The United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 as a union of the Methodist, Congregationalist, and two thirds of the Presbyterian churches in Canada. As the country expanded westward, many protestant churches felt the need to work closer together to ensure there would be a church presence in every new community that was forming in the prairies and westward. This led to union talks from the 1880s onward, which culminated in church union in June 1925. Some Presbyterians, fearing a loss of denomination identity and certain key theological principles, opted not to join the union and instead formed what is now the Presbyterian Church in Canada. In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church also joined the union.
The Crest of the United Church of Canada bears witness to these founding denominations, incorporating symbols of Methodism (the dove), Presbyterianism (the open Bible), and Congregationalism (the burning bush), all united in Christ (the Alpha and Omega). The background colours of the aboriginal medicine wheel testify to the First Nations churches of these denominations that joined in union, and an acknowledgement that the church sits on Native soil. The Latin motto, ut omnes unum sint, is from John 19, Jesus’ prayer for his disciples: “That they may all be one.” This is echoed in the Mowhawk motto, akwe nia’ tetewá : neren, “All my relations.”
Today, the United Church of Canada is often seen at the forefront of Christian Social Justice and progressive Christianity in Canada and around the world. In 1936, the church ordained its first woman minister, The Reverend Lydia Gruchy. From the 60s onward, the church was outspoken about nuclear disarmament and against apartheid in South Africa. In 1988, General Council permitted the ordination of openly LGBT ministers and in the 90s and 00s was at the forefront of the push for legalization of same-sex marriages in Canada. The church continues to advance the cause of social justice from the local pulpit to the wider activities of the national church as we seek to make God’s justice known on earth.
Revelstoke United Church
A Methodist presence in Revelstoke goes back to 1889 with the establishment of a Methodist church on 3rd Street by the Rev. James Turner, which was moved to the present United Church site in 1905. The Presbyterian Church was established not long after in 1893 by Rev. Dr. James Robertson as St. Andrew’s Presbyterian. In 1905, a disagreement in the congregation caused a split and some members formed Knox Presbyterian Church on 2nd Street. The congregations reunited in 1909 as St. John’s Presbyterian Church.
Upon Church union in 1925, there were originally two United Churches in Revelstoke: Mackenzie Avenue United and St. John’s United. In 1927, they joined together as Revelstoke United Church. In 1937, the former Methodist church was gutted by fire, and it was decided that a new church should be built after selling the old Presbyterian building. The present church has stood since then, with some minor modifications.
Since then, Revelstoke United Church has been at the centre of town and an integral part of community life, hosting events, renting out to groups, and providing outreach services for those in need.