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Encyclopedia > United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada (French: l'Église Unie du Canada) is Canada's second largest church (after the Roman Catholic Church), and its largest Protestant denomination. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (687x1095, 163 KB) Summary Logo of the United Church of Canada Licensing This is a logo of a corporation, sports team, or other organization, and is protected by copyright and/or trademark. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (687x1095, 163 KB) Summary Logo of the United Church of Canada Licensing This is a logo of a corporation, sports team, or other organization, and is protected by copyright and/or trademark. ... The Roman Catholic Church in Canada is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. ... Protestantism is one of three primary branches of Christianity. ... A religious denomination, (also simply denomination) is a large, long-established subgroup within a religion that has existed for many years. ...


The United Church is a 1925 merger of the then largest and second-largest Protestant denominations in Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Methodist Church of Canada together with the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec, a numerically less significant but historically extremely important stream in in Evangelical Protestantism. As Evangelical Protestanism has in political and theological terms drifted steadily towards the right, particularly in the United States, the United Church has maintained a steadfastly liberal position, especially as regards its historically essential stances as to the social gospel, women's and minority rights and relations with the wider Christian Church. The Presbyterian Church in Canada is the name of a Christian church, of Protestant, of presbyterian, and reformed theology and polity, serving in Canada under this name since 1875. ... The Methodist Church of Canada was a united church formed in 1880 and comprising most former Methodist denominations in Canada. ... Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation indepedently and autonomously runs its own affairs. ... The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant movement that was most prominent in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century. ...


About 250,000 people attend United Church services each Sunday, although some 2.8 million Canadians, or about 9% of the population, reported the United Church as their religious affiliation in the country's 2001 census. This is a significant fall-off from previous censuses, in which the proportion of Canadians identifying as United Church has been as high as 25%; Canada is, to be sure, an extremely secular country, generally little interested in religious expression, but this precipitate fall-off is also to be explained by

(1) Canada's very high immigration from countries not having a substantial liberal Evangelical Protestant population and
(2) discomfort on the part of conservative churchgoers with the denomination's increasingly liberal stances on such issues as homosexuality and biblical interpretation.

The United Church describes itself as having a presence in "all parts of Canada except rural Quebec." This may be unduly modest, as in rural Quebec the United Church does exist albeit referred to as "l’église mitaine" — i.e., the mitten church, so tiny that only a handful of people can fit inside (though another explanation for the expression "mitaine" could be a corruption of "meeting" place by French-Canadian farmers).


The current Moderator of the United Church, elected for a three-year term, is the Rt. Rev. Peter Short. The Moderator of the United Church of Canada is the head of the United Church of Canada, Canadas largest Protestant denomination. ... The Rt. ...

Contents


History

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St. Paul's-Eastern United Church in Ottawa

Image File history File linksMetadata St_Paul's-Eastern_United_church_Ottawa. ... Image File history File linksMetadata St_Paul's-Eastern_United_church_Ottawa. ...

Inauguration

The United Church of Canada was inaugurated at a large worship service at Toronto's Mutual Street Arena on June 10, 1925, and recognized and legitimated by Act of Parliament as well as provincial laws dealing with church property. It was the merger—negotiated and planned over more than twenty years—of three prominent Protestant denominations, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and the Congregationalists. Also participating were a number of "local union churches" that had already been established using the Basis of Union in small towns in the rapidly developing Canadian west. The Mutual Street Arena inaugural conference of the United Church coincided with the last General Assembly of the pre-Union Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the Presbyerian Moderator, George Pidgeon, became the first Moderator of the United Church. Mutual Street Arena was the home ice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada of several hockey clubs. ... The Parliament of Canada (French: Parlement du Canada) is Canadas legislative branch, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. ... Presbyterianism is part of the Reformed churches family of denominations of Christian Protestantism based on the teachings of John Calvin which traces its institutional roots to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. ... The Methodist movement is a group of denominations of Protestant Christianity. ... Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation indepedently and autonomously runs its own affairs. ...


The Non-concurring Presbyterians

A substantial minority of Presbyterians remained unconvinced of the virtues of church union and ultimately their threat to the entire project was resolved by giving individual Presbyterian congregations the right to vote on whether to enter or remain outside the United Church. At the time of the ultimate merger on June 10, 1925 approximately 30% of the Presbyterian congregations in Canada — mostly in southern Ontario — chose to withdraw from the institutional Presbyterian Church and reconstitute themselves as a "continuing" Presbyterian Church in Canada, although the majority of Presbyterians who entered the union nevertheless still constituted the largest constituent of the United Church. The Presbyterian Church in Canada is the name of a Christian church, of Protestant, of presbyterian, and reformed theology and polity, serving in Canada under this name since 1875. ...


A major legal issue in the 1930s was whether these non-concurring Presbyterians were entitled to designate themselves as the "Presbyterian Church in Canada," given that legally the body bearing that name had not ceased to exist, but continued as part of the United Church of Canada. Ultimately in 1938 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the non-concurring Presbyterians could so-style themselves, the name having been in effect vacated by the United Church. Of more practical significance was the large volume of litigation through the 1920s and '30s regarding the ownership of disputed church property, including Knox College in the University of Toronto, whose faculty and students as well as the United Church itself had assumed it would become the principal clergy training facility of the United Church. These "United Church cases" constitute a minor but significant chapter in the evolving law of trusts. Knox College, 59 St. ... The University of Toronto (U of T), in Toronto, Ontario, is the largest university in Canada by student population. ...


