget.

We ask members and friends to indicate ( i.e., “pledge”) an amount they are committed to giving over the course of the coming year. This stated financial commitment from each member, paid periodically, allows us to plan staffing and programs knowing there will be sufficient funds. If you give regularly (monthly, quarterly, annually) you will provide us with a predictable income. Of course, the amount is up to you; we invite you to give at a level that fits your circumstances and your values.

We understand that circumstances can change and pledges can't always be fulfilled. We ask that you please advise This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you must make a change to your pledge so we can adjust our cash flow expectations accordingly.

You can create a pledge at any time using the confidential secure online pledge form.  Or if you prefer to use a paper form, you can download it, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Ways to Donate

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if you have any questions about your donations.

If you donate at least $20 in a year, you will normally receive a tax receipt from First Unitarian in February covering the full amount you donated  in the previous year. It will come either by email (if we have your email address) or by Canada Post. 

If you donate via PayPal or CanadaHeelps, the tax receipt will be generated by those sites.

Donate in the Collection Basket

  • When you put a donation in the collection basket during the Sunday service, whether by cash or cheque, 100% of your donation comes to First Unitarian.

Donate using post-dated cheques

  • If you prefer to pay by cheque, you could leave a set of post-dated cheques with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Donate using debit from your bank account

  • When you donate via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), 100% of your donation comes to First Unitarian.
  • We can set up a recurring donation on your schedule (monthly, quarterly, every two months).
  • Please provide your bank information on our secure pledge form or by giving a void cheque to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leaving it in the collection basket. You could also email a photo of a void cheque.

Donate using your credit card

  • First Unitarian supports donations using either Visa or Mastercard.
  • When you donate via your credit card, the card takes a processing fee. 95-97% of your donation comes to First Unitarian. Please consider adding 3% to cover the fees.
  • We can set up a recurring donation on your schedule (monthly, quarterly, every two months)
  • Please provide your credit card information on our secure pledge form or by giving the information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Donate via Paypal

  • When you donate via PayPal, 100% of your donation comes to First Unitarian. (Paypal started waiving their fee for charitable donations in October 2018.) Learn more at PayPal.ca/GiveBack
  • Your tax receipt will come from Paypal Giving Fund Canada with one email per donation.
  • Paypal does not support automatic recurring donations.
  • Donate online via PayPal. You can also use the PayPal app on your phone.

Donate via CanadaHelps

  • When you donate via CanadaHelps, there is a processing fee of 3.5%, so 96.5% of your donation comes to First Unitarian. Learn more at CanadaHelps.ca.
  • CanadaHelps supports automatic monthly donations.
  • Your tax receipt will be available on CanadaHelps.ca. You can get one receipt for all your donations for a year.
  • Donate online via CanadaHelps

Donate by Transferring Securities

  • Giving stock directly to First may be more prudent than selling stock and giving cash because there may be tax advantages related to capital gains.  
  • Please contact your financial advisor to confirm the best arrangements for you. Use our Stock Transfer Form.

Estate Planning

  • Planned Giving is a way to express your support for First after you are gone. Read more about how to make your wishes known and select the most suitable way for you to plan this type of gift.

Deciding How Much to Give

We invite you to make a decision that suits your circumstances and your values. All levels of giving are welcome and you will not be questioned about your own decision. As points of reference, we suggest you consider: many UU congregations recommend 3% of pre-tax annual household income as a meaningful personal commitment. First is a completely self-funded community with an annual operating budget of approximately $600,000.

How First Raises Money

 

First’s operating budget supports our mission to Seek Freely, Connect Authentically, and Serve Passionately. The following pie chart represents our spending from an outcomes perspective. Each slice of the pie includes the direct costs of the outcomes and services listed, plus a share of the indirect costs of our overall infrastructure (i.e. staff, insurance, equipment, etc.) All of our outcomes are also greatly enriched by the many uncharted hours of effort and talent provided by volunteers:

Spending our Money

Pause your mouse pointer over sections of this chart to see what that spending pays for,
or click on the chart to learn more:

How much should I plan to give each year?

The amount you pledge is a personal decision, but we ask that you consider 5% of your pre-tax income. Many religious communities ask their members to pledge 10% (this is called tithing). Many of our members pledge 5% or more, and some tithe.

The following table will give you a sense of the financial contributions made by other members.

In 2018, 219 households pledged a total of $375,000 for our operating budget.

  Amount pledged for 2018 Number of pledges 
          <$250 23
  $250 to $499 26
  $500 to $999 47
  $1000 to $1799 49
  $1800 to $2499 26
  $2500 to $4999 30
  $5000 and up 18

Please consider beginning at a level that is manageable for you, then increasing your giving as you are able.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill


Get more information about Becoming a Member.

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