From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A united church, also called a uniting church, is a church formed from the merger or another form of union of two or more different Protestant denominations.
Historically, unions of Protestant churches were enforced by the state, usually in order to have a stricter control over the religious sphere of its people, but also other organizational reasons. As modern Christian ecumenism progresses, unions between various Protestant traditions are becoming more and more common, resulting in a growing number of United and uniting churches. Some of the recent major examples are the United Protestant Church of France (2013) and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (2004). As mainline Protestantism shrinks in Europe and North America due to the rise of secularism, Reformed and Lutheran denominations merge, often creating large nationwide denominations. The phenomenon is much less common among evangelical, non-denominational and charismatic churches as new ones arise and many of them remain independent of each other.
Perhaps the oldest official united church is found in Germany, where the Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of Lutheran, United (Prussian Union) and Reformed churches, a union dating back to 1817. The first of the series of unions was at a synod in Idstein to form the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau in August 1817, commemorated in naming the church of Idstein Unionskirche one hundred years later.
Around the world, each united or uniting church comprises a different mix of predecessor Protestant denominations. Trends are visible, however, as most united and uniting churches have one or more predecessors with heritage in the Reformed tradition and many are members of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches…
The United Church of Canada (French: Église Unie du Canada) is a mainline Reformed denomination and the largest Protestant Christian denomination in Canada, and the largest Canadian Christian denomination after the Catholic Church. In 2011, Statistics Canada reported approximately 2 million people identifying as adherents. The United Church was founded in 1925 as a merger of four Protestant denominations with a total combined membership of about 600,000 members: 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.
Membership peaked in 1964 at 1.1 million and has declined since that time. 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. Church statistics for the end of 2014 showed 413,717 members in 327,847 households under pastoral care. As of December 31, 2016, 132,459 people attend services in 2,141 pastoral charges representing 2,834 congregations on a regular basis.
The United Church has a “council-based” structure, where each council (congregational, regional, or denominational) have 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 Presbytery 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.
The United Church of Canada
Toronto, Ontario M8X 2Y4