Central United Church Living Faith Story

The United Church of Canada

L’Église Unie Du Canada

Living Waters Region

Telling Our Story: Central United Church Living Faith Story

Our motto is: “Sharing the Gospel, serving in love.”

Description of Local Ministry

History:  Central United Church (“Central”, “CUC”) is located within the old village of Unionville, Ontario which is a designated Heritage District within Markham.  Methodists founded Central in 1840.  The sanctuary dates from 1879.  Extensive renovations were undertaken in 1986 when the sanctuary was remodeled and the present office and meeting room building added.

Community Context: The City of Markham is a fast-growing area and is notable for having a very multicultural population.

Vision, Mission, Core Values:  Our Vision Statement: Central United Church will be a thriving & welcoming community church encouraging all people to accept & grow in the Christian Faith.  Our mission as articulated in our church constitution is: “To grow in Christ and to help others grow with us”. 

The recently completed Strategic Plan also identified these eight Core Values of CUC:

  • Biblically based.
  • Fellowship and friendship.
  • Kindness and care.
  • Worship rooted in the historic Christian faith.
  • Prayer.
  • Inspiring music.
  • Wise and faithful stewardship.
  • Commitment by all to faith.

Our constitution recognizes and endorses the original Twenty Articles of Doctrine (1925), which formed the basis of the Union of The United Church of Canada.

This is who we are and what we prioritize

#1 Worship

The core of our Worship is our Sunday morning service.  We presently have one worship service each Sunday. We live stream the service through YouTube, and make recordings available to those unable to attend.   We follow the Christian calendar, with a special focus and services for Advent and Holy Week.  Additional worship services are added as the season dictates.  For example, we have special services on Maundy Thursday, during Advent, on Christmas Eve, and an annual Comfort Service at the beginning of Advent.  Worship generally includes prayer, music, and the Word of God delivered through a variety of scripture readings and a biblically-based sermon.

Our Music Director works to enhance worship in close collaboration with the Minister & the Worship Committee.  Led by our choir & supported by piano & a Phoenix digital organ, the congregation enjoys a mix of traditional hymns, newer hymns, & praise songs.  Music is one of the strengths of our worship services. Each Sunday members of the congregation take part in the service in a variety of ways; Worship Leaders, Scripture Readers, Greeters, Sunday School Leaders, etc. 

#2 Spiritual Development

Central is a community growing together in our faith in God through coming to personally know the love of Jesus in our lives.  Our primary focus is on our Sunday worship service.  We feature Biblically-based preaching for adults that is relevant to our lives today and supports our faith.  For children, we feature a “Children’s Time” during our Sunday worship service each week. We also have an engaging Sunday School program for children that is both fun and provides a solid foundation for growing their faith. 

Following most Sunday morning worship services, we offer the opportunity for a coffee hour which enables fellowship time as a congregation and the opportunity to meet and speak with any newcomers. The coffee hour has become a cherished tradition by many.

Central offers a variety of programs and opportunities to grow in faith.  Midweek activities include a prayer meeting, book groups, and outreach programs.

The Small Group Ministry is important to Central.  The goals of this ministry are as follows:

  • To organize and promote both a Lenten Series and a fall Bible Study.
  • To cultivate deeper relationships among our members while growing in our individual understanding and practice of our faith.
  • To create a venue that would introduce God and our church family to the broader community.

#3 Governance & Leadership

The Central Constitution identifies five Standing Committees that lead and oversee the core activities of the Church.  The Standing Committees are Administration & Property, Christian Education, Outreach, Stewardship & Finance and Worship.  Each Standing Committee has defined Terms of Reference under the Constitution and reports regularly to the Congregational Council through their Chair.

Central ratified the Five-Year Strategic Plan in the fall of 2023.  As part of the implementation of that strategic plan, a lay person has been brought on board to work with the Implementation Team as Strategic Plans Coordinator and to be the leader for Christian Education.

Other functional groups within the Church that are active as required include:  Trustees, Ministry & Personnel, Regional Representatives, United Church Women, Small Group Ministry, and Visitation and Pastoral Care. 

From time to time, there are also ad hoc and/or subcommittees established to carry out specific tasks as determined by the Congregational Council.

The Congregation is the basic decision-making body of the Church.  It meets once a year to receive and approve reports, elect Congregational Council members, approve the annual financial statements and the following year’s budget, and approve or reject proposals by the Congregational Council, Standing Committees, Other Functional Groups, and ad hoc/subcommittees. Special Congregational meetings may be called throughout the year on an as-needed basis.

 #4 Pastoral Care

Central has an active and functional Visitation and Pastoral Care group. The Minister of Worship & Pastoral Care oversees a dedicated team of pastoral care visitors. The Visitation and Pastoral Care team engages in the following roles:

  • To visit the elderly or ill.
  • To maintain contact with those in personal crisis, transition bereavement, or unable to attend church services due to illness.
  • To connect with those new to the Church and with families following life events, such as baptisms, weddings, confirmations etc. Activities include a greeting card ministry, Prayer Shawl ministry and a Blessing Blanket for each child and adult baptized.
  • To engage in an active Prayer Chain.
  • To provide opportunities for the sharing and exchange of ideas on how to help people in need.

#5 Compassion and Outreach

Our purpose in this category is to follow Christ’s command by reaching out with compassion and love to those who live in the community and by demonstrating our concern for the world community by actively supporting Church outreach projects and programs.  

