United Church of Canada


United Church of Canada
   The United Church of Canada (UCC) continues the traditions of the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists in Canada. It was formed in 1925 by the merger of the Methodist Church (Canada, Newfoundland, and Bermuda), the Congregational Union of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the General Council of Union Churches of Western Canada. A minority of the Presbyterians did not accept the merger and continued under the former name. The UCC was an early expression of ecumenism; hopes of further consolidation toward a united Protestant church in Canada never materialized.
   The articles of faith included in the 1925 Basis of Union represented the consensus beliefs of the merging bodies. A new "Statement of Faith" was approved in 1940, and a brief "New Creed," adaptable for liturgical use, was approved in 1968. In 2000, the General Council asked the Committee on Theology and Faith to prepare a statement acknowledging both the theological diversity of the church and the pluralistic world in which it operates. The church is solidly in the liberal Protestant camp, and accepts modern biblical criticism.
   The church is divided into regional conferences that meet annually, and district presbyteries that have oversight of congregations in their area. The structure features elements from the three uniting churches, balancing the demands of Congregationalism and presbyterian polity. The UCC continues to work with churches around the world that derived from its historic missions, providing funds and personnel for a spectrum of projects.
   The UCC was the first denomination in Canada (and among the earliest in the world) to ordain women (1936). In 1980, Lois Wilson became the first woman moderator. It also led the way in liberalizing rules on the remarriage of divorced persons (early 1960s) and in 1988 began ordaining gay and lesbian persons.
   The UCC is the largest Protestant body in Canada, with some 660,000 confirmed members.
   In recent surveys, more than 3 million Canadians identify themselves as affiliated with it. Church headquarters are in Etobicoke, Ontario. The UCC helped organize the Canadian Council of Churches (1944) and was a charter member of the World Council of Churches in 1948. It is also a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council.
   See also women, ordination of.
   Further reading:
   ■ Steven Chambers, This Is Your Church: A Guide to the Beliefs, Practices and Positions of the United Church of Canada, 3rd ed. (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1993)
   ■ Shirley Davy, Women Work & Worship in the United Church of Canada (Toronto: The united Church of Canada, 1983)
   ■ John Webster Grant, The Canadian Experience of Church Union (London: Lutterworth Press, 1967)
   ■ Peter Gordon White, ed. Voices and Visions: Sixty-five Years of the United Church of Canada (Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 1990).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.