In the early days of the United Church, relations between "non-concurring" and "continuing" Presbyterians (it was a matter of some controversy which Presbyterians were entitled to the term "continuing") were somewhat abrasive, particularly in small towns where congregations painfully divided. The uniting Presbyterians in the United Church were assertive, be it said, in their view that they were the continuing Presbyterian Church, and many historic United Church buildings to this day proudly bear cornerstones showing their original identity as "Westminster" or "Knox" or "St Andrew's" (etc.) Presbyterian Church. In due course relations perforce settled down and in today's Canada it is a matter of indifference which sort of Presbyterian one is. Many Canadian United Churchpeople, be it said, are unaware of their own contentious history, and most Presbyterians have no issue with, say, "St Andrew's Presbyterian Church" being now a congregation of the United Church.


Similar church unions outside Canada

Such a merger was unprecedented in world history; Canada was the first country where the Protestant churches elected to pool their resources and become one large nondogmatic church, and creation of the United Church was a model for similar unions that followed in South India, North India, Australia, and elsewhere. The United Church has continued a policy of openness to church union. The Church of South India is an autonomous Protestant church of South India. ...


Further church union discussions in Canada

In 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren Church of Canada (EUB or "Unionists"), having been orphaned when the parent body in the United States joined what became the United Methodist Church, joined the United Church of Canada. Union talks between the United Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in the 1970s stalled at the eleventh hour when the Anglican houses of laity and clergy voted in favour of union but the house of bishops voted against. There have also been conversations about union with the Disciples of Christ, who were involved in the 1960s and '70s discussions with the Anglicans. The United Church is active in the Canadian Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... The Evangelical United Brethren was an American Protestant church which was formed in 1946 by the merger of the Evangelical Association with the United Brethren in Christ. ... The United Methodist Church is the largest Methodist, the largest mainline, and, after the Southern Baptist Convention, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States. ... Anglican Church of Canada The Anglican Church of Canada (the ACC) is the Canadian branch of the Anglican Communion. ... The term Anglican describes those people and churches following the religious traditions of the Church of England, especially following the Reformation. ... The insignia of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). ... The Canadian Council of Churches/le conseil canadien des églises is an ecumenical Christian forum of churches in Canada. ... The World Council of Churches (WCC) is the principal international Christian ecumenical organization. ... The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of more than 200 churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation. ...


Relations with the Anglican Communion

During the 1960s the ecumenical movement was particularly strong and — particularly during the primacy of Arthur Michael Ramsay in Canterbury and Ted Scott in Canada — the Anglican Communion was particularly receptive to increased intimacy with the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. The United Church made overtures to the Anglican Church of Canada with respect to creating a broader Canadian church union along the lines of the Churches of North India, South India and Pakistan, to which the Anglican Church of Canada responded with alacrity. In the course of church union discussions a compendious draft basis of union was prepared which involved the United Church agreeing to accept episcopacy and arrangements being contemplated for the recognition of United Church ordinations. A common hymn book was published, whose reception in both Anglican and United Church congregations in Canada was equivocal, suggesting that the grassroots were not quite ready for so radical a union, though the soon-to-be-united Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist, together with the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches of Australia enthusiastically adopted a second, Australian edition of the hymn book. Archbishop Ramsey (left) meets Pope Paul VI. Arthur Michael Ramsey, Baron Ramsey of Canterbury (1904- 23 April 1988) was Archbishop of Canterbury from June 1961 to 1974. ... This article is about Archbishop Edward Scott. ... Anglican Church of Canada The Anglican Church of Canada (the ACC) is the Canadian branch of the Anglican Communion. ...


At the congregational level there was considerable indifference to the proposed merger of communions; but the United Church Observer espoused it wholeheartedly. The Anglican Church adopted the joint Hymn Book and began ordaining women clergy, as the United Church had done since 1936. Invitations by Anglican cathedrals to United Church clergy to preach were responded to with enthusiasm by Anglican congregations, who had the benefit of the preaching of such United Church divines as the Right Reverend Bruce McLeod. The Very Reverend Bruce McLeod is a former Moderator of the United Church of Canada (1974-77), President of the Canadian Council of Churches and minister of, inter alia, Bloor Street United Church in Toronto. ...


However, the Anglican House of Bishops vetoed the church union, despite the approval of the Anglican Houses of Laity and Clergy. It seemed to the bishops that the smaller Anglican Church of Canada would be swallowed up in the much larger United Church and that episcopalian sensibilities, despite the good will of United Churchpeople —and indeed despite the United Church's express willingness to accept episcopacy — would be lost in a wider union. Since then, institutional relations with Anglicanism have been cool; the joint Hymn Book of 1972 has been resoundingly denounced by both denominations, for musical as well as ecclesiastical reasons. Both denominations have produced separate successor hymnals, and common endeavour has been somewhat soured at the national level. A bishop is an ordained member of the Christian clergy who, in certain Christian churches, holds a position of authority. ...


