Is the United Church of Canada Christian?


I am a convert from non-practicing UCC to Catholicism. Most of my family are baptized in the United Church, but are mostly secular. My mother however goes to the Sunday service at a local Anglican church, although she professes that her loyalties still lie with the UCC.

I have been wondering what the consensus is on the Christianity of the UCC, considering they seem to be anti-dogmatic and reminiscent of Unitarian Universalist practices. Although they have roots in Protestant theology, everything I have encountered since my family stopped regularly going to UCC services indicates that they have mostly abandoned the idea that salvation comes from Christ. There have been a number of news headlines over the past few years about atheist ministers in the church, and also about the waning influence the UCC has in Canada (I’d say it’s because their anti-dogmatic position doesn’t provide young people with answers to the questions we have).


No, they are not. I have atheist friends in Canada that go there specifically because the UCC is not Christian.


Consensus among whom? I’m sure the consensus among their members is that they are Christians. If you are looking for an “official Catholic position” on the matter, there is none. The Church doesn’t play that game.


The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of their Trinitarian baptisms. They seem to have the same problems most mainstream Protestant churches have had with orthodoxy. Pray for them. It is critical that the Catholic Church remain faithful during the sad era that we are in.


I believe they baptize in the Holy Trinity, so their baptized members are technically Christians. They’re the second largest Christian denomination in Canada; they’ve formed from a merger of several Protestant denominations a few decades ago. They are very liberal or “progressive” about social issues, such as abortion, same-sex unions, etc. I’ve heard recent reports about some atheist ministers as well. As long as those atheists have the proper intention to baptize and baptize with water using the trinitarian formula for people seeking baptism, then the members are most likely still validly baptized Christians. I believe they don’t view baptism as necessary, however, so it is likely that a large proportion of their members are not baptized.


An atheist cannot baptize a Christian! Lord help us all!!!


There is an atheist minister. A reviewing panel of the Church recommended that she be defrocked. The issue is presently awaiting a hearing before a judicial committee. It is not known when the hearing might take place.


I agree it does not appear to make sense however I understand that the RCC also says it can be done if proper protocols are followed.


That is correct. Use of the Trinitarian formula, water, a valid subject (human) and a sacramentally valid intent (to do what the Church does, in the action: facere quod facit ecclesia). A non-believer, who does not accept the concept of baptism, can validly confect the sacrament, if the intent is to do whatever the Church does, in the action.


What if the minister is a secret atheist? Essentially, all baptisms would be in doubt because no one can know for certain who is an atheist or not.


The Church considers those to be Christian who are baptized into Christ and place their faith in Him (cf. CCC 818). Looking at their website, this group requires basic Trinitarian faith of their ministers, but the rest of their members do not need to believe any creed or doctrine. Their baptisms appear to be Trinitarian, but they refer to the Trinity in different ways in addition to the traditional one, like “Mother, Friend, and Comforter.” If they were to use this formula, it would invalidate the baptism.

So my best answer as to whether this groups is Christian would be it’s likely a mix of Christians and non-Christians.


I know someone who tried to attend a United Church of Canada congregation because it was close to where he was living at the time. It was off the list no matter what after the first sermon from the minister who said a literal Resurrection wasn’t important.
You have the infamous atheist minister. A former moderator of the UCC is also an atheist denying Jesus is God back in the late 1990s. Another moderator was active in homosexual activity. Another moderator who joined because of its environmental activism and says UCC members don’t have to believe in any Christian doctrines. And then you have that anecdotal account. Plus all of the other anti-Christian teachings, it sure isn’t a good sign for the institution as a whole. But like all Mainline denominations, there are still Christians in them but for how long they will still be welcome is up in the air.


If they don’t refer to the Holy Trinity as “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” then those baptisms would not be valid.


Actually, the Catholic Church teaches that anyone can perform a valid baptism as long as they intend to actually baptize the person (example: peforming fake baptisms as part of a game would not be valid). They just have to pour, sprinkle, or immerse the person in water and use the trinitarian formula. That is why Catholic clergy often tell the laity that anyone, even an atheist, could validly baptize an infant who is in immediate danger of death. It is also why we recognize Protestant baptisms. One does not need to be validly ordained to perform a baptism. The efficacy of the sacrament also is not dependent on the holiness of the ministers.


Yep. This is the point in what the RCC teaches on this. Valid sacramental intent is required to confect any sacrament. Given that intent is, as stated in Apostolicae Curae, an interior state, and not directly discernible, then, absent any method to determine what the intent was (something to serve as a determinatio ex adiunctis), if all visible sacramental requirements are valid (form, subject, minister, matter), the intent is also taken to be sacramentally valid.


One does not even have to believe in baptism, as long as the intent in the action is to do what the Church does, in the action.


Dr. David Anders has mentioned this many times; that the Catholic Church takes the sacrament of baptism so seriously than anyone can do it for one who wishes it be done.


I don’t know; but there are more than a few people that would claim that the Catholic Church isn’t christian either. I guess it’s a point of view. Either way, our issue isn’t people that are christian or marginally christian; it’s the people who have no attachment to Christianity at all.


I would reiterate what has been said many, many times on various EWTN programs; that only God can know the heart of any one individual. While it is definitely true that the United Church of Canada has strayed pretty far from the trunk of the tree, there is no way for we observers to say it is or is not made up of Christians. There are still many United churches where I live, but they are not growing by any means.


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