COLLEGE STREET UNITED CHURCH

People helping people in the name of Jesus

What we Believe

WHAT WE BELIEVE

College St United belongs to the United Church of Canada. This simple creed (called "A New Creed") has been an affirmation of faith for the United Church since 1968:

We are not alone,

we live in God's world.
We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
    the Word made flesh,
    to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
    by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
    our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.

THE UNITED CHURCH CREST

History United Church Crest

The crest is the official signature of The United Church of Canada, placed on legal documents, ordination and commissioning certificates, and licences to perform the sacraments. Designed by the Rev. Dr. Victor T. Mooney (a treasurer of the United Church), it was officially adopted in 1944 by the 11th General Council.

* See the Guidelines for Use below if you are interested in using this image.

For our church members, this insignia is a spiritual and historic reminder. Its oval shape is derived from the outline of a fish, a symbol of identity by early Christians. The initials of the words "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour" spell the Greek word for fish.

The crest is designed in the form of a St. Andrew's Cross with an insignia in each of the four corners. The "X" at the centre, the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, is a traditional symbol for Christ. In the four corners of the crest are symbols, three of which are particularly associated with the three communions—Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian—that united to form The United Church of Canada in 1925.

  • The open Bible represents the Congregational Churches with their emphasis upon God's truth that makes people free. From this communion we have a heritage of liberty in prophesying, love of spiritual freedom, awareness of the creative power of the Holy Spirit, and clear witness for civic justice.
  • The dove is emblematic of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10) whose transforming power has been a distinctive mark of Methodism. Here our heritage is one of evangelical zeal, concern for human redemption, warmth of Christian fellowship, the testimony of spiritual experience, and the ministry of sacred song.
  • The burning bush is the symbol of Presbyterianism. It refers to the bush that burned and was not consumed (Exodus 3:2), and symbolizes the indestructibility of the church. From Presbyterianism we have received a heritage of high regard for the dignity in worship, the education of all people, the authority of scripture, and the church as the Body of Christ.
  • The symbols alpha and omega in the lower quarter are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They symbolize the eternal living God, in the fullness of creation (Revelation 1:8).

The Latin words ut omnes unum sint that surround the symbols on the crest mean That all may be one and are taken from John 17:21. They are a reminder that we are both a "united" and "uniting" church.

In 1980, a French translation of The United Church of Canada—L'Église Unie du Canada—was authorized by General Council to be added to the crest.

In August of 2012, at the 41st General Council, The United Church of Canada acknowledged the presence and spirituality of Aboriginal peoples in the United Church by revising the church’s crest. The crest changes include incorporating the four colours of the Aboriginal medicine wheel (yellow as a symbol of life and Asian people, black as a symbol of the south and dark-skinned people of the world, red as a symbol of the west and Aboriginal peoples, and white as the colour of the north and white-skinned people) and adding the Mohawk phrase “Akwe Nia’Tetewá:neren,” which means “all my relations.”

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

 
What We Believe

Like other Christian churches, The United Church of Canada is rooted in God, Jesus, and the Bible. However, the way we understand God, practice our faith, and read the Bible is distinct, just as it is distinct in other denominations of the Christian church.

A New Creed and A Song of Faith outline some of the basic elements of Christianity as understood and practised in The United Church of Canada.

We have two sacraments, baptism and communion, both of which are open to people of any age. We recognize the sacraments of baptism from other Christian denominations.

The United Church works together with other Christian churches whenever possible, and among people of other religions in Canada and throughout the world, on matters of social justice, peace, and human dignity.

See Overview of Beliefs for more detail.

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Congregations

The community of people who gather together in a church is the congregation.

It is served by a minister who is paid by the congregation and provides leadership, education, and worship. Other staff people, such as music directors, organists, office administrators, caretakers, teachers, and so on are either paid or volunteer.

All staff, including the minister, can be female or male, single or in a committed relationship. The money for the staff salaries and to maintain the church building comes from the weekly giving (offering) of the congregational members. The offering also supports the work of the church around the world through the national Mission and Service Fund.

While the minister and staff may have special roles in the life of a congregation, the members and volunteers are responsible for "running" the church.

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Finding a Congregation

Everyone is welcome at The United Church of Canada. We have communities of various cultural backgrounds offering worship in a variety of languages. Some congregations provide bilingual services, while others are unilingual. To find the closest congregation regardless of language, use the Find a Church feature. If you are looking for a francophone or bilingual (French/English) congregation, click here.

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What Happens on Sunday

Each congregation and its minister shape the Sunday service around the community and its traditions, so there are variations among United Church worship services. Nevertheless, some things tend to be common to most services:

  • When you arrive, you'll probably be greeted at the door and handed an order of service. Like a theatre program, this tells you what will happen during the service and about other events at the church throughout the week.
  • It is the custom in many United Churches to have children stay with their parent(s) for the first part of the service and then go to another room with a volunteer teacher for a Church School time. Church School programs vary by congregation. See Children & Young Teens Ministries for details on our ministry with children and youth.
  • For new parents, congregations often provide nursery facilities with a caregiver, but if you want to cradle your baby or toddler throughout the service, people understand that crying and squirming are part of their small lives and are quite acceptable during the service.
  • Services tend to be about an hour long.
  • There will be some readings, normally from the Bible, but often from other contemporary sources.
  • United Church people love to sing. Music and words are provided either in the leaflet or in a hymn book in the pew.
  • The minister or someone else will give a sermon, which is a reflection or commentary on the readings, current events, or life in general.
  • There are several times for prayer during the service. Some of these will be given by the minister, and others by a member of the congregation. In most United Churches, people usually stay seated to pray rather than kneel.
  • Communion is served numerous times a year in United Churches, but not every Sunday. Participation is open to all people attending the service, but is not mandatory.
  • An offering of money is collected to support the work of the church. There is no set amount; people give as they are able. This supports the local congregation (maintaining the building, providing programs, paying the minister), and also the work of the church around the world through the national Mission and Service Fund.
  • At the end of the service, people often gather for refreshments and conversation. It's there for everyone and you don't have to be a member to join in.

As you can see, there are few “rights and wrongs” about how to behave in a United Church service. The most important thing is being there!

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Church Life through the Week

Community and friendship are an important part of church life. Most congregations have activities and events that you can join or participate in that will help you meet people, make friends, and do worthwhile things. Many congregations feature things like

  • congregational dinners and lunches
  • spiritual formation and companioning
  • food preparation and delivery to shut-ins and elderly
  • support for life transitions (e.g., divorce, loss, bereavement)
  • book clubs
  • women's groups
  • men's groups
  • Bible reading and study
  • new parents' support
  • children's and adult's choirs
  • amateur theatre productions
  • quilting, woodworking, or handiwork clubs
  • soup kitchens
  • social justice activities
  • food and clothing banks
  • youth groups and activities
  • educational programs
  • and many others events

So there are lots of ways to get involved! Maybe you have a unique idea for a project or event that would flourish at your local United Church that they haven't thought of yet. Try it out!

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Learn More

To learn more about The United Church of Canada and its local congregations, you are warmly invited to browse the links on this page and other sections of this website, explore www.wondercafe.ca*, our new online community for discussion of all things spiritual, and of course, to visit a congregation near you. Also, check out Wikipedia* for a comprehensive look at The United Church of Canada from an outsider's point of view.