West Trust Grants

Unitarian congregations seeking to promote Unitarian Universalism’s seven principles can gain some extra funding towards their efforts by applying for a grant from the West Trust.

Founded in 1887, the Trust was established from a bequest made to the UU Church of Halifax by William West, son of one of the founders of Halifax’s Universalist society (the precursor to today’s church). In keeping with West’s vision, modern Unitarian Universalism inherits, honours, and embodies the principles, and the West Trust continues to support them in a variety of ways. Grants have funded website work, enabled creative advertising, supplemented the salaries of religious professionals, and more.

Congregations are encouraged to submit applications that promote the principles — one application per congregation, with the support of the congregation’s board by:

  • publishing books, pamphlets, periodicals or other modern forms of media (such as tapes, websites, etc.) as well as programs to attract new UU members;
  • provide partial support towards employing a minister (either clergy or layperson); or a religious education director for children and young adults;
  •  assisting financially weak or small UU congregations or founding new ones; and 
  • by such other methods of UU church extension as the West Trustees shall deem best.

The deadline to send in the 2021 West Trust application form is October 31, with West Trust Trustees usually meeting after the deadline to make their decisions. Due to Covid restrictions, no applications were sought in 2020.  As a result, about $15,000 (twice as much money as in normal years) will be available in 2021.  In 2018 grants were made to 9 UU fellowships or churches, ranging in amounts from $400 to $1,000. In 2019 there were six grants made, ranging from $500 to $2155.

Even a relatively small amount of money, however, can make a big difference. Marion Habermehl, a member of the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough, says the congregation was very grateful to receive a grant from the bequest last year, which is used to kickstart an enhanced music ministry by providing compensation to the choir director.

“We are grateful that the West grant provided us the opportunity to bring our music ministry more fully into our service (and budget)”, she says. “Our members and friends benefit greatly from our music, and we have often received positive feedback after a service”.