Belief at the United Church of Canada is rooted in God, Jesus, and the Bible. The way we understand God, practice our faith, and read the Bible is different from other Protestant denominations. In the United Church, we often refer to "the Sacred" as well as to God. We look to the Bible as a set of historical texts which have much to teach us today. We embrace many varieties of faith.
Below, you will find some basic information about what we believe in at the United Church of Canada. If you are interested in more information on any of the topics, we encourage you to visit the United Church of Canada website.
The Bible is central to The United Church of Canada. As a source of wisdom, personal prayer, and devotion, we believe the Bible can bring us closer to God. It remains one of our best ways of experiencing God's continuing work of creation and liberation in the world.
We often refer to a passage as "the Word of God." By this we mean the writer was inspired by God. The various books that make up the Bible are the stories of two ancient communities, Ancient Israel and the early Christian movement, as they strove for faith to God under difficult circumstances. Some of the experiences and writings of the people of those ancient communities do not align with today’s world. We don't condone slavery, for example, or stone those who commit adultery. Nevertheless, in its stories and teachings the Bible has a mysterious power to inform our lives.
A sacrament is a symbolic action, or ritual, by which people of faith encounter the presence and goodness of God. In a sacrament, ordinary things like water, bread, and wine are used to point us to God and God’s love, reminding us of the sacred in life. In the United Church, we celebrate two sacraments: baptism and communion.
Baptism is a symbolic action that signifies the new life God gives us as we join the church community. Baptism uses water as a symbolic cleansing that signifies the acceptance of new life within the church family. The sacrament of baptism is the single rite of initiation into the Christian community, the church.
The United Church offers baptism to all ages. We believe the gift of God's love doesn't depend on our ability to understand it, so we baptize people as infants right up through adulthood. Baptism is not a requirement for God's love. We believe people who die without baptism are in no way condemned, lost, or damned.
Baptism in the United Church is recognized by all denominations of the Christian church that practice infant baptism. Similarly, if people have already been baptized in another church, the United Church recognizes their baptism and welcomes them as Christians.
The Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion—these different terms refer to the same sacrament shared by most Christian denominations, a symbolic meal.
Communion is celebrated at a table that suggests the dining table in our homes. At the communion table, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the host and all are guests. The meal uses the symbols of small pieces of bread and a taste of wine or juice to remind us of Jesus’ last supper with his followers and of God’s enduring love.
The United Church invites all who seek to love Jesus to share in this family meal.
The United Church of Canada prides itself on welcoming everyone the way Jesus did, regardless of age, race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical ability.
The church works hard to appreciate people of all ages, from grandparents to newborns. Children aren't viewed as adults-in-waiting, nor are they on display for the amusement of the adults. They're full and welcome participants at the heart of each congregation, bringing ideas and unique talents that can inspire the entire church.
We see people as unique, loved creations of God and welcome all people to the full life of Christian community, including marriage. We believe God intends loving relationships to be faithful, responsible, just, healing, and sustaining of the couple and those around them, and that such relationships require preparation and nurture. The United Church celebrates the marriage of same-sex couples, previously divorced people, couples of different religions, and all people who believe in Jesus Christ and want to live faithful to his way.
The United Church of Canada views the religious practice of all people of goodwill with respect and gratitude. We believe the Spirit of God is at work in many different faith communities.
For Christians, Jesus is the way we know God. Our understanding is nonetheless limited by human imagination. God is greater still and works in our world by a mysterious Spirit that knows no distinction at the doorway of a Christian chapel, Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh temple, Aboriginal sweat lodge, Muslim mosque, or Jewish synagogue.
We work together with other Christian churches whenever possible, and among people of other religions in Canada and throughout the world on matters of justice, peace, and human dignity. Today, difference is everywhere around us and, we believe, a great cause for celebration.
Caring for one another was central to Jesus' teachings: Feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those in prison.
We believe we strengthen one another to work, through God's grace, for a better world. To this end, we cooperate with other churches, faith traditions, and people of goodwill to eliminate poverty and protect those who are most vulnerable. Throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the United Church works with many churches and partner organizations by supporting the work they see as vital to their well-being. This enables us to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and shelter the homeless far beyond our normal reach.
For detailed information on the faith convictions of The United Church of Canada, see:
"A New Creed" a brief and well-loved statement of our relationships with God and with one another (1968, with later revisions)
“A Song of Faith," a contemporary statement of our faith (2006)
Edited from "What We Believe" [online]. The United Church of Canada. Cited December 11, 2017. <<http://www.united-church.ca/community-faith/welcome-united-church-canada/what-we-believe>> Used with permission by The United Church of Canada. All rights reserved.