What We Do Here

Food Table

On Sunday November 18 from 12 to 3 pm, young-ish UUs in their 20s and 30s will be gathering for lunch & conversation. There you will be able to:

  • Meet new friends and renew acquaintances.
  • Get to know congregational leaders who can offer a listening ear or help you get more connected.
  • Spend time with Rev. Shawn Newton, and our national Youth & Young Adult Specialist, Asha Philar.
  • Tell us what makes you feel welcome at First Unitarian.
  • Tell us what would make you feel more welcome.
  • Find out how to connect with our monthly Young Adult Dinner series.
  • Pick up free items to help you show your UU pride.
  • Everyone is welcome.

    In Shaw Hall on the ground floor.

    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:

    • October: Abundance
    • November: Courage
    • December: Hope
    • January: Intention
    • February: Endurance
    • March: Balance
    • April: Emergence
    • May: Creativity

    If you wish to suggest a topic, or a book you’d like to review, please contact the coordinator by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Past Book Talks: (Some reviewers’ names are linked to the texts of their talks.)

    Date Topic Talks
    May 27, 2018 Embodiment
    • Peter Brydon on The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
    • Ellen Campbell on Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    April 22, 2018 Change/Transformation
    • Nancy Lee on One Native Life by Richard Wagamese
    • Fred Lautenschlaeger on Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein
    March 4, 2018 Interdependence
    • Bill Belfontaine on Scarborough: a Novel by Catherine Hernandez
    • Beth Guthrie on The Refugee/Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada by Benjamin Drew
    January 28, 2018 Prophecy
    • Herb Wright on No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein
    • Terri Palmer on Henry David Thoreau's 1849 pamphlet Civil Disobedience
    December 17, 2017 Presence
    • Sorlie Madox on The Enjoyment of Tea by Sen Genshitsu
    • Lynn Hughes on The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett
    November 26, 2017 Identity
    • Helen Kong on One Day We'll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
    • Kimberly Watson on The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Lifes by Kenneth Gergen
    October 28, 2017 Healing
    • Jack Dodds on My People, Myself by Mary Lawrence
    • Ahmed Elham on The Kite Runner edited by Khaled Hosseini
    September 24, 2017 Promise/Covenant
    • Peter Hughes on Walking Together by Conrad Wright
    • Gerta Moray on Turning Point: Essays on a New Unitarian Universalism edited by Frederic Muir (ed)
    May 28, 2017 Compassion
    • Gillian Burton on The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion by Sharon Salzberg
    April 23, 2017 Resistance
    • Claude Marchand on Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
    March 26, 2017 Simplicity
    • Lynn Hughes on The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in America Culture by David Shi
    • Danielle Webber on Everyday Spiritual Practice: Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life by Scott W. Alexander
    February 19, 2017 Love and Justice
    • Nancy Lee on In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation edited by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail
    • Bill Belfontaine on The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu
    January 22, 2017 Creation
    • Fred Lautenschlaeger on Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
    • Ruth Tait on The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
    December 4, 2016 Expectation
    • Lynn Hughes on Christ for Unitarian Universalists by Scotty McLennan
    • Gerta Moray on Mystical Landscapes exhibit at Art Gallery of Ontario
    November 6, 2016 Blessing
    • Lorraine Wilson on Blessings: Prayers and Declarations for a Heartful Life by Julia Cameron
    • Herb Wright on The Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenaar
    October 2, 2016 Letting Go
    • Judy Magney on Learning To Fall - The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by by Philip Simmons
    • Terri Palmer onThe Waste Makers by Vance Packard
    September 11, 2016 Invitation
    • Peter Hughes on introductions to UUism
    May 1, 2016 Tradition
    • Lynn Hughes on Thoreau as Spiritual Guide and Emerson as Spiritual Guide by Barry Andrews
    • Carol Damioli on the essay Western Secularity by Charles Taylor in Rethinking Secularism, edited by Craig Calhoun et al
    April 3, 2016 Revelation
    • Michael Battenberg on The Search for Meaning: A Short History by Dennis Ford
    • Peter Hughes on Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation by Elaine Pagels
    March 6, 2016 Renewal
    • Ellen Campbell on The Selma Awakening by Mark Morrison-Reid
    • Lorraine Wilson on Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life in the Engineered Society of the Future by Paulette Regan
    February 7, 2016 Reconciliation
