Below are some current ongoing initiatives that Westminster has partnered with and/or supported to:
transform injust systems;
enhance equitable access to resources and opportunities for all;
enable individuals and groups to feel safe, respected, engaged, motivated, and valued for who they are and for their societal contributions; and/or
sustain a higher quality of life for everyone.
Beechwood Affordable Housing Project
Southside Development Group from London has proposed to build a six-storey apartment block backing up against Erb St. (but slightly below it), and a total of 12 three-storey townhouses (broken into two sections of six each) fronting on 555 Beechwood Drive. Although much of the development, including all of the townhouses on Beechwood, will be rented at market rates, the development on this site will exceed the Region of Waterloo’s normal requirements for affordable apartments by providing 40% of units meeting the Region’s affordability criteria. Westminster representatives are supporting the process by listening to community concerns and providing feedback.
Vernon Grieves Memorial Church
At one time, there were five churches in the remote First Nation community of Oxford House in northern Manitoba, 950 kms north of Winnipeg. The Bunibonibee Cree community continues to feel the impact of COVID as well as high rates of poverty and unemployment. But the spirit of the people is resilient, and Vernon Grieves United Church is central to the well-being of the community. This church performs all the baptisms, church-related marriages and funerals for the entire community. In addition, Rev. John Thompson and his wife, Rev. Elenor Thompson, help out with car repairs, school meals and a host of other community needs. For several years, our church has provided financial support to this community. September 19, 2021 was a real highlight for them, as Elenor made history being the first indigenous woman to be ordained in Oxford House. It was also the first Ordination to be officiated by the National Indigenous Council of which John Thompson is chair.
Divest Waterloo/Faith & the Common Good received a grant from Waterloo Region to work withGrand River Food Forestryto plant fedges (food hedges) around the Region. As part of our climate action initiatives, Temple Shalom and Westminster congregations successfully applied to plant two fedges. In June 2021, volunteers from Westminster and Temple Shalom planted the initial fedge at The Cedars. The event was kicked off with an indigenous smudging. In August 2021, a second fedge was planted. This project is powerful not only because it naturalizes landscape, creates habitat and attracts native pollinators with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant native species but also because it builds community. By supporting ongoing engagement with the land that sustains us, it has the potential to change the relationships that citizens across the region have with each other and with our ecosystem.
Matthew's Distro Drive
In memory of Matthew MacGregor, our church pledged to support the Luther Food Distro in January 2022. Martin Luther University College, federated with Wilfrid Laurier University, is an academic, spiritual, and social home to almost 500 part-time and full-time graduate and undergraduate students from 31 different faith traditions, as well as no faith tradition. University students have been particularly impacted by the pandemic, both in their ability to attend class, but also with respect to opportunities to seek employment to pay for their educational and living costs. Early in the pandemic Luther learned that students in our community were experiencing food insecurity. Luther, along with Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG), responded by starting a weekly, informal food distribution program. What began with a single table offering non-perishable food has grown to a large distribution center providing fresh and non-perishable food, hygiene and menstrual products, cleaning supplies, and hot, prepared, homemade food to approximately 125 food insecure students each week. The “Distro” strives to provide fresh and nutritious food to students in a friendly, stigma-free environment. Westminster has provided financial support, member food donations, along with food donations from The Cedars vegetable garden.