150 Neighbours

Commemorating Canada's 150th Anniversary in Scarborough

Gretta Vosper

I serve West Hill United Church in Scarborough as its minister and celebrated my 20th anniversary there last February.

“It has been a privilege to work with a congregation composed of individuals intent on creating the right relationship in their personal lives and in the world.”

The congregation’s attitude led me, in 1997, to work with Member of Parliament John McKay on the pressing issue of homelessness—addressing, in particular, the large number of homeless families then housed in the motels along Kingston Road, an elastic addition to the Toronto shelter system. The Scarborough East Community Analysis Group created a video of the shelter situation and helped influence the decision to name a special federal cabinet position with oversight of homelessness in Toronto.

Since then, we have focused on Indigenous rights and treaty issues, worked closely with Habitat for Humanity on community projects, been active in the sanctuary movement, and worked with refugees.

“Our work focuses on empowering individuals who then create positive change in their own lives and communities.”

It is a model of church outreach that attempts to unleash exponential transformational change, rather than relying on traditional outreach models in which those in need come to the church to receive what it is they require. Our members work on community boards, participate in neighbourhood projects, address issues at each level of government, and work to bring about lasting, systemic change. What an honour it is to work with them!

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