Working together to build a stronger, kinder and more just community

Our History


Stonegate Ministry History

Stonegate Ministry was founded in the autumn of 1991 by a group of clergy and committed Christians from the Sunnylea and Humber Bay area. They came together to develop a shared vision and to play an active role in reaching out to the Stonegate community and to help meet the physical, social and spiritual needs evidenced in the community.

This partnership of AnglicanUnitedPresbyterian and Baptist churches has continued since the inception of the Ministry. In 2004 a Foursquare Gospel church joined the group and more recently Kingsway-Lambton United became a partner in Stonegate Ministry. Furthermore, volunteers from local Roman Catholic churches are actively involved in many of the Ministry's programs and initiatives.

The core clientele for Stonegate Ministry's work are two communities-in-need, located in Etobicoke South in the Greater Toronto area:

  • the approximately 8,000 families who live in some 79 low-rise apartment buildings in the Stonegate neighbourhood and
  • the 2,500 lower-income families living in rental accomodations along Lake Shore Blvd West

The work of Stonegate Ministry is faithfully supported by individuals, partner and national churches united in the vision of expanding God's Kingdom by working together to build a stronger, kinder and more just community in Stonegate. 

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Stonegate Action Group

In the summer of 2001, Stonegate Community Ministry, now called Stonegate Ministry, facilitated a residents group with a mandate of bringing Stonegate residents and community stakeholders together in order to identify community issues and concerns and in-turn develop appropriate and meaningful community-based responses. This action group met once each month.

The responsibility of running the action group has now been transferred to the community. 

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Partnership with Community Service Providers

Over the years Stonegate Ministry has worked in partnership with the Stonegate Community Health Centre on a number of projects. Some of the projects include food security endeavours such as the  Food Security Investment Program and the Toronto Farmers' Market Network. 

Food Security Investment Program

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It started in 2005 by the City; a funded food animators project. The outcomes were the start-up of a local farmers' market; expansion of community gardens; snack program for two local schools; and gardening & cooking workshops. 


Toronto Farmers' Market Network

The Ministry also partnered in the then newly formed Toronto Farmers Market Network. The Network's objectives were to provide support to the existing markets and assist with the start-up of new market places in the Toronto area. 

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Stonegate Ministry has also initiated and organized events for the community to enjoy. One such event which took place annually was the Stonegate Festival of Praise

Stonegate Festival of Praise

An annual festival of gospel music, the Stonegate Festival of Praise takes place in the parking lot of the Stonegate Plaza in the summer. It attracts hundreds of local participants. Musicians and groups from a variety of Christian church communities provide inspiring and uplifting Gospel music in traditional and contemporary genres. At the festival, gospel songs are sung in the cultural languages spoken at Stonegate. The musicians also share personal stories of how their lives have been affected by Christ's transforming presence.

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Back in 1991 community needs assessments led to identifying areas by which community churches could enter the life of the community and become partners with the community in addressing the community's needs.

 

As a result, the Stonegate Community Ecumenical Ministry was formed as a coalition of Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian and United Churches and in 1992 a full time minister was put in place operating out of a small community office as a meeting place and a location for offering lightly used clothing. Funding has been provided by these local churches, their respective national bodies and a variety of fundraising events. It is now a registered charity that relies on the efforts of a large number of volunteers.

 

Our mission was and is:

 Working in partnership with the community through shared resources, we offer programs and opportunities to build healthy relationship, strong families, a sense of belonging and a deeper relationship with God. We endeavor to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families toward a better life. We are a faithful voice to ensure everyone in the community is treated with justice and Christian compassion.

From the beginning, we partnered with the Stonegate Community Health Center and the Stonegate Community Association.

In 2004 we moved into the Stonegate Plaza proper with greatly expanded store and program space where we prospered and were able to make a difference in the lives of many in the community.

In February 2014 the plaza was lost to redevelopment. Our programs have since been limited to space available at Christ Church St. James and the Health Centre. We also lost $100,000 in store receipts which accounted for over 50% of our budget. The Plaza was the heart of the community and the redevelopment offers no new benefits to this unfortunate community but rather threatens to remove many of the services that have countered the family poverty so prevalent here.

There has been a concerted effort in 2013 through 2015 by the Ministry to gain space in the redevelopment to enable our outreach to continue and to protect community food and shopping access for residents, but at the time of writing, it does not appear likely that we will be offered a lease.

In December 2014, we opened a branch store on the Lake Shore serving a community  which has tsimilar demographics the Stonegate community. This was an expansion and we have been careful to position this as such and not to suggest that we have abandoned our Stonegate commitment.


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