    • Jeanne VanBronkhorst on her new book Dreams at the End of Life
    • Lee Doran on Unsettling the Settler Within by Paulette Regan
    January 10, 2016 Resilience
    • Claude Marchand on An Joseph Anton: A Memoir (2013) by Salmon Rushdie
    • Lee Doran on Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2011)
    December 6, 2015 Wonder
    • Stephanie Gannon on An Altar in the World (2010) by Barbara Brown Taylor
    • Gerta Moray on Walden by David Henry Thoreau
    November 1, 2015 Integrity
    • Beth Guthrie on The Deserter's Tale by war resister Josh Key (with the help of Lawrence Hill)
    • Gilbert Salgado on The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (2012)
    October 18, 2015 Grace
    • Tanya Cothran on Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness And Making Miracles by Marianne Williamson
    • Claude Marchand on Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
    September 13 2015 Promise
    • Lynn Hughes on A House for Hope by John Buehrens and Rebecca Ann Parker in Rethinking Secularism, edited by Craig Calhoun et al
    • Peter Hughes on Walking Together by Conrad Wright
    May 3, 2015 Story/Stories
    • Fred Lautenschlaeger on Aesop's Fables
    • Claude Marchand on The Truth About Stories (2003) by Thomas King
    April 12, 2015 Sustainability
    • Doug Campbell on The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality (2011) by Richard Heinberg
    • Peter Brydon on This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
    March 1, 2015 Freedom
    • Tanya Cothran on The Spirit and Forms of Freedom in On Being Human Religiously by James Luther Adams
    February 8, 2015 Evolution
    • Curtis Murphy on Revolutionaries: Unlocking the Cultural and Spiritual Potential of Science's Greatest Idea by Carter Phipps
    • Michael Battenbergon The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1992, repr 2005) by Jared Diamond
    January 11, 2015 Character
    • Daniel Deller on The Soul’s Code by James Hilman
    • Peter Hughes on Character from Emerson’s Essays, Second Series (1844)
    December 14, 2015 Embodiment
    • Ben Robins on Body, Spirit and Democracy by Don Hanlon Johnson
    • Gerta Moray on Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Ageing (2013) by Lynn Segal
    November 2, 2014 Vulnerability
    October 5, 2014 Awakening
    • Lorraine Wilson on Awakening by Surya Das
    • Avril Siddle on For Joshua by Richard Wagamese
    September 7, 2014 Kinship
    • Peter Hughes on Universalism: A Family Religion from the Journal of UU History
    • Lynn Hughes on Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante
    June 1, 2014 Play
    • Louise Joseph on Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart by Kornfield & Feldman
    May 4, 2014 Honesty
    • Doug Campbell on The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life by Austin Dacey
    • Daniel Deller on Days of Destruction by Chris Hedges
    April 6, 2014 Wonder
    March 2, 2014 Knowing
    • Doug Campbell on How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West by Perez Zagorin
    • Peter Hughes on Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism: Channing-Emerson-Parker by Conrad Wright.
    February 2, 2014 Passion
    January 5, 2014 Discipline
    • Tanya Cothran on Simply Pray by Eric Walker Wikstrom.
    • Meghan Edmonds on Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor.
    November 3, 2013 Courage
    • Michael Battenberg on The Courage To Be by Paul Tillich.
    • Gillian Burton on A Year to Live (1998) by Steven Levine.
    October 6, 2013 Purpose
    • Ted Wood on A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (2006) by Eckhart Tolle.
    • Gerta Moray on The Prophethood of All Believers (1985) by James Luther Adams.
    September 9, 2013 Listening
    • Janice Tait on Ego, hunger and aggression (1969) by Nahlah Ayed.
    • Faye Perkins on Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup.
    June 9, 2013 Perspectives on the Middle East
    • Claude Marchand on A Thousand Farewells by Nahlah Ayed, and The World As It Is by Chris Hedges.
    May 5, 2013 Outstanding Unitarian Women
    • Lynn Hughes on The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography by John Matteson.
    • Gerta Moray on Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-Century Woman by Caroline Healey Dall.
    April 28, 2013 Confronting Death
    • Wanda Morris on Death with Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia by Robert Orfali.
    • Jeanne VanBronkhorst on Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life by Ira Byock.
    April 7, 2013 Life Strategies
    • Stan Yack on The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
    • Margaret Rao on Navigating the Coming Chaos: A Handbook for Inner Transition by Carolyn Baker.
    March 3, 2013 Meditation and the Brain
    • Lorraine Wilson on The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
    • Gillian Burton on Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley.
    February 3, 2013 Powers of the Unconscious
    • Mary Armstrong discusses her book Trauma Therapist, A Memoir of Healing and Transformation.