About the United Church

General

The United Church is a broad church with a range of congregations from moderately conservative to very liberal. But in general, and especially at the national level, it is one of the most socially liberal of the world's large Protestant denominations. It began ordaining female ministers in 1936 and has long shied away from a rigid interpretation of the Bible. United Church of Canada members moving to the United States often find themselves at home in the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the United Methodist Church, to the United Kingdom in the United Reformed Church and to Australia in the Uniting Church in Australia, though none of these denominations entirely corresponds in ethos to the uniquely Canadian United Church. Conservatism or political conservatism is any of several historically related political philosophies or political ideologies. ... Look up liberal on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Liberal may refer to: Politics: Liberalism American liberalism, a political trend in the USA Political progressivism, a political ideology that is for change, often associated with liberal movements Liberty, the condition of being free from control or restrictions Liberal Party, members of... Interpretation, or interpreting, is an activity that consists of establishing, either simultaneously or consecutively, oral or gestural communications between two or more speakers who are not speaking (or signing) the same language. ... The Gutenberg Bible owned by the United States Library of Congress The Bible (Hebrew: תנ״ך tanakh, Greek: η Βίβλος hē biblos) (sometimes The Holy Bible, The Book, Work of God, The Word, The Good Book or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βίβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the name used by Jews and Christians for their... Emblem of the UCC The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States, generally considered within the Reformed tradition, and formed in 1957 by the merger of two denominations, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. ... Emblem of the PC(USA) The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or PC(USA) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. ... The United Methodist Church is the largest Methodist, the largest mainline, and, after the Southern Baptist Convention, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States. ... Logo of The United Reformed Church The United Reformed Church (URC) is a Christian denomination (church) in the United Kingdom. ... Logo of the UCA The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) was formed on June 22, 1977 when the Methodist Church of Australasia, Presbyterian Church of Australia and Congregational Union of Australia came together under the Basis of Union document. ...


In 1997 the limits of the Church's liberal stance were tested when the Church's Moderator, the Right Rev. Bill Phipps commented that he was not sure the resurrection of Jesus was a scientific fact and that Jesus' nature was fully human. This sparked great debate in the church, and heated condemnation from some former moderators for what they considered a departure from basic Christian doctrine, not to speak of the theological statements in the church's Basis of Union, with some congregations passing motions asserting their faith in Jesus' literal resurrection.[1] 1997 (MCMXCVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Very Rev. ... This article concerns itself with Jewish, Christian , Islamic and other religious interpretations of the concept of the resurrection of the dead. ... Jesus (8-2 BC/BCE — 29-36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ...


The polity of the United Church is largely Presbyterian, with a hierarchy of governing bodies (Presbyteries, Conferences, and the General Council) each having equal membership from ministers and lay people. Its social policies owe the most to the Methodist strain in its heritage. The freedom available to individual congregations owes much to the Congregationalist part of its roots. Presbyterianism is a form of Protestant Christianity, primarily in the Reformed branch of Christendom, as well as a particular form of church government. ... Presbyterian governance of a church is typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. ... The Methodist movement is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity. ... Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation indepedently and autonomously runs its own affairs. ...


The United Church issued a Hymnary in 1930, The Hymn Book (jointly with the Anglican Church of Canada) in 1972, and a new hymn book under the title Voices United in 1996. It is in the process of compiling a supplement to the latter, expected to be titled More Voices. [1] Anglican Church of Canada The Anglican Church of Canada (the ACC) is the Canadian branch of the Anglican Communion. ... Voices United, the Hymn and Worship book of the United Church of Canada, is one of the most comprehensive Christian music resources available, Voices United was produced in conjunction with the Hymn and Worship Resource Committee, and edited by John Ambrose. ...


Liturgy

For its first 40-odd years United Church congregations largely followed the historic Presbyterian Book of Common Order in the layout of their Sunday worship services, as with Evangelical Protestant communions throughout the world, and United Churchpeople could reliably expect to find a familiar liturgy in Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist and Baptist churches anywhere in the anglophone world. Beginning in the late 1960s, as Roman Catholics and Anglicans began experimenting with new liturgies, the United Church similarly began broadening its churchmanship. Nowadays one may find United Church congregations which worship in a wide range of styles, from free-form Evangelical Protestant prayer meetings with pentecostal gospel music to essentially Anglican Book of Common Prayer sobriety, with a highly literate set liturgy and communion at what amounts to an altar rail. Always, however, there is an acute awareness and inclusion of the hymnody of the Wesleys and the heritage of the Presbyterian metrical Psalter. The term Anglican describes those people and churches following the religious traditions of the Church of England, especially following the Reformation. ... 1979 ECUSABCP The Book of Common Prayer[1] is foundational prayer book of the Church of England and also the name for similar books used in other churches in the Anglican Communion. ...


Official doctrine

The Basis of Union sets out the doctrines concurred in by the uniting denominations; it

  • "affirms" "belief in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the primary source and ultimate standard of Christian faith and life";
  • "acknowledges" "the teaching of the great creeds of the ancient Church" — that is, the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed; and
  • "maintains" "allegiance to the evangelical doctrines of the Reformation, as set forth in common in the doctrinal standards adopted by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, by the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec, and by the Methodist Church."

