The Mutual Street Arena in Toronto was filled to capacity as 347 men and women Commissioners and 8,000 supporters sang, accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” That was fifty years ago, on June 10, 1925. Representatives from Methodist, Congregational, and Presbyterian congregations across Canada had assembled to consummate the first major church merger in the world.

Dr. S. D. Chown, general superintendent of the Methodist Church in Canada, spoke the fateful words: “I hereby declare that the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Congregational Churches of Canada, and the Methodist Church, Canada, along with the General Council of Local Union Churches are now united and constituted as one church to be designated and known as The United Church of Canada.” This union brought together more than 600,000 members to form what has been considered Canada’s national church. Although the Methodists were by far the largest of the three negotiating bodies, upon a motion by Dr. Chown, the leader of the Presbyterian delegation, Dr. George Campbell Pidgeon, was elected as the first moderator of the United Church of Canada.

Church union had started long before 1925. As early as 1875 the four sections of Presbyterianism then existing united in taking the name “The Presbyterian Church in Canada.” In 1884 the four sections of Methodism united to form “The Methodist Church.” The various Congregational churches organized “The Congregational Union of Canada” in 1906. A early as 1885 the Church of England invited the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches to confer on church union. By 1892 the Presbyterian General Assembly approached the Congregational Church to confer with other churches on ...

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