We are called ...
to live with respect in Creation
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil ...
- from the New Creed
The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 through the union of the Methodist, Congregational Union and some Presbyterian Churches. The Evangelical United Brethren joined in 1968. The United Church is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada.
The United Church has been structured in 4 levels called courts:
- The congregation: where decisions are made by the Session which oversees the spiritual interest of each church. Members of session share with the minister in the government and pastoral care of the congregation. The Session is responsible for worship, for the administration of sacrements, for Christian training, for keeping the membership role, and for outreach to the community and the world. Accordingly, church administration is developed from within the membership and therefore makes all the major decisions, such as choice of their minister.
- The presbytery groups congregations within a local area. Lay and ministerial delegates meet regularly to oversee the work of their congregations. There are 94 presbyteries within the church.
- The conference is an administrative grouping of presbyteries in a region. Lay and ministerial delegates meet annually. Full time staff work with presbyteries and local congregations. There are 13 conferences within the church.
- The General Council is the church's highest administrative body. Ordered ministry personnel and lay commissioners are elected by the conference.
In the tradition of its founding denominations, the United Church studies and speaks out on controversial topics, such as nuclear power, abortion and poverty at home and abroad. Positions are developed in the United Church courts and confirmed in General Council, which meets as a large body every 2 to 3 years and, as an executive, twice yearly. Because of these many courts, the opinions of all members of the United Church are heard.