Weekly recitation of the Apostles Creed was a routine feature of Sunday worship until 1968 when the Church promulgated an additional specifically United Church Creed, entitled A New Creed. It should be noted, however, that the United Church strongly emphasises its participation in the universal small-C catholic church, and that the ancient creeds are not displaced but only supplemented. The Apostles Creed (Latin: Symbolum Apostolorum), sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, creed, or symbol. ... The Apostles Creed (in Latin, Symbolum (Credo) Apostolicum), is an early statement of Christian belief, possibly from the first or second century, but more likely post-Nicene Creed in the early 4th Century AD. The theological specifics of the creed appear to be a refutation of Gnosticism, an early heresy. ... A New Creed is an affirmation of faith used widely in the worship services of the United Church of Canada. ...


The United Church in national life

While Canada has not officially endorsed any religious persuasion since the 1840s when the establishment of the Anglican Church and the issue of clergy reserves became a major focus of popular discontent with the colonial government in Upper Canada, the numerical significance of the Presbyterians and Methodists and later the United Church in anglophone Canada has until recent times given the Church considerable political influence. According to John English in Shadow of heaven: The life of Lester Pearson there was a time when Canadian Prime Ministers consulted with United Church moderators as British Prime Ministers did with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Communion is a world-wide organisation of Anglican Churches. ... Map of Upper Canada (orange) Upper Canada was a British territory in what is now the Canadian province of Ontario. ...


The United Church strongly from its inception followed its antecedent Presbyterian and Methodist constituents in promoting the social gospel and United Church clergy have historically taken strong stands in provincial and national political discourse. Many political leaders have been United Church clergy, including Donald MacDonald (federal Liberal cabinet minister in the 1960s), Stanley Knowles (elder statesman of the CCF-NDP), Don Faris (Saskatchewan NDP cabinet minister) and Lorne Calvert (current Saskatchewan NDP Premier). Numerous non-clerical political leaders and persons of influence have demonstrated the influence on them of United Church priorities; Lester B. Pearson was a son of the United Church manse and Madam Justice Bertha Wilson of the Supreme Court of Canada was a wife of the manse. (Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada 1921-26, 1926-30 and 1935-48 an early proponent of universal health care, was a pre-Church Union Presbyterian when he established his views on the subject.) The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant movement that was most prominent in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century. ... Lester Bowles Mike Pearson, PC, CC, OM, OBE, MA, LL.D. (April 23, 1897 – December 27, 1972) was a Canadian statesman, diplomat and politician who was made a Nobel Laureate in 1957. ... Bertha Wilson (born September 18, 1923) is a retired Canadian jurist and was a Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. ... The Supreme Court Building in Ottawa The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeal for all litigants in the Canadian justice system. ... Not to be confused with William Lyon Mackenzie, Mackenzie Kings grandfather. ...


The church newspaper the United Church Observer, particularly under its 1960s editor A.C. Forrest, took an early stand in promoting the interests of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, vis-à-vis the state of Israel, at time when wider Evangelical Protestant opinion was generally uncritical of Israeli government policy. The Palestinian flag, adopted in 1948, is a widely recognized modern symbol of the Palestinian people. ...


Until recent times when public sensibilities became more attuned to the undesirability of imposing the views of majorities on minorities it was not uncommon for the United Church Hymnary to be distributed to public school children for use in daily and weekly assemblies, and Presbyterian and Methodist hymnody was a common fund of reference and allusion in public discourse.


Several United Church Moderators, notably the Very Rev'ds Bruce McLeod and Art Moore, have articulately expounded on the heritage of Evangelical Protestantism of literacy, both literal (so to speak) and figurative (in terms of broad awareness of the world of letters beyond narrow Evangelical Protestantism, as demonstrated in antecedent denominations' founding of such institutions as Harvard College and Yale College, and its literary heritage of Milton and Blake), and the urgent need for the United Church to proseltyse for "literacy" among less worldly evangelical Protestant denominations and to reach out to its historic sister churches. Bruce McLeod in particular preached in Anglican Cathedrals across Canada during the debate on further Church Union with the Anglicans and his charismatic personality and highly literate preaching did much to persuade Anglican laity and clergy that union with the United Church was desirable.


Causes

The United Church has generally been forthright in the defence of liberal social causes — often well in front of more conservative Evangelical Protestants, and often followed at greater or lesser remove by more cautious but politically akin denominations such as the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Many of its historic causes which may initially have been controversial have in the long term become matters of common Canadian accord: Anglican Church of Canada The Anglican Church of Canada (the ACC) is the Canadian branch of the Anglican Communion. ... The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) (Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne au Canada) is Canadas largest Lutheran denomination, with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. ...

  • The espousal of universal medical care was very early the bailiwick of outspoken United Churchpeople;
  • the ordination of women (1936 in the United Church; 1974 in the Anglican Church of Canada);
  • the championing of the interests of the Palestinians (in the 1960s the United Church Observer's editor A.C. Forrest comprehensively startled United Churchpeople with his reports on the plight of the Palestinians and the question of re-assessing Evangelical Protestant uncritical support of Israel);
  • the defence of gay and lesbian rights, including equal marriage.