General goals and specific activities are aimed at promoting an awareness of & support for local organizations & programs, and international concerns as decided by this Committee.

Outreach projects supported by the congregation in the recent past have included: Camp Big Canoe, Shangilia Children’s Home in Kenya, Freedom House Orphanages in Haiti, Teen Challenge GTA, Reg Reimer (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada), Ontario Christian Gleaners, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Christian Blind Mission, Watercan, Yellow Brick House, Salvation Army, Save the Mothers, The Scott Mission, Yonge Street Mission, Fred Victor Mission, S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation, The Samaritan’s Purse Shoeboxes, The Markham Food Bank, 360 Degree Kids, Plan International and Compassion Canada, United Church Mission & Service, and Sleeping Children Around the World.

#6 Stewardship

Our Stewardship and Finance Committee monitors the financial affairs of the Church and communicates regularly the status of our financial position through announcements before Sunday worship services, in the weekly church email communication, and occasional updates through written communications in a mailing to the Congregation.

Our Church building and facilities are well maintained by an active Administration and Property Committee.

#7 Ministry Partnerships

Our church facility is used each Sunday afternoon by the Agape Bible Church (Chinese Language).

Central supports several community-based programs: including Bible Study Fellowship, the Unionville Co-operative Nursery School, Unionville Community Centre for Seniors (UCCS), Unionville Bridge Group, Scouts, Guides, and an Al-Anon Family group. Other churches in our community include the local Presbyterian, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. There are occasional joint efforts with worship and fellowship events. 

Ministry and Mission Goals and Action Plan

Goal #1 – Christian Spiritual Growth and Education

To promote and encourage the continued Christian spiritual growth of all who are part of the Congregation, and to reach new people by providing:

  • A suitable place of worship
  • Meaningful experiences in worship
  • Programs in religious education for all ages – support and guidance
  • Encouraging our members to live a life of Christian witness and fellowship through their daily routine and contacts, by visiting other churches when they are away, and by inviting friends, relatives, and any other acquaintances to participate in worship at Central. Also, members are encouraged to invite and welcome acquaintances to attend mid-week groups at Central.
  • Over past years the congregation has benefited from programs such as Living Lent, Bethel, Alpha, Lay Witness Mission, Creation Youth Music Festival and small group Bible studies.
  • There is a desire to expand weekday ministries that would emphasize discipleship and attract others in the community.

Actions:

  • As a result of the 2023 Strategic Plan, Central is taking incremental steps to attract younger families and new attendees across ages and ethnicities.
  • Please also see “Goals” and “Resources Needs” sections of the Strategic Plan, which is located on the CUC website www.centralunitedchurch.com (see Strategic Planning dropdown).
  • Through the Worship Committee, plan and provide meaningful worship services that promote spiritual growth and education.
  • Small Group Ministry to better connect the Church community with each other, to reach out to others, and to provide study and social programs for our Congregation.

Resources:

  • Worship and Christian Education budgets
  • Resources to maintain the beautiful facilities we have at Central

Roles:

  • Lead Person(s): Worship Committee, Small Group Ministry Team, Leader of Christian Education and Strategic Plans Coordinator
  • Members: Various congregational volunteers
  • Role of Ministry Personnel: Lead and resource

Measurement:

  • Progress will be measured by attendance at weekly Sunday worship services and participation in Small Group Ministry and other worship groups.

Goal #2 Local and World Outreach

To follow Christ’s command by reaching out with compassion and love to those who live in the community and by demonstrating our concern for the world community by actively supporting Church outreach projects and programs compatible with a Christian witness.

Actions:

  • The Outreach Committee has the primary responsibility to carry out the support (both financial and actions for certain Outreach projects) and meet regularly to discuss specific Outreach projects and action plans.

Resources:

  • Annual budget for Outreach Committee
  • Congregational donations directed to Outreach

Roles:

  • Lead Person: Outreach Committee, Leader of Christian Education and Strategic Plans Coordinator
  • Role of Ministry Personnel: Oversee and resource

Measurement:

  • Outreach donations made on an annual basis, as reported to the Congregation.
  • The number of Outreach projects undertaken/supported by Outreach throughout the year.

Goal #3Fellowship and Pastoral Care 

To foster genuine Christian fellowship among the families and individuals of our Congregation so that in an atmosphere of friendliness, life can be more fully realized.

Actions:

  • Fellowship activities are an ongoing planning item at Congregational Council meetings (coffee hour after Sunday worship service, soup lunches and many other fellowship activities).  
  • The Visitation and Pastoral Care Team, together with the leadership of the Minister of Worship and Pastoral Care have primary responsibility to carry out the pastoral care initiatives of Central.  The team has recently been re-energized and established protocols, lists of people to visit and conducted training to all those involved with visitation to ensure that the pastoral care goal is met.

Resources:

  • Congregants who offer their time for Visitation and Pastoral Care initiatives.
  • Role of Ministry Personnel: Oversee and resource

Roles:

  • Fellowship activities led by the Congregational Council or sometimes delegated to a standing committee.
  • The Visitation and Pastoral Care team has a team leader who coordinates activities and consults with the Minister of Worship and Pastoral Care regularly.

Measurement:

  • The number of fellowship activities undertaken/supported throughout the year and the level of participation by the Congregation.
  • Visitation and Pastoral Care measured by the number of visits every year.