History – story of the church

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Eglinton St. George's United Church opened its doors in 1999 following the amalgamation of the former Eglinton United Church and the former St. George's United Church. The new congregation makes its home on 35 Lytton Blvd in North Toronto, the site of the former St. George's United Church.

 

 

A Look Back and a Step Forward

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You can also see an overview of the history of the United Church of Canada by clicking here to view the Historical Timeline of the United Church in Canada.



 

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Eglinton United Church

Eglinton began as a Wesleyan Methodist brick chapel in 1830 on rural Yonge St. north of the town of York. Its name became Eglinton Methodist. Several additions were made and in 1924 a new church, with space to house a large Sunday School, was built on the present site of 65 Sheldrake Avenue.

 

By 1940, the total membership was almost 2000, with over 1000 in the Sunday School. In 1957, a large Christian Education wing was constructed.

Between 1930 and 1994, the Eglinton congregation was served by ordained ministers Rev. Dr. William Johnston (25 years.), Rev. Dr. Edward Cragg (15 years), Rev. Dr. Bob Bater (4 years), Rev. Dr. Bob Smith (11 years) and Rev. Dr. David McKane (11.5 years). Eglinton also had the help of deaconesses and diaconal ministers including Rev. Dr. Robin Smith, Rev. Richard Cammidge, Rev. Don Lowry, Rev. Wayne Hilliker, Audrey McKim, Sylvia Hamilton, Maureen Heath and Sylvia Bell.  Rev. Joe Brown held a special place in the story of Eglinton both for his pastoral work and his role in the development of low income housing in North Toronto. By 1980 the concept of "team ministry" was developed, with two "ordered" ministers sharing the ministry. 

Eglinton also went through changes in organization: a unified budget guaranteed the donations to the Mission and Service Fund and women were appointed to the Official Board. A new congregational structure replaced the Session with functional committees, and the chairs of which formed an executive.

The choirs at Eglinton had great esprit de corps and its members were active in all aspects of congregational life. Lay people were also much involved in worship services and many refugee families were sponsored by Eglinton. Many candidates for ministry started their journey as members of this congregation. A woman’s group with participation from many churches and denominations arose out of an interest in feminist theology.

Throughout its history, Eglinton valued its Methodist heritage and expressed this through groups such as Peace with Justice, support of Amnesty International, and concern for the poor and marginalized, locally and abroad.

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St. George's United Church

St. George’s began as Eglinton Presbyterian Church with a building on Yonge St. in 1890. When The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925, a decision was made to allow Eglinton Methodist, which was formed earlier, to retain the name of "Eglinton". The church became St. George’s United.

 

The church building at 35 Lytton Boulevard was erected in 1924. The church school wing was completed and dedicated in the fall of 1932. From the beginning, St. George’s benefited from the talents of many capable people in leadership roles. Senior ministers, including Rev. Dr. William Back, Rev. Dr. Willard Brewing, Rev. Dr. John Short, Rev. Dr. Angus MacQueen, Rev. Dr. Robert Mumford and Rev. Ian MacLean all inspired and challenged the congregation.

A succession of leaders helped develop and sustain Christian education for children and youth: in recent years these included Deanna Wilson, Florence Newman, Rivkah Vaage, Sylvia Hamilton, Clark Saunders and Bill Bartram. Youth ministry, youth and junior choirs, youth orchestra, confirmation classes, and "Family Services in the Chapel", were some of the signs of the involvement with youth and children and their families.

Starting in the 1960’s, music took a high profile at St. George’s. The choirs were involved in church services, concerts, and many endeavors outside the church. The Youth Choirs in the ‘60s won many awards and even performed in Westminster Abbey.

St. George’s had a long history of social service and support for the underprivileged, both at home and internationally. Givings to the Mission and Service Fund were consistently among the highest across Canada. The congregation supported missionaries at several times in its life. The War Memorial Bursary continues to support foreign theology students studying in Canada before returning to their native countries.

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