A Brief History
Don Heights Unitarian Congregation was founded in 1954. Our second minister was Jay Chidsey who remained with the congregation for eight years and Norman Abbott was our first Chairperson of the Board of Directors.
During our first four years, Sunday services were held in various locations such as school auditoriums and factory cafeterias. We built our first church in 1960 at Kennedy and Highway 401 in Scarborough through several fund-raising events and debentures undertaken by members of the congregation.
In the sixties, Don Heights membership numbers were at their highest. Creativity flourished and there was much involvement in social action. Part of our space provided a nursery for mentally challenged children and continued until professional qualifications were changed beyond our power to meet them.
At this time, we also initiated Stratford Festival Unitarian weekends and offered packages to Unitarians across Canada and the U.S. This provided an opportunity for Unitarians to meet and greet each other. Our Arts Committee sponsored events with well-known speakers which attracted many visitors to our church and brought us considerable press coverage.
Our 1964 minister assisted us in lay leadership until the time when we would call another minister. During the next few years we had number of ministers both full-time and part-time. From 1973-2000 Don Heights was a lay-led congregation.
In 1985 we embarked on a plan to redevelop our property. We sold our air rights to the Co-operative Housing Federation thus enabling them to demolish our building and erect a 10-storey co-operative apartment building with space for Don Heights. The building was completed in 1991. Our circular space provided a wonderful new home for the congregation.
However, the building on Antrim Crescent developed more and more structural deficiencies and the congregation decided to sell and move in 2000. Space was rented at the Civic Garden Centre at Edwards Gardens. We moved from the Garden Centre after they began an expansion and redevelopment.
We moved to 18 Wynford in 2004 where we regained the ability to hold services and programs anytime we desired. Rev. Debra Faulk was called to our congregation in 2006 and remained with Don Heights until 2010 when she moved to the Calgary Congregation. At that point our lay-led congregation decided to have guest ministers and topical speakers on a 50/50 basis.
In 2016, Don Heights purchased its space at 18 Wynford Drive when the building changed ownership. We continue to be a lay-led congregation with active Sunday Services, Social Action and Caring Committees.