One notable lack in the United Church (and its antecedent denominations)’s mission has been ministry to aboriginal people. Apart from a notable mission among the aboriginal peoples of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the United Church has not especially ministered to aboriginal people. In the short run this has been a financial boon to the church in that claims against the Anglican Church and against Roman Catholic orders by persons who were abused by sexually disordered mission personnel have not correspondingly involved the United Church in humiliating and financially crippling litigation. In the long run, the credibility of the United Church in speaking on behalf of the interests of aboriginal Canadians may be limited in that there are very few aboriginal United Church clergy and laity.


The United Church in popular culture

Prominent United Church members in national life

  • Nellie McClung was a Canadian feminist, politician, and social activist. She was a part of the social and moral reform movements prevalent in Western Canada in the early 1900s. Her great causes were women's suffrage and temperance, both early Methodist priorities. She championed dental and medical care for school children, married women’s property rights, mothers' allowances, factory safety legislation and other reforms. She served as a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and was one of The Valiant Five who, in 1927, put forward a petition to clarify the word "Person" in Section 24 of the British North America Act (the Persons Case). On October 18, 1929, the Privy Council found that "Person" includes female persons, thereby making women eligible for appointment to the Canadian Senate.
  • Ralph Connor, Charles William Gordon, aka Ralph Connor (1860-1937) was a Presbyterian and then United Church cleric and author. Born in Glengarry County, Upper Canada, the son of a Presbyterian minister, he graduated from the University of Toronto and also studied at Knox College and the University of Edinburgh. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in 1890. He was an active social gospeller and advocate of temperance, and he became senior Protestant chaplain to the Canadian forces during WWI. As Ralph Connor, he was a prolific and popular novelist. He wrote about muscular Christianity. Much of his work concentrated on the Western Canadian frontier, with good confronting evil in the plots. His best-known books — The Man from Glengarry, Glengarry School Days, and The Foreigner — are concerned with young men and their development. In the years before WWI, Ralph Connor was one of the world's best-selling writers, and his work never ceased to find an audience during his lifetime. Scholars today find him uninteresting as a literary craftsman but he remains interesting as a time capsule of middle-class Anglophone Canada.
  • Margaret Atwood would not describe herself as a churchperson and indeed possibly not as a Christian, but in her early life she was a Sunday School teacher at Leaside United Church in Toronto and her early grounding in the Scriptures from a United Church perspective has amply informed her fiction, particularly in The Handmaid's Tale
  • Margaret Laurence was one of Canada’s greatest novelists (This Side Jordon, The Stone Angel, A Jest of God (filmed by Paul Newman as "Rachel Rachel"), The Fire-Dwellers, A Bird in the House, The Diviners) and a figure of prominence in the late-20th century emergence of anglo-Canadian literature on the world stage. She was a close friend of United Church Moderator Lois Wilson; her novels bear the firm imprint of her avowedly Scottish Presbyterian sensibility.
  • Northrop Frye (see below) was an eminence grise of anglo-Canadian culture during the '50s through the '70s; a United Church minister and Milton and Blake scholar, he extensively served on the Canada Council and other cultural bodies, bringing to bear a sternly literate Christian voice. Strongly wooed by Princeton and other American universities, he resisted invitations to join their faculties, aware that he had become a Canadian institution.
  • Alice Munro's fiction, increasingly in literary criticism slotted into the category of Ontario Gothic is entirely set in Southern Ontario and her characters are of the agrarian and urban middle class; they frequently identify as "United Church."
  • Don Harron, a polymath journalist, author, comedian, actor, director, and composer. Harron has been a fixture of Canadian entertainment and letters since his 1956 direction of the television film "Anne of Green Gables" (which led to his libretto to “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical”). He was host of CBC’s "Morningside" 1977-82 and has — perhaps somewhat regrettably — been featured in his "Charlie Farquarson" persona, a parody of a Canadian rustic (scorned as "vulgar" by Peter Gzowski), on US television’s "Hee Haw." He has been an exemplar and spokesperson of United Church sensibilities in national life. He hosted the United Church’s 50th anniversary celebrations at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.
  • Lester B. Pearson, a son of the United Church manse, was Minister of External Affairs in the St Laurent government and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in defusing the Suez Crisis through the United Nations. He was Prime Minister 1963-68 and during his tenure as prime minister introduced universal health care, student loans, bilingualism, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada's flag. He is regarded as one of the most influential Canadians of the twentieth century.
  • Stanley Knowles, a United Church minister, was a Manitoba CCF-NDP parliamentarian from 1942-1984 with a hiatus from 1958-62. After the CCF’s decimation by the Diefenbaker Tories in the 1958 federal election he together with David Lewis was responsible for regrouping the social democratic left as the New Democratic Party. He was throughout his parliamentary career an articulate and credible spokesman for the social gospel — he is credited with persuading governments to increase Old Age Security benefits and for the introduction of the Canada Pension Plan, as well as other features of the welfare state — but was also the recognised expert on parliamentary procedure. During Liberal minority governments of the 1960s he was pivotal in the exercise of the NDP’s hold of the balance of power to persuade Liberal governments to introduce progressive, social gospel legislation. When he retired from politics in 1984 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau gave him the unprecedented position of honorary table officer of the House of Commons, permitting him to spend his retirement viewing parliamentary debates from the floor of the Commons.
  • Vincent Massey, first Minister of Canada to the UK and first native-born Governor General. The Massey family contribued vast sums to the cultural life of Toronto and Canada, including the Massey Foundation, the Massey Lectures, Massey Hall in Toronto, Hart House at the University of Toronto, Massey College and not least, to Metropolitan Methodist, now United, Church in downtown Toronto.
  • Egerton Ryerson was a minister, educator, politician, and public education advocate in early Ontario, Canada. Ryerson helped found the Upper Canada Academy, of which he was the first principal, in Cobourg; it later became Victoria College, now a part of the University of Toronto. He fought for many secularization reforms, to keep power and influence away from any one church. Such secularization also led to the widening of the school system into public hands. He became Chief Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada in 1844. It is in this role that Ryerson made his historical mark. His study of educational systems elsewhere in the Western world led to three School Acts, which would revolutionize education in Canada. His major innovations included libraries in every school, an educational journal and professional development conventions for teachers, a central textbook press using Canadian authors, securing land grants for universities and universal mandatory free education for all school-age children. The Ryerson Press, long the foremost publisher of Canadian works and owned by the United Church, was of course named for him as is Ryerson University in Toronto and numerous Ryerson United Churches across the country.
  • Robert Baird McClure was a Presbyterian and then United Church medical missionary in China and India and the first non-clerical Moderator of the United Church (1968 - 1971). He assumed an extremely high profile in national life during his tenure as Moderator, attracting favourable (if at times controversial) notice for the United Church, the Social Gospel, Christian Missions and liberal Evangelical Protestantism through his earthy outspokenness. Numerous new United Churches across the country were named for him.

