United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada (French: Église unie du Canada) is a mainline Protestant denomination[2] that is the largest Protestant Christian denomination in Canada and the second largest Canadian Christian denomination after the Catholic Church in Canada.[3]

United Church of Canada
Église unie du Canada
The official seal of the United Church of Canada
ClassificationMainline Protestant
OrientationCalvinist
PolityPresbyterian
General SecretaryMichael Blair
ModeratorRichard Bott
AssociationsCanadian Council of Churches; World Communion of Reformed Churches; World Council of Churches; World Methodist Council
RegionCanada (plus Bermuda)
OriginJune 10, 1925
Mutual Street Arena, Toronto, Ontario
Merger ofMethodist Church, Canada; two thirds of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; and the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec
Congregations2,711[1]
Members388,363 registered (baptized) members[1]
Official websiteunited-church.ca

The United Church was founded in 1925 as a merger of four Protestant denominations with a total combined membership of about 600,000 members:[4] the Methodist Church, Canada, the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec, two-thirds of the congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the Association of Local Union Churches, a movement predominantly of the Canadian Prairie provinces. The Canadian Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined the United Church of Canada on January 1, 1968.[5]

Membership peaked in 1964 at 1.1 million and has declined since that time.[4] From 1991 to 2001, the number of people claiming an affiliation with the United Church decreased by 8%, the third largest decrease in mainstream Christian denominations in Canada.[6] Church statistics for the end of 2018 showed 388,363 members in 317,051 households under pastoral care, of whom 120,986 attend services regularly[1] in 2,119 communities of faith representing 2,774 congregations.[7] In 2011, Statistics Canada reported approximately 2 million people identifying as adherents.[1]

The United Church has a "council-based" structure, where each council (congregational, regional, or denominational) has specific responsibilities. In some areas, each of these councils has sole authority, while in others, approval of other councils is required before action is taken. (For example, a congregation requires regional council approval before a minister can be called or appointed to the congregation.) The policies of the church are inclusive and liberal: there are no restrictions of gender, sexual orientation or marital status for a person considering entering the ministry; interfaith marriages are recognized; communion is offered to all Christian adults and children, regardless of denomination or age.[8]