What We Do Here
Issues and Ideas
In the Library, now usually on the fourth Sunday of each month, from 12:15 to 1:30 one or two facilitators initiate our discussion of a selected topic by each presenting a 20 minute review of a relevant book from our collection, followed by questions and discussion open to all.
Sample topics are Unitarian history, defining the sacred, peace and social justice, interfaith dialogue, feminist perspectives, mysticism, science and religion.
If you’ve ever wished to explore faith matters further by reading, why not drop in on that book review circle. You’re not expected to read the book beforehand (though perhaps you will want to afterwards).
Please cast your mind ahead to the themes for our next season:
- January – Creation
- February – Love & Justice
- March– Simplicity
- April – Resistance
- May – Compassion
Past Book Talks: (Some reviewer's names are linked to the texts of their talks.)
Dinner Series 2017
The 2017 Spring Dinner Series is here with an exciting roster of dinners.
Come as a guest. Leave as a friend!
The Dinner Series is a fundraiser for the congregation offering opportunities to get to know one another better in small gatherings in members’ homes. Guests pay to attend and the money all goes to First.
Hosts are eligible for a tax receipt for their expenses.
The youth group at Toronto First meets every other Sunday during service (10:30am to noon), September through June, in room 306. This group is empowerment-focused and youth-driven. Anyone aged 14 to 20 who is interested in meeting new people, joining in discussions, experiencing youth-oriented worship, and organizing or participating in other fun youth events is welcome to join us. As well, we travel together to attend other U*U events, workshops, and conferences: this past year as close as Toronto's east end and as far away as New York City. Our programming is supported by adult advisors, but is largely self directed.
For 2014/15 we will be focusing on planning a social conference for other U*U youth, as well as attending the Canadian national youth conference in Ottawa in May!
Currently on hiatus for the summer, our first official meeting back will be September 21st, followed by a pizza lunch and discussion for youth and parents after service.
For more information about youth ministry at the national level, please visit the CUC Youth Ministry page.
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.
Art in February
Jordan Clarke uses the female form to explore themes of self and identity. A mixed-race woman, she uses her background to explore and question identity and all the contradictions that come with being mixed-race. The central focus of her work is empowerment through self-representation.
Something In-between invites us to see ourselves and each other in new ways. By forming a strong black identity, one that is inclusive and celebrates individual uniqueness and diversity, Clarke calls us to rise above the divisive colonial legacy of shadeism.
"The women in my paintings are aware, confident, and empowered in their skin. They are affirming what is true for them — they are a collective of Black self-love".
Jordan Clarke is a Toronto-based artist.
The exhibit runs in Sunderland Hall from February 5 until February 26.
Art in March
First Unitarian has a long tradition of celebrating our artists, dating back to Arthur Lismer of the Group of Seven.
All are invited to view the excellent creative work produced by our members and friends, from March 5 to March 26, 2017.
Please join us on Sunday March 5 for our opening reception, from noon to 1 pm.
Library Exhibit: Indigo and Rust
This exhibit of fabric art by Linda Heron is in the Library during March and April 2017.
Linda says: I have always loved to stitch since childhood. Quilting began for me in 1978 and continues to this day, but with the explosion of contemporary textile works, I became interested in using hand-dyed fabric, especially the magic indigo, and lately other local natural dyes and rusting. I love to work with the organic patterns that emerge. Adding hand stitch is slow and meditative and very satisfying. Inspiration comes from Nature herself and beautiful traditional textiles I’m exposed to as a volunteer at the Textile Museum of Canada.
|January||Michael Battenberg||Jan 8-29||January 2||michaelbattenberg.com|
|February||Jordan Clarke||Feb 5-26||February 5||jordanclarke.ca|
|March||Members and friends of First||March 5-26||March 5|
|April||York Artists Guild||April 2-30||April 2||yorkartistsguild.weebly.com|
|May||Nancy Bennett||May 7-28||May 7||nancybennett.ca|
|June||Irene Sakata||June 4-25||June 5||irenesakataarts.com|
|July & August||Avenue Road Arts School||July 2 - Sept 3||avenueroadartsschool.com|
|September||Simon Schneiderman||Sept 10 - Oct 1||Sept 10||lipmanart.com/blog/simon-schneiderman-1/
(co-sponsored with Shir Libeynu)
|October||Barbara de Beaupré||Oct 8-29||October 8|
|November||Nick Biagini||Nov 5-26||November 5||digitalconsciousness.com/galleries/NickBiagini|
|December||First Nations Art||Dec 3-31||December 3|
The following shows were held in Sunderland Hall in 2016:
|January||Palette Expressions Group|
|February||Clayton King Aboriginal artist||WhiteBearArt.com|
|March||Members and Friends of First|
|April||York Artists' Guild||YorkArtistsGuild.ca|
|July & August||Artists’ Network|
|November||Jean Galt, Wendy Ounpuu & Wendy Dines|
Shows in 2015
The following shows were held in 2015:
|February||Judith Donoahue, Carol Harrison|
|March||Members and Friends of First|
|April||York Artists' Guild||YorkArtistsGuild.ca|
|July & August||10 Artists from the Don Valley Art Club||www.donvalleyartclub.com|
|October||Barbara de Beaupré|
|December||Amnesty International: In/visible Scars||Amnesty.ca|
Giving to First
First Unitarian relies on donations. We are very grateful to members and friends for their gifts to our community. The generous support we receive maintains our treasured institution where we live into our mission to Build a Better World. We know that our community Changes Lives and can change the world.