Gordon Lightfoot - The internationally renowned singer and songwriter of such hits as "If You Could My Mind" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a member of the United Church of Canada. A 2003 article in the Globe and Mail profiling Lightfoot and his recovery from a major illness, noted that Lightfoot had for many years sung at Christmas services at a Toronto United Church. Nellie McClung from The National Archives of Canada Nellie McClung, (October 20, 1873 - September 1, 1951) was a Canadian feminist, politician, and social activist. ... Ralph Connor or Rev. ... Margaret Atwood Margaret Eleanor Peggy Atwood, CC (born November 18, 1939) is one of Canada’s most important contemporary writers. ... Cover of The Handmaids Tale The Handmaids Tale is a 1985 dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. ... Margaret Laurence (July 18, 1926–January 5, 1987) was a Canadian novelist. ... Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye, CC, MA, D.Litt. ... Milton is the name of a number of places: In the United States of America: Milton, Delaware Milton, Florida Milton, Illinois Milton, Indiana Milton, Iowa Milton, Kentucky Milton, Maine Milton High School in Alpharetta, GA Milton, Massachusetts Milton, New Hampshire Milton (town), New York (in Saratoga County) Milton, Ulster County... Among the most extensive landowners in Connacht from the 16th to the 19th century. ... The Canada Council for the Arts, commonly called the Canada Council, is an agency of the Government of Canada created to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. ... Alice Munro (born Alice Ann Laidlaw on July 10, 1931) is a Canadian short story writer, widely considered one of the greatest short story writers in modern literature. ... Donald H. Harron, OC , O.ont , BA (born September 19, 1924 in Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian comedian, actor, director, journalist, author and composer. ... CBC promotional image of Peter Gzowski, circa 2000 Peter Gzowski, CC , LL.D , D.Litt (July 13, 1934 - January 24, 2002) was a Canadian broadcaster, writer and reporter, most famous for his work on the CBC radio show Morningside. ... Lester Bowles Mike Pearson, PC, CC, OM, OBE, MA, LL.D. (April 23, 1897 – December 27, 1972) was a Canadian statesman, diplomat and politician who was made a Nobel Laureate in 1957. ... Saint-Laurent, Saint Lawrence or Saint Laurence can mean many things; also St-Laurent, , St Laurence). ... Stanley Howard Knowles, PC , OC , BA , BD , LL.D (June 18, 1908 - June 9, 1997) was a Canadian parliamentarian. ... John George Diefenbaker (September 18, 1895 - August 16, 1979) was the thirteenth Prime Minister of Canada. ... The name David Lewis may refer to several people: David Lewis (philosopher) (1941-2001), an American-born philosopher famous for his theory of modal realism and his love for Australia. ... The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant movement that was most prominent in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century. ... Pierre Elliott Trudeau (October 18, 1919 – September 28, 2000) was the fifteenth Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984. ... The Right Honourable Charles Vincent Massey, CC PC (February 20, 1887 - December 30, 1967) was the eighteenth Governor General of Canada and the first who was born in Canada. ... The Massey Lectures are a prestigious annual event in Canada, in which a noted Canadian or international scholar gives a week-long series of lectures on a political, cultural or philosophical topic. ... Inside Massey Hall in 1945. ... Hart House Hart House is a student centre at the University of Toronto. ... The University of Toronto (U of T), in Toronto, Ontario, is the largest university in Canada by student population. ... Massey College is an elite graduate residential college affiliated with but independent from the University of Toronto. ... Met United Metropolitan United Church is a large church in downtown Toronto, Canada. ... Adolphus Egerton Ryerson (24 March 1803 – 19 February 1882) was a minister, educator, politician, and public education advocate in early Ontario, Canada. ... Victoria College is or was the name of several institutions of secondary or higher education, including: Victoria College, Alexandria, Egypt Victoria University in the University of Toronto, University of Toronto Victoria College, Texas Victoria College of Art Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne Victoria College, Jersey, Channel Islands... The University of Toronto (U of T), in Toronto, Ontario, is the largest university in Canada by student population. ... Photo of Ryersons Quad and Kerr Hall in downtown Toronto Ryerson University is a publicly funded post-secondary education institution located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Ontario, which is Canadas largest city. ... Robert Baird McClure (1900 – November 10, 1991) was a Canadian physician, medical missionary, and the 23rd Moderator of the United Church of Canada from 1968 to 1971. ...


