An important update from Rev. David Allen, Chair of Windermere Church Council,
and farewell letter from Stone Soup Network Founder, Rev. Alexa Gilmour.
Dear Stone Soup Community,
Big changes are coming to Windermere United Church, and I want to share some information with you on how this affects Stone Soup Network (SSN). As you know, Windermere has operated Stone Soup Network since its inception in 2016 and provided support for both its national and neighbourhood expressions.
Celebrations: First, let’s celebrate that last year was a record year for Stone Soup. Over 400 new donors and dozens of people joined supporters in delivering:
- a $13,000 N95 PPE program for low-income seniors
- a $104,000 Swansea Mews Relief Campaign
- a Warming Centre Campaign that combined forces with other allies to successfully lobby the municipal government to increase its winter relief funding.
All of this on top of our important ongoing matching program that provided over $20,000 in goods and services to equity seeking neighbours in Toronto’s West End. A huge thank you to our contributors, donors, connectors, and volunteers. At the start of 2023, SSN’s work was celebrated by the City of Toronto, who honoured Stone Soup Network with a Toronto Community Champion Award. Congratulations to everyone who made all this possible.
Changes: Some of you know that Windermere has been in active discernment about its future for nearly two years and, after much prayer and planning, on April 23rd the congregation voted to amalgamate with Runnymede United Church just north of Bloor Street on Runnymede Avenue. The next major step in the process is for Runnymede to vote on the amalgamation. That will take place on May 14th. The plan is that we will be fully amalgamated by June 1.
How will this affect SSN? The amalgamation agreement between the two congregations is clear: “The local Stone Soup Network (SSN) is an important element of the outreach of Windermere and will be considered as part of the outreach and engagement of Runnymede upon amalgamation”. Obviously, there is a lot of detailed work that needs to be done while we make this transition without the help of a neighbourhood director. Therefore, we are pausing current operations of the neighbourhood SSN program until we have completed the amalgamation and begin merging operations in June. At that time, we will have a clear plan for restarting local operations. We’ll share information on this as soon as possible in June.
The operations of the national Stone Soup Network are not part of the amalgamation. As some of you know, Windermere had decided to separate the national and neighbourhood activities, hoping that the national operations would find a home elsewhere. Unfortunately, despite best efforts by many, this did not come to fruition. Therefore, as of April 30 the national operations are ended, and the Stone Soup National Director and SSN founder, Rev. Alexa Gilmour, is moving on to a new call. We hope you’ll follow her on social media as she announces her next justice-based project in the coming weeks. The Windermere Council and SSN Advisory Board offer heartfelt thanks for her many years of dedication to the Stone Soup Network.
If you have questions about this time of transition for Stone Soup Network or Windermere United, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com. If I don’t know the answers immediately, I’ll find someone who can provide information.
Yes, many changes – sadness in some cases, and great hope in others. Thank you for all you’ve done to support SSN to date. We look forward to communicating with you again in the near future.
Rev. David Allen
Chair of Windermere Council
Dear Beloved Community,
Seven years ago, a seed of an idea was planted which we nurtured together into the abundant garden we call Stone Soup Network. After many seasons, the time has come for me to put down the gardening gloves. Leaving community is never easy but, with the exciting changes happening at our host church, Windermere United, it is the right decision. It was made in prayerful consultation with the Stone Soup Advisory board, which will also dissolve at this time.
In the coming weeks, you will hear more about the good news from Windermere about its plans for amalgamating with Runnymede United that will lead to a renewed local Stone Soup program for Junction High Park.
As for me, my cup overflows with deep gratitude for each one of you as I think about you receiving this letter. I hold a special prayer of thanksgiving for our founding group, steering committees, connectors, contributors, recipients, donors, advisory board members, and more. Like the loaves and fishes’ miracle, I have received far more than I ever gave from our joint adventure.
I hope you’ll connect with me on social media, reach out to me via my private email, and join me as you feel called in the work of cultivating equitable, just, sustainable communities.
May this time of tender shoots and budding blossoms, give you reason to dream of all the miracles God might be calling forth from you.
Founder and National Director of Stone Soup Network
p.s. Below are some of my favourite Stone Soup memories, but there are many more that were never captured on film.