Annual Pledge Drive
Members of Unitarian congregations are asked to support their congregation with a pledged donation each year. At First, our Pledge Drive is in the fall. (Read about this year's campaign, and about our special 3-year Momentum Campaign). We ask members and friends to indicate (to “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. The amount is up to you. Unitarian Universalist congregations generally endorse 3% of annual pre-tax household income as a benchmark pledge level for those who are able. We invite you to make a decision that fits your circumstances and your values.
Payments can be made by cheque, cash, or automated deposit from your bank account (this last method is most preferred due to its reliability and regularity.)
We know circumstances can change and pledges can't always be fulfilled. We understand and ask that you simply advise the congregation’s Bookkeeper if you must make a change to your pledge so we can adjust our cash flow expectations accordingly.
The Annual Pledge Drive to fill the 2017 Operating Fund has already begun, and will run from October 2 to November 6. This year, our themes are Sustainability and Momentum, and we are asking members and friends to:
- Sustain the value of your existing Operating pledges by adding 2.5% to the amount to keep pace with inflation;
- Continue to pay into your existing 3-year Momentum pledge;
- Use the easy, confidential, online pledging form;
- If required, add or update your banking information by contacting our bookkeeper Marsha Michael.
To sustain both our Operating and Momentum Funds, we are also aiming to bring many new friends and members into the pledging process. Every year we lose some pledges due to natural life circumstances. At the same time, we welcome new members and friends into our community. If you have not pledged previously, you can learn more about this important act of generosity and commitment. Team Generosity loves to talk about this part of our fellowship! Please contact us anytime.
Pledging can be paperless, saving hundreds of dollars previously spent on stationary and postage and many hours of volunteer and staff time. Via email members and friends receive a link to an online pledging form where they can enter pledge information quickly and confidentially. That form has basic encryption to protect private information, and we don’t ask for bank account or credit card numbers online. Responses are added to our membership database and enable Team Generosity to monitor pledge drive results.
Not sure how much to pledge? Please consider these points of reference when making a decision that fits your circumstances and your values. We respect your privacy in this process - individual pledge amounts are treated as confidential and access is limited to only those who need to know. One-time donations are received with gratitude at any time and can be made by contributing a cheque or cash in an identified envelope during Sunday services or at the church office, or by donating online via Canada Helps.
Learn more about how we manage our money.
Deciding How Much to Pledge
Thank you for thinking about an annual pledge to First. Pledging tells our staff and elected leaders what resources they will have available for programs and services during the year. We invite you to make a decision that suits your circumstances and your values. As points of reference, we suggest you consider First’s annual operating budget and the recommended Unitarian Universalist practice: 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 $500,000:
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:
Pause your mouse pointer over sections of this chart to see what that spending pays for,
or click on the chart to learn more:
Pledging as a Percentage of Income
The following chart provides a range of possible pledge levels based on different incomes and different choices about portion of income dedicated to the congregation. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations recommend 3% of pre-tax household income as a meaningful benchmark for many congregants:
One Time Donations
A one-time donation may be made conveniently through Canada Helps.
Other Ways of Giving
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.
First also welcomes donations of publicly traded securities. Such gifts can be not only a great benefit for First, but may also offer a welcome tax break for the donor. Giving stock directly to First may be more prudent than selling the stock and then giving the cash to First. Here’s why:
- Say that 10 years ago you bought shares in a corporation for $15,000. Now that stock has a market value of $20,000 and now you want to give $20,000 to First. If you sold the stock, you would have to pay taxes on the capital gain of $5000 ($20,000 [the sale price]) minus $15,000 [the price you paid]). That might be as much as $1,000 or more. Thus after taxes you would have less than $20,000; say, $19,000 to give to First. On your taxes you would claim that $19,000 on your taxes as a donation.
- Now let’s say you didn’t sell the stock but instead gave it to First. In that case you would not have to pay the capital gains tax. First would receive the full $20,000 in stock you would claim a donation of $20,000 on your taxes. Please contact your financial advisor to confirm the best arrangements for you.
- You may also choose to give some, but not all shares. In this example, you might decide to give $10,000 in stock and keep the rest. Remember that you get a tax advantage only if there is a capital gain. If the shares have lost value, it is probably more advantageous to you sell the shares, take a capital loss, and donate the cash. A gift of mutual funds might also be exempt from a capital gains tax. Again, please confirm the best course of action with your financial advisor.