    • Gillian Bramwell on Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behaviour by Leonard Mlodivnow.
    January 6, 2013 Anthropology of Religion
    • Michael Battenberg on Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer.
    • Jack Dodds on In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion by Scott Atran.
    December 2, 2012 The Basis of Morality
    • Fred Lautenschlager on The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.
    • Doug Campbell on Can We Be Good Without God? by Rob Buckman.
    November 4, 2012 The Historic Jesus
    • Peter Hughes on Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman.
    • Eleanor Johnston on The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault.
    June 3, 2012 Liberal Religion Before Alain De Botton
    • Peter Hughes on A People’s History of Unitarian Universalism by John Buehrens.
    • Doug Campbell on God's Dog: Conversations With Coyote by Webster Kitchell.
    May 6, 2012 Between Hope and Dismay
    • Claude Marchand on The Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker.
    • Doug Campbell on Time for Outrage by Stephane Hessel.
    April 1, 2012 Spiritual Journeys
    • Lorraine Wilson on My Spiritual Journey by Dalai Lama.
    • Diane Wagner on My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor.
    March 11, 2012 Religion, Philosophy and Neuroscience
    • Gill Bramwell on Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality by Patricia S. Churchland.
    • Ted Wood on Why God Won't Go Away, Brain Science & The Biology of Belief by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili and Vince Rause.
    February 5, 2012 Reflections in Captivity by Social Activists
    • Elizabeth Guthrie on Captivity: 118 Days in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War by James Loney.
    • Janet Hall on Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt.
    January 8, 2012 Unitarians on the Political Path
    • Carl Baar on Stephen Fritchman: The American Unitarians and Communism: A History with Documents by Charles Eddis.
    • Margaret Vandenbrouke on The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
    December 4, 2011 Unitarian Insights From Science
    • Fred Lautenschlaeger on his new publication The God Deception - Our Sun shines Light on the Path Towards Peace among Abrahamic Religions.
    • Gerta Moray on Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson Jr.
    November 6, 2011 Our Histories
    • Lynn Hughes on Guarding Sacred Embers: Reflections on Canadian Unitarian and Universalist History [published in 2011 by the Canadian Unitarian and Universalist Historical Society].
    • Janice Tait on Invisible Influence: Claiming Canadian Unitarian and Universalist Women's History ed. Jean Pfleiderer, Heather Fraser Fawcett, and Kathy S. Sage
    June 5, 2011 Spiritual Autobiography
    • Lynn Hughes on The Confessions of St. Augustine by Patricia S. Churchland.
    • Gerta Moray on Hundreds and Thousands: the Journals of Emily Carr.
    May 1, 2011 National Memory and Social Justice
    • Ronnie Rusk on Long Shadows by Erna Paris by Patricia S. Churchland.
      This book explores how countries manipulate their history, confront painful episodes in their past and try to resolve a sense of guilt and responsibility by bringing about justice.
    • Alan Brand on I Shall Not Hate by Dr. Izeldeed Abuelaish.
      This book argues for implementing tolerance as an alternative to trying to invent justice.
    April 3, 2011 Myth and Insight
    • Janice Tait on Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts by Wendy Doninger O’Flaherty .
      This book examines conceptions of the relationship between women and men as expressed in the animal symbols and sexual metaphors of Hindu mythology.
    • Lorraine Wilson on The Sh'ma and Its Blessings by Dr. Izeldeed. Abuelaish, an intriguing look at 2.000 years of insight and commentary on the oldest and best known Jewish prayer.
    March 6, 2011 Ethics in a Secular Age
    • Fred Lautenschlaeger on The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris.
    • Sarah Sackville McLauchlan on The End of Ethics in a Technological Society by Lawrence E. Schmidt.
    January 9, 2011 Economics and Social Justice
    • Camla Draven on Economics for Everyone by Jim Stanford.
    • Peter Brydon on Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations by Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas.
    June 13, 2010 Buddhist Perspectives
    • Chris Moore on How To Know Yourself by the Dalai Lama.
    • Peter Brydon on Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations by Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas.
    May 2, 2010 Feminism
    • Janice Tait on ReVisions: Seeing Torah Through a Feminist Lens by Rabbi Elise Goldstein.
    • Kate Chung on Raging Grannies
    April 11, 2010 Environment and Global Social Issues
    • Claude Marchand on Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown.
    March 7, 2010 Unitarians and Reformation History
