1. Why should I come to Bathurst United Church?

Bathurst United has strong values of inclusion (we are an Affirming congregation), relationship, community and social justice. We find the root of our longing for connection in the story of Jesus and the Judeo-Christian faith. We put a lot of energy into worship, nurturing relationships among ourselves and in the community, and in striving for justice. We also know how to have fun! If this sounds like a community you'd like to get to know better, please visit us on a Sunday morning.

2. Why are you called Bathurst United? You aren’t on Bathurst St.

Our original location was on Bathurst Street at the current site of the Randolph Academy for the Arts. We moved to Trinity St Paul’s Centre in the mid-1980s.

3. What does it mean that Bathurst is part of the United Church of Canada?

We belong to the United Church of Canada. The United Church was founded in 1925 when four Protestant denominations merged. It is now the largest Protestant domination in Canada. The Bible is the major source of authority for our faith. Visit www.united-church.ca.

4. Where do members come from and who are they?

We come from all parts of Toronto and beyond. Some of our longtime members joined in the 1950s and are now seniors. Others include young adults and middle aged, singles and married, infants and children. Many of us were born in other countries and some people are new to Canada. We are gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, trans, celibate, queer, or searching. We represent varied economic backgrounds and employment. Many members face mental health challenges. In short, our community mirrors the diversity of Toronto. Our membership is about 65, with 30-35 people attending on Sunday mornings.

5. Do I have to follow a particular set of beliefs to be part of Bathurst?

No. We are more concerned with how we are called to live. For many of us, the story of Jesus is the key. That story teaches that we live life to the fullest when we are connected. We are called to be in relationship with one another in community, and to do all we can so that others may live their lives to the fullest. We are to reach out to the marginalized. The story of Jesus also tells us that we are part of the divine and the divine is part of us. We are called to love and protect all living things and all creation. For inspiration and guidance, we look to the Bible as well as to some of the important statements from the United Church such as the Song of Faith. We also draw from the wisdom of other faiths such as Canada’s Indigenous Peoples’ spirituality, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism.

6. I would like to explore my faith - I'm really not sure what faith means to me. Can I do that at Bathurst?

Bathurst members explore their faith through Bible study, book study, discussion groups, and other small group experiences. Our discussion after the Sunday service provides an important time for members to reflect on their faith. As well, the minister is available for spiritual direction and conversation. 

7. What are your worship services like?

We worship in the chapel at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre at 427 Bloor St. W. (at Walmer Rd). The entrance is along Bloor, several steps to the west of the Centre’s main doors. The service begins at 10:30 a.m. and lasts 60-90 minutes.

The services are often based on themes that reflect the interests or concerns of the congregation. Worship team members work with the minister and take on key leadership roles. After refreshments, we return to the chapel to talk about how the service affects our lives.

We worship in the round, with a large, low table in the centre. Children are welcome to sit at the table and use drawing and craft materials. We don't have a formal Sunday School.

Dress is casual. People do sometimes dress up for special events such as baptisms or the Christmas carol service.

There are no Sunday services in July and August. We meet on Wednesday evenings for a pot luck and informal discussion on a variety of topics. These gatherings are at College Street United Church.

8. How does the congregation encourage children and young adults to participate in worship services and activities?

“Table talk” at our Sunday services is a time for storytelling. The children sit around a table and a member of the congregation interacts with them. If they get restless, the child-care person takes them into the gym beside the chapel.

For the older children, ages 12 to 15, we have the Bathurst Youth Group. It meets outside of church time, but the young people take part in worship services now and then. The discussions include how religion and faith figure into climate change, social justice, interfaith friendships, democracy, culture and a whole lot more.

The Bathurst United Parenting Group meets once a month. Each evening begins with an hour or so of informal conversation and treats. In the second hour, the members explore topics such as the holy and unholy experiences of parenting, how to talk about sexuality to children and youth, and what it means to be a person of faith AND a parent. Anyone with children or young people living at home is invited.

9. I hear you are very committed to social justice at Bathurst. What is Bathurst doing to promote justice?

Bathurst has a long tradition of fostering social justice. One of our current projects is a partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). On the second and fourth Sundays of the month, our CAMH team offers worship to clients on the Forensic Assessment and Triage Unit at CAMH. As well, the congregation actively supports the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. We educate ourselves and take action in areas such as the Doctrine of Discovery, pipelines and resource extraction, and the ongoing impact of residential schools on Indigenous People. The Justice page has more on our initiatives to promote social justice. 

10. Do you have any events or gatherings to help members stay connected?

We have many events! The most frequent is our monthly spaghetti dinner. The host provides pasta and sauce; the guests bring sides and desserts. Autumn is usually the time for our annual fundraiser that can be a pot luck and concert or a games night. Our Good Friday pot luck is also an important tradition.

The congregation has two annual retreats: a fall event at Friends’ House and a spring weekend at Crieff Hills, near Guelph. The autumn retreat is an opportunity to spend a day exploring an issue. The Crieff Hills weekend is often a time to relax and strengthen community. In June, we hold a solstice service and picnic on Toronto’s eastern beach.

Members of the Pastoral Care Committee call or visit people who may be ill or in need of company or assistance. As well, our minister and volunteer pastoral associate are available for pastoral conversations.

We also stay connected through congregational newsletters and a Groups IO web platform where we post Sunday service bulletins and other administrative documents. 

11. How do decisions get made?

We govern ourselves through a “committee of the whole” where the congregation meets several times a year to reach consensus. Some decisions are made by a Coordinating Committee comprising the co-chairs, treasurer, secretary, the minister and representatives from the committees. A major focus of the Coordinating Committee is the agenda for the annual meeting. Much of the day-to-day work is carried out by our committees and working groups (i.e., Pastoral Care, Worship, Finance, Volunteer and Personnel).

12. What is involved in becoming a member?

At least once a year, our minister brings together people who are thinking of joining. Some people have been attending services; others are simply thinking of becoming members. We call this group The Embrace of Welcome. Over several weeks, the group meets for lunch or an early dinner. One or two current members share their perspective on life at Bathurst. New members are welcomed in a brief ceremony. Not everyone who attends our services becomes a member. Nor are they expected to.

13. What kind of financial contribution is expected from members?

At Bathurst, members donate according to their means. Some people make monthly contributions through the United Church’s direct withdrawal program. Others put their offering in the collection plate at Sunday services.

14. Can I attend services and possibly become a member, but without volunteering?

Bathurst United has a half-time minister. So, the members take on critical roles in several areas that include worship and pastoral care. The members also help one another in developing and deepening their faith.

We understand that not everyone is able to commit to an ongoing role. Many members prefer time-limited contributions such as working with a partner on Sunday refreshments or performing a scripture reading. Many members grow into leadership over time; others prefer to limit their volunteering.

15. Where can I learn more about Bathurst?

Please continue to explore this website, or better yet, come to a service on a Sunday morning. We would love to meet you!