Homosexuality

Homosexuality has been a particular bête noire for the United Church in the latter part of the 20th century. In keeping faith with its constituency, whose values may be somewhat more conservative than those of a central, sophisticated elite, while at the same time remaining true to its priorities as to educated and literate liberal Evangelical Protestantism, the United Church has trodden a rather difficult middle road. An increasingly inclusive stance has lost it many conservative congregations and members.

Statement in favour of equality of all sexual orientations, posted by a United Church in Montreal
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Statement in favour of equality of all sexual orientations, posted by a United Church in Montreal

The United Church is now generally very open to gay and lesbian members. Corporately, the church formally states that homosexuality "is not in itself a barrier" to becoming a minister. Many ministers solemnize marriages for same-sex couples, and United Church spokespersons advocate for gay rights in the greater community. Church delegates presented evidence in favour of same-sex marriage to the House of Commons Justice Committee during its cross-country hearings in 2003 and welcomed court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage in certain provinces. The 37th General Council, 2003, affirmed that "human sexual orientations, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are a gift from God and part of the marvelous diversity of creation." However, the process of coming to a church-wide decision on issues of human sexuality has been difficult, with some congregations electing to leave the church entirely during the 1988 controversy. Many of these congregations went into the Congregational Christian Churches of Canada. See Homosexuality and Christianity. Inclusivity statement posted at the Église Unie Saint-Jean, Montreal, affirming that the church welcomes people from all backgrounds including gays and lesbians. ... Inclusivity statement posted at the Église Unie Saint-Jean, Montreal, affirming that the church welcomes people from all backgrounds including gays and lesbians. ... The word homosexuality has acquired multiple meanings over time. ... The gay rights movement is a collection of loosely aligned civil rights groups, human rights groups, support groups and political activists seeking acceptance, tolerance and equality for non-heterosexual, (homosexual, bisexual), and transgender people - despite the fact that it is typically referred to as the gay rights movement, members also... Same-sex marriage is marriage between two people who are of the same sex (i. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Same-sex marriage was legalized across Canada by the Civil Marriage Act enacted on July 20, 2005. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation indepedently and autonomously runs its own affairs. ... See also: List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality See also: History of Christianity and homosexuality The issue of Homosexuality and Christianity has become a matter of intense theological debate among some Christians, with ongoing argument over whether homosexuality, and specifically homosexual sex, is immoral or a sin. ...


Abortion

The United Church has historically taken a position of support for women's rights, moderated by an acute sense of awareness of the value of human life and a commensurate consciousness of the ethical and theological difficulties of its small-C catholic sister communions of Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy and of its more conservative Evangelical Protestant fellows. In summary, the United Church's recent positions have followed upon its historic championing of the rights of women and have been as follows:

  • (1980) Declared support for contraception and access to abortion: "We do not support 'abortion on demand.' We believe that abortion should be a personal matter between a woman and her doctor, who should earnestly consider their understanding of the particular situation permitting the woman to bring to bear her moral and religious insights into human life in reaching a decision through a free and responsive exercise of her conscience." [2]
  • (1989) Policy paper issued urging the Canadian government "not use the provisions in the Criminal Code to regulate abortion" [3]
  • (1990) Issued policy paper encouraging the Canadian government to improve rural access to abortion [4]

United Church of Canada theologians and important thinkers

The United Church has followed closely in the footsteps of its English Puritan and Scottish Reformation forbears in championing education and literacy in the broadest sense.


