MINDEMOYA—The United Church is no stranger to amalgamation. Indeed, the national church came into being in 1925 with the joining of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches into one union.
On October 15, the celebration of yet another union took place with the joining of the Providence Bay United Church with the Mindemoya United Church to form the Trinity United Church Pastoral Charge whose amalgamated congregation will meet at the newly-renamed Trinity United Church in Mindemoya.
The Amalgamation Service was held at the Mindemoya church and began with a recognition of First Nation territory by Marian Sloss who had been chosen to be the first chair of Trinity United Church Council. “For thousands of years,” she said, “First Nations people have walked on this land. Their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives and spirituality. We gather on the territory of the Odawa and Ojibwe First Nations and acknowledge their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.”
Marguerite Hayes, representing the church council of Mindemoya United Church, was the next person to speak as she outlined the Declaration of Purpose of the amalgamation.
“The time has come,” she remarked, “for two points of the former Mindemoya Pastoral Charge, namely Providence Bay United Church and Mindemoya United Church to join together, under God’s leadership; to celebrate the ministry we have shared for many years and the amalgamation of the two points into one new faith community. It is fitting, therefore, that we have given our new community of faith a new name. The name we have chosen and which has been approved by Sudbury Presbytery is Trinity United Church. Today we come together with Presbytery representation to celebrate our union and our new beginning. During our many years of Christian service, God has walked with us through times of great joy and times of deep sorrow and struggle, and we offer our prayerful thanks. In his time and in this place, God has called us to move forward into a new relationship, a closer relationship, one union with another.
“In faith, trust and thanksgiving, we have responded to God’s call and we are ready to begin the next leg of our faith journey with God as our ever-present guiding light.
“The church is not a building made of wood, stone or bricks and mortar. The church is God’s people. People who love and worship God; people filled with love, compassion, strength and friendship. We have seen and felt our new church’s growing pains during its coming into being. We have journeyed through a period of metamorphosis and today we celebrate our new faith community, a joining of old friends and new friends. We readily embrace the offering of new life as we, God’s children, join together as one and so today, we lift our hearts in thankful praise.”
Following the call to worship by Reverend Joshua Kang, minister of the Trinity United Church, and a scripture reading by Leila Thureson, Reverend Stewart Walker of Sudbury Presbytery (of which Manitoulin Island United Churches are a part), was introduced as the guest speaker. He began his talk by noting that sometimes making an adjustment can be difficult. “We are often afraid of making a change,” he said. “I believe God has given us the resources to meet the situation.” He went on to remark that being certain of what God gives us to do does not make the fear go away and that the amalgamation was a difficult decision that had to be made. He mentioned church membership nationally began to drop off in 1965. He pointed out, though, that there was the potential to be a stronger body and that God would be with church members as their journey continues. “Trinity United Church,” he added, “does not belong to us. It belongs to the Kingdom of God.”
Barb Nott, the chair of Presbytery, brought greetings from the Sudbury Presbytery. “Grace, love and peace to you from Jesus Christ,” she told the church members and guests, “the head of the church in heaven and on earth, and from Sudbury Presbytery, Manitou Conference, and the United Church of Canada. We have gathered here in God’s presence to celebrate the amalgamation and formation of this new congregation, Trinity United Church Manitoulin. With joy and love we offer our congratulations and pray that you have a wonderful and meaningful ministry together.”
Ms. Nott also spoke for the Act of Covenant saying, “We have gathered in the sight of God to bring together these two historic congregations into one community of faith. In some ways, this act is similar to the rite of marriage because it brings two separate church families together into one new one. You each have your own history, customs and means of working together and you have now come before this presbytery so that we might, in the sight of God and this community, make you one.”
Ms. Nott finished with a declaration and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, and on behalf of the Sudbury Presbytery and the United Church of Canada, we declare that Providence Bay United Church and Mindemoya United Church are now one Church in Christ and from this moment forward will be known as Trinity United Church.” Members of Mindemoya and Providence Bay United Churches stood and responded in unison of their intention to join together Trinity United Church.
The United Church is one of the most progressive Christian churches in the world and the largest protestant denomination in Canada. Women were welcomed into the ministry in the 1920s and openly gay people as of 1988. Today, the national church makes a point of welcoming people from all backgrounds and orientations, including refugees. It is committed to social justice in Canada and around the world and to working ecumenically and with different faiths.