Who we are?
Collier Street United Church acknowledges that long before those of us who are settlers, and those of us who are descendants of settlers, came to this land, there were people here. We know these First Nations peoples were Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Ojibway/Chippewa & Anishinabek, who made Treaty 16 possible.
Today, as a community of faith we seek to be good stewards and give thanks to this land and our commitment to live in right relations with people.
In the mid 1700s, there was a minister of the Church of England named John Wesley who noticed that his church had become inward-focused and self-serving. While the majority of people in England were laboring in poverty and untouched by the good news of Jesus, the Church of England was focused on the comfort and prestige of its members.
At that time, Wesley decided to reach out beyond the walls and parish boundaries of England’s state church and try new methods (hence Methodism) to bring his countryman into relationship with god through Jesus. He began having “class meetings”, less traditional times of worship and Bible study which took place outside church buildings and which appealed to the common non-church going person.
Collier's sanctuary in 1864
The emphasis of Wesley’s message was personal transformation through the faith in Jesus Christ. After becoming a believer, he taught, it was up to the individual to become like Christ in near perfect sinlessness, ideally, so that the kingdom of God would break fully into human life, hence transforming individuals, families and society as a whole.
Methodism took off in Britain like wildlife. It made such a difference in the country, in fact that many historians have argued that the social changes brought about by the “Methodist Revolution” negated the potential for a violent political revolution such as the experienced in France. In that sense, the early Methodist movement could be seen as a real in breaking of God’s Kingdom on the earth!
The church after its 1907 renovation
In 1925, the congregation, along with the rest of Canada’s Methodoists, the Congregational Union and most of the Presbyterian Church in Canada entered a merger known as Church Union. Since then the congregation has been known as Collier Street United Church.
Many of the Collier’s current traditions were established in the mid-1900s. In 1959, a quarterly newsletter called The Link began publication – it is still distributed by church elders ahead of quaterly Communion services. In 1960, midweek worship service began through the session of Lent – service which are still enjoyed by the community to this day.
Collier Place after the 1986 renovations
After the period of 1970s and early 1980s, another massive building project and renovation was undertaken. The old Sunday school wing was demolished and the current office. classroom and meeting spaces that sit between the 1864 sanctuary and the Church Hall were completed in 1986. Connected to the church building at the rear was Collier Place, an apartment tower that continues to provide quality geared to-income housing for seniors and adults with disabilities.
Collier Street continues to be a vibrant and diverse congregation with many active members at all ages and stages of life. Yet, we will need continual renewal in our midst of the zeal for serving God that motivated Wesley and the early Methodists. They knew rightly that God calls us into existence not to serve ourselves but to reach out beyond our walls and share the good news of Jesus with our community and society, the God’s Kingdom might truely exist in our midst. By grace, God has been at work among the people of this congregation for over 175 years. May such grace continue to be evident at Collier for another 175 years to come.