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 lay person); 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 West Trust Application Form is September 30, with West Trust Trustees usually meeting the third week of October to make their decisions. Due to low interest rates, the total amount of money available has been around $7,500 in recent years.  Grants have ranged from $100 to $3500, averaging about $1,000.

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 it 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”.