    • Marvin Anderson on Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe by Benjamin J. Kaplan.
    • Peter Hughes previews his forthcoming book Declaratio: A Revelation of Jesus Christ Son of God by Matteo Gribaldi (previously attributed to Michael Servetus).
    February 7, 2010 Meditation and the Brain
    • Lorraine Wilson on My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen.
    January 10, 2010 Is There Moral Progress?
    • Doug Campbell on Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History by Erna Paris, a book that confronts the 20th century's worst tragedies.
    • Larry Wulff on In Between: Memoir of an Integration Baby by Mark Morrison-Reed.
    December 6, 2009 Liberal Islam
    • Lynn Hughes on on a book of essays on Muslim liberals.
    • Gerta Moray onWestern Muslims and the Future of Islam by Tariq Ramadan.
    November 6, 2009 Science and Soul
    • Gill Bramwell onThe Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate by Adam Frank.
    • Lorraine Wilson onThe Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary.
    October 4, 2009 Faith and Service
    • June Sanderson on a biography of Lotta Hitschmanova.
    • Eryl Court on a biography of Lester Pearson.
    May 3, 2009 The Anthropology of Religion
    • Chiara Catterwell on the University of Toronto’s current course offering on this interesting topic.
    April 5, 2009 Social Action – Heeding the Call
    • Kate Chung on Off Our Rockers – and into Trouble: The Story of the Raging Grannies by Alison Acke and Betty Brightwell.
    • Steve Watson on Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar by Mario Monia Mazigh.
    March 1, 2009 The Challenge Of Atheism – Some Recent Replies
    • Gerta Moray on I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008) by Chris Hedges.
    • Doug Campbell on Dawkins' GOD: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life by Alister E. McGrath.
    February 1, 2009 What Does the Environment Want?
    • Janice Tait on The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock.
    • John Cummings on Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning by George Monbiot. [Recent books like An Inconvenient Truth explain what we're doing to cause global warming and the catastrophes it will soon cause. Heat is devoted entirely to answering the question “What do we do to stop it?”]
    January 4, 2009 Spirituality and Healing
    • Lorraine Wilson on Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen.
    • Gillian Burton on When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult by Pema Chodron.
    December 7, 2008 The Art of Union with Reality – A Discussion of Mysticism
    • Lynn Hughes on Practical Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill.
    • Ronnie Rusk on Daoism, A Beginner’s Guide by James Miller.
    November 2, 2008 Scientific Hypotheses on Religion
    • Michael Battenberg on Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason and Religion by Stuart Kauffman [Kauffman is a complexity theorist out of Calgary who is interested in the evolution of complex systems].
    • Gill Bramwellon The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired Into Our Genes by Dean H. Hamer.
    October 6, 2008 Discovering Unitarian History
    • Peter Hughes, editor of the new online Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography, talks about this publication.
    • Gerta Moray on Unitarians in Canada by Philip Hewett (2nd ed. 1995).
    May 4, 2008 Claims of Justice and the Environment
    • Margaret Rao on Blessed Unrest, How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken.
    April 6, 2008 What Does Buddhism Offer Unitarians?
    • Janice Tait on Buddha by Karen Armstrong.
    • Lorraine Wilson on Embracing the Beloved: Relationship as a Path of Awakening by Stephen and Ondrea Levine.
    February 10, 2008 The Challenge Of Non-Violence and Pacifism
    • Lynn Gordon Hughes on Christian Non-Resistance (1846) by Adin Ballou. [Adin Ballou was a 19th century Unitarian whose writings inspired Tolstoy and Gandhi.]
    • Gerta Moray on on Angela Gordon and Tobias T. Gibson, “The Fist of Pacifism,” from Justice and Violence: Political Violence and Cultural Transformation, edited by Allan Eickelmann et al.
    January 6, 2008 Problems with ‘God’
    • Rod McLeod on God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.
    • Sue McLeod on Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.
    December 9, 2007 Meeting Other Faiths
    • Doug Campbell on Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras by Diana Eck.
    • Ellen Campbell on The World's Religions by Huston Smith.
    November 4, 2007 The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women
    • Gilliam Bramwell on The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women by S. R. Anderson & P. Hopkins.
    • Niki de Villiers on The Politics of Women’s Spirituality by Charlene Spretnak.
    October 7, 2007 Why Read Unitarian History?
    • Gerta Moray on For Faith and Freedom: A Short History of Unitarianism by Charles A. Howe.
    • Marcia Bell on a book on USA Unitarians/Transcendentalists.

