Union is a key part of the fabric of Montreal society and members of the community have come to depend on us for much needed advocacy in terms of housing and social justice as well as the support services to help alleviate poverty and hunger, to improve the quality of life of our seniors and to educate and equip our youth for the future.
Union Church has provided many self-improvement services to the infirm and aging population. Through such committees as the United Church Women, the Pioneer Club and Men’s Fellowship group, Union assures that its congregation members are provided with every support available in the community, and promotes unity within its own borders by the strong programs of the Heritage Committee (the brainchild of Rev. Dr. Leicester Bigby) which sponsors Kwanzaa, a Cultural food-fair and film night during February Black History Month as well as a week of cultural activities in June.
Union has never operated in isolation. Over the decades we have partnered with other organizations in the city to seek solutions for disenchanted youth, young adults, and to those underachieving or underemployed in the labour force. Union reaches out to immigrants and refugees sometimes taking a bold stand against unjust decisions. Within the past few years Union United Church has been one of the leading churches within the United Church of Canada to take a stand on the deportation of refugees by sheltering several families in sanctuary (Reverend Darryl Gray).
Our cultural reach has been significant as well. During the tenure of Rev. Frank Gabourel and Rev. Dr. Leicester Bigby, the music ministry grew from one chancel choir to choirs for all tastes—today there is a Chancel Choir, UUC Gospel Choir, Men’s Gospel Choir and Youth Choir who alternate singing for Sunday Services. Throughout the year, other choirs spring up (Women’s for Mother’s Day and Silver Threads for Pioneer Sunday). Union Church lives by the credo to “make a joyful noise.” Union is the bedrock of both gospel and jazz in Montreal. Under the direction of Dr. Trevor Payne Union Church developed the Montreal Jubilation Choir. Today the Montreal Jubilation Choir is now a world-renowned, first class, musical legacy of the Church.
The choirs have been just one facet of Union’s musical initiatives. Union Church proudly remembers how jazz legends Oscar Peterson and Dr. Oliver Jones were nurtured and developed within Union’s walls. Both families were long-time members of the Church. In fact, Dr. Jones was 5 years old when he played for his first live audience -- the Union United Church congregation.
The nationally recognized Black Theatre Workshop is a contemporary troupe whose artistic roots were cultivated in the Montreal community, and who, each year in January, share an ethnic theatrical experience with Union United Church by joining in the commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Union is alive and welcomes community throughout the year. We have winter holiday services, spring tea, summers picnics and our fall services of thanksgiving. The rhythm of Union’s liturgical calendar intertwines with the cultural pulse of Montreal. The Church is both a beacon of light and a joyful advocate of God’s mercy and justice on earth.