Music rang out in Sturgis for United Church anniversary

United Church congregations across Canada were invited to ring their church bells 91 times at 10:30 a.m. on June 15 to mark the 91st anniversary of the United Church of Canada.

Grace United Church in Sturgis had invited everyone to its celebration that included barbecued hamburgers, hotdogs and anniversary cake served on the front lawn of the church. The church does not have an actual bell but rang its musical chimes at intervals throughout the morning.

The United Church of Canada came into being on June 10, 1925. The inaugural service began at 10:30 a.m. This is why 10:30 a.m. was chosen as the time, in every time zone, for United Churches to celebrate their presence in the community, said information from the church.

The United Church of Canada is one of many denominations of the Christian faith, it said. The Christian faith began about 2,000 years ago with followers of Jesus, and grew enormously in the centuries after His death and resurrection.

Disagreements about theology and practice eventually led to the three major streams of Christian churches that exist today. All three trace their history to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and His early followers, it said.

The Roman Catholic Church identifies a direct connection between Peter, Jesus’ disciple, and the popes of today. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches diverged at the beginning of the second millennium. In the 16th century, Pastor Martin Luther and like-minded followers broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, beginning the Protestant movement that saw the rise of many denominations in many countries.

In 1925, three of these Protestant denominations, the Methodist, Congregationalist, and two-thirds of the Presbyterian churches in Canada amalgamated to create The United Church of Canada through an Act of Parliament, the information said. The agreement between these different traditions is found in the “Basis of Union.”

Since 1925, other smaller groups of churches and individual congregations joined the United Church of Canada, it said. There are approximately 3,200 United Churches in Canada today.

“The United Church is a very liberal faith with no one being denied membership,” said Rev. Miles Russell. “The United Church of Canada works with other churches and organizations around the world.

In 1936, the first female minister was ordained in the United Church, Russell said. “Here in the Preeceville and Sturgis United Church congregations, we have approximately 300 households involved with members ranging in age.

“The United Church serves people beyond the church and is open to all people in need. In Saskatchewan, the United Church supports a hospice chapel, four church camps, a First Nations All Nation Circle Converse and the Saskatoon Inter-ministry.”

The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, the information said. It ministers to over two million people in about 3,000 congregations.

The history of the United Church is closely entwined with the history of Canada itself, it said. The United Church continues to be a "uniting" church, and has been enriched by several additional unions since 1925.

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