    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. Read the Adult Program Guide.

    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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss it.

    Read the complete Adult Program Guide for Fall 2017.


    Belonging and Congregational Life
    Newcomer Information Meetings The first Sunday of every month at 11:45 am
    “At First” Sessions

    Are you new to First Unitarian, or ready to revitalize your connection with the congregation? This is a friendly and informative way to learn more about our community and the UU tradition. Ideal for those preparing for membership, At First provide a way to connect with others, present an engaging introduction to Unitarian Universalism, and offer a time to reflect on your unique life’s calling. All are welcome and lunch is provided.

    Note: You can attend At First sessions in any order, and they are not a prerequisite for membership at First Unitarian.

    3 Sundays, 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.  Spirit Play Room (206); Light lunch is provided.  $5 donation suggested.

    • At First Seek - September 24 and February 11: An Introduction to UU History, Our Principles and Sources
    • At First Connect - October 22 and March 25: Sunday Mornings and Beyond, Community and Covenant
    • At First Serve - November 12 and May 6: Shared Ministry at First Unitarian, Serving the World
    Creativity and Spirituality

    Sunday afternoons, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 
    Locations to be confirmed at both Toronto First and Neighbourhood congregations.

    October 8: Wonder and Awe
    November 19: Choicemaking and Limits
    January 14: Beautiful Imperfection

    Journey through the Themes
    Journey Groups Throughout the year, our congregation explores a different theme each month through Sunday worship, children’s religious education, adult programs, and the feast of materials found in our publication New Horizons. One of the most meaningful ways to engage with the monthly topics is by being part of a Journey Group.

    These groups provide a structured way to connect with others, while delving deeper into your own spiritual development. The groups involve the shared spiritual practice of deep and respectful listening, which carves out the all­ too ­rare space in our busy lives to slow down and “hear ourselves think.”

    These small gatherings of 5­-10 people come together for two hours once a month to reflect on a variety of questions related to the monthly theme. The overarching question for each month is what does it mean to seek a life of…?

    Learn more
    Life Stages
    The Twerty-Somethings of Toronto First For people in their twenties and thirties; Varies
    Prime Timers For people in their forties and better
    Wise Elders Circle The first Thursday of the month at 1:30 to 3:30 pm
    Social Justice Groups and Events
    Amnesty International Group 142 Meeting: The third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm;
    Letter and petition signing: The fourth Sunday of each month at 11:30 am
    Reconciliation Working Group Varies; Watch for information in First Light (our weekly e-newsletter)
    IDEAs Diversity Working Group The third Tuesday of each month at 7 pm
    Eco/Social Justice Committee The third Monday of each month at 7 pm
    Green Sanctuary Group Monthly on Sundays at 12:15 pm
    Central America Construction Expeditions Three trips in 2018 to build kidergarten schools in Honduras
    Other Small Groups
    Choir at First - Let's Sing! Rehearsals most Thursdays at 7 to 9 pm; Performances three Sundays each month; No experience necessary! New members are welcome in September and January.
    Book Group Wednesdays at 1:30 - 3 pm;

