The United Church of Canada is one of the largest Protestant
denominations in Canada. It ministers to almost three million people worshipping in 3677
Congregations or Preaching Places.
The United Church of Canada was inaugurated on June 10, 1925 in Toronto, Ontario, when the Methodist Church (Canada), the Congregational Union of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the small General Council of Union Churches entered into union. It was the first union of churches in the world to cross historical denominational lines and hence received international acclaim. Impetus for the union arose out of the concerns for serving the vast Canadian northwest and in the desire for better overseas mission.
The merger in 1925 had one major dissenting voice: Approximately thirty percent of the Presbyterians refused to enter the merger and continued as the Presbyterian Church of Canada.
In fulfillment of its mandate to be a "uniting" Church, the United Church has been enriched by several unions since 1925; notably, The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bermuda (1930), and Canada Conference of The Evangelical United Brethren Church (1968).
Recently, the Anglican Church of Canada and The United Church of Canada have begun an ongoing dialogue. These are the first formal conversations between the two denominations since the 1970s.
The United Church of Canada was structured to empower the Congregations to act relatively autonomously, though under the guidelines of the United Church. As such, there is no single individual setting rules and policy.
The Pastoral Charge is the fundamental unit of the United Church and includes one, or more, Congregation. Where necessary, some Congregations are grouped into a single Pastoral Charge to share the spiritual leadership of a Minister. Each Pastoral Charge is governed by either a Session, Church Board, or Church Council and operates within the guidelines of the United Church of Canada.
These Pastoral Charges are arranged by local area into 91 administrative Presbytery groups. Presbyteries are further collected into 13 regional Conferences. The Conference offices work with the Presbyteries and Pastoral Charges.
The General Council is the highest legislative court, consisting of members elected by the Conferences. The General Council meets every three years to consider and set policy. The General Council is advised by approximately 80 committees and task groups, composed of elected members, volunteers, and General Council staff.