It is difficult to separate outstanding United Church thinkers and contributors to national intellectual life in terms of strictly Church-related thinking, teaching and publication, since historically the United Church has always been close to the centre of mainstream Canadian thought, whether as a leader or a follower. However, important avowedly United Church intellectuals include the following:

  • Rev. Dr. R.B.Y. Scott — Professor, Union College, Vancouver, 1928-31; United Theological College, Montreal, 1931-35; dean of faculty of Divinity, McGill University 1945-66; professor, department of religion, Princeton University, 1955-68. Relevance of the Prophets, 1953 ISBN 1199236756; Treasures from Judaean Caves, 1955; The Psalms as Christian Praise, 1958; Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (1965) in the Anchor Bible Series; The Way of Wisdom, 1971); primarily now remembered for some ten of his 24 hymns, many written in the cause of the Fellowship for a Christian Social Order, especially the social gospel hymn "O day of God draw nigh."
  • Rev. Northrop Frye — Professor, Victoria College, University of Toronto. Not known primarily as a theologian but as a literary critic, one of the most distinguished of the twentieth century, but also wrote extensively on the Bible as a cultural artefact of western civilisation. In this context, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (1982), Words with Power: Being a Second Study of The Bible and Literature (1990) and Northrop Frye on Religion (2000). Frye had a notably wry attitude towards the United Church but considered it, despite its foibles, more congenial than Anglicanism or Roman Catholicism.
  • Rev. Dr. Douglas John Hall — professor emeritus at McGill University, known for his examination of how Christian belief has interacted with North American culture and history.
  • Rev. Dr. David Lochhead — wrote in the context of interfaith dialogue: "Dialogue is not so much a process of sharing truth as it is of discovering it....The most significant way in which truth a discovered in dialogue is when I and my dialogue partner together discover something neither of us had known before." (The Dialogical Imperative: a Christian Reflection on Interfaith Encounter)

Robert Blairgonie Young Scott was a clergyman of the United Church of Canada and an eminent Old Testament scholar at Princeton University in the U.S.A. He is noted nowadays for his staunch support for the social gospel ethos of the United Church, both at Princeton and at home... The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant movement that was most prominent in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century. ... Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye, CC, MA, D.Litt. ... McGill University is a publicly funded, research-intensive, non-denominational, co-educational university located in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. ...

Churches

See list of churches in the United Church of Canada This is a partial list of churches that belong to the United Church of Canada sorted by Conference and by Presbytery. ...


See also

The Moderator of the United Church of Canada is the head of the United Church of Canada, Canadas largest Protestant denomination. ... The Presbyterian Church in Canada is the name of a Christian church, of Protestant, of presbyterian, and reformed theology and polity, serving in Canada under this name since 1875. ... Knox College is a four-year coeducational private liberal arts college located in Galesburg, Illinois. ... TUXIS was a boys’ program similar to the Scouting movement promoted by Canadian Protestant churches. ... United and uniting churches are churches that bring together (or unite) different (predominantly) Protestant denominations in one organisation. ... Logo of the UCA The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) was formed on June 22, 1977 when the Methodist Church of Australasia, Presbyterian Church of Australia and Congregational Union of Australia came together under the Basis of Union document. ... The United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands is merged denomination dating from 1968 consisting of the former London Missionary Society (operating exclusively in Papua), the relatively marginal Presbyterian church (largely confined to Port Moresby itself) and the Methodist mission (largely operating in the New Guinea Islands... The Church of South India is an autonomous Protestant church of South India. ... The Church of North India has united various denominations and missions and orders in India. ... The Church of Pakistan is a protestant united church in Pakistan, which is part of the Anglican Communion. ... Emblem of the UCC The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States, generally considered within the Reformed tradition, and formed in 1957 by the merger of two denominations, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. ...

External links

Continuing Congregational Churches:

  • Congregational Christian Churches in Canada

Bibliography

  • Allan Farris, The Fathers of 1925: The Tide of Time, edited by John S. Moir, Knox College, 1978
  • C. E. Silcox, Church Union in Canada, Institute of Social and Religious Research, New York, 1933
  • Donald John MacRae Corbett, The Canadian Church Union of 1925 and the Law, Caven Library, Knox College 1957
  • E. Lloyd Morrow, Church Union in Canada: Its History, Motives, Doctrine and Government, Thomas Allen Publisher, Toronto 1923
  • Gershom W. Mason, The Legislative Struggle for Church Union, The Ryerson Press, Toronto 1956
  • John Webster Grant, The Canadian Experience of Church Union, Lutterworth Press, London 1967
  • N. Keith Clifford, The Resistance to Church Union, UBC Press, Vancouver 1985 ISBN 0-7748- 0212-X
  • Thomas Buchanan Kilpatrick, Our Common Faith, The Ryerson Press, Toronto 1928 ['With a Brief History of the Church Union Movement in Canada', Kenneth H. Cousand]
  • Munroe Scott, McClure: The China Years; McClure: Years of Challenge (biography of Dr. Robert McClure, vols. 1 and 2), Penguin Books Canada, Toronto 1979 and 1985.

  Results from FactBites:
 
United Church of Canada - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4251 words)
The United Church is a 1925 merger of the then largest and second-largest Protestant denominations in Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Methodist Church of Canada together with the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec, a numerically less significant but historically extremely important stream in in Evangelical Protestantism.
Stanley Knowles, a United Church minister, was a Manitoba CCF-NDP parliamentarian from 1942-1984 with a hiatus from 1958-62.
Church delegates presented evidence in favour of same-sex marriage to the House of Commons Justice Committee during its cross-country hearings in 2003 and welcomed court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage in certain provinces.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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