    September 20: “In the Garden of Beasts: love, terror, and an American family in Hitler’s Berlin”, by Erik Larson
    October 18: “The Givenness of Things: essays”, by Marilynne Robinson
    November 15: “Burial Rites”, by Hannah Kent
    January 17: “Do not say we have nothing”, by Madeleine Thien
    February 21: “The Little Red Chairs”, by Edna O’Brien
    March 21: “The Return of History”, by Jennifer M. Welsh
    April 18: “Indian Horse”, by Richard Wagamese
    May 16: “Mothering Sunday”, by Graham Swift
    June 20: “Mad enchantment: Claude Monet and the painting of the water lilies”, by Ross King
    Creating Together Crafters’ Circle Second and fourth Thursdays of the month at a member’s home near Dufferin and Bloor.
    Issues and Ideas: Mini Book Talks Sundays monthly at 12:15 to 1:30 pm;  Learn more
    Bridge Group Tuesday afternoons at 1:15 to 3:30 pm
    Conversational French Fridays at 1 to 3 pm 
    Jewish Awareness Group Meets for holiday celebrations and other events
    Men’s Group Second Saturday of the month at 10 am to noon
    Our Pagan Grove Third Tuesday of the month at 7 to 9:30 pm (meeting starts at 7:30)
    Yoga Mondays at 7-8 pm until the end of June. Suggested contribution: $30 for all ten classes
    Womyn Spirit Meets for holiday celebrations, including Solstices and Equinoxes; WomynSpirit is a “Neo-Pagan Eco-Feminist” circle begun at Unicamp 27 years ago. All womyn are welcome to join in our gatherings - sharing chants for the wheel of the year, video nights, and rituals focused on the rhythms of nature and issues in the lives of the participants. Facilitated by volunteers, ritual circles may include meditation, sacred circle dance, drumming, chanting and sharing of snacks.
    Womynspirit sponsors occasional courses in feminist spirituality. Watch for news of an upcoming course in Spring 2018. We also join in organizing the annual October Samhain weekend Womynspirit Festival.


    Planning to show a film at First?

    As we become more and more competent in promoting our events and programs on Facebook, on our congregational website and via other electronic means, we attract liability to the members who serve on our Board of Directors were there ever to be action on a copyright infringement.

    Out of consideration for our Board, for the good name of First, and for those whose creative works we enjoy, our Program Convenor, Margo Holland has researched the subject and found that the community standard in UU and other faith communities is to become mindful of what is considered "fair use" in all aspects of using creative work in congregations such as music, poetry, stories et cetera. We have purchased a blanket license which allows us to show videos from a variety of popular studios without straying into copyright infringement.

    If the film you are showing in your programs for children, youth or adults is not an NFB film or a film which comes with limited public performance rights, you should check which studio produced the film, and verify whether that studio is on that list of studios.

    If it is not, please inform our Director of Lifespan Religious Education (DLRE) Angela Klassen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 416-924-9654 ext 2230 that the studio is missing from our coverage, and consider either obtaining the appropriate permissions or choosing an alternate film selection.


    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 July & August: Avenue Road Arts School

    Green Canoes

    The Avenue Road Arts School has been offering high-quality arts programming in a relaxed and supportive environment for over 20 years. Coming from a wide variety of professions, many of our adult students turn to visual art as a pastime. In some, an inner passion is ignited, and their visual art becomes a creative vehicle of self-expression. A number of the students in this exhibit have begun to show their work in public venues.

    The exhibit runs to September 4.


    Library Exhibit: Julie Tang

    Julie Tang

    I focus on relief carving, using perspective, highlights, shadows and texture to create an illusion of depth, turning a piece of wood into a life-like picture. I create my own style based on pictures or paintings of the subject I choose to carve, and sculpting techniques that I must have unconsciously acquired in my early years.

    The subject matters I carve are inspired by my love of nature and all living creatures, big and small. I try to make the animals in the carvings realistic, capturing details, emotion, action and moment in time. When I put the final touch to the eyes of the animal and feel it jump into life, I know that I have found my new calling.


    This Year’s Shows

    The following shows will be 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     AvenueRoadArtsSchool.com
    September Susanne Clark   September 9 susanneclark.com
    October Susan L. Brown   October 7 artistsgarden.blogspot.ca
    November Martin Myers   November 4 martinmyers.ca
    December Métis artist Louise Lefebvre   December 9 mountaindrummer.wixsite.com/spiritcougarlefebvre


    Previous Years' Shows

    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


    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
    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




    Coming soon ...