St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church (Vancouver, B.C.)

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St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church (Vancouver, B.C.)

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St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church is a congregation of the United Church of Canada, a denomination formed in 1925 by the union of Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregational and Local Union Churches. As the name implies, it is the successor of two congregations, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian and Wesley Methodist.
Methodist services began in Vancouver as early as 1864, when Methodist missionaries recorded as arriving in the Vancouver area in 1859. A parsonage and church was built on Water St. in 1875. A fire destroyed this church in 1886 and temporary services were held in a hall on the site of the former church. In 1887, the congregation divided into two: Princess Street and Homer Street. By 1901, it was clear that the membership had outgrown the Homer Street church and a new foundation was laid at the corner of Georgia and Burrard Streets, with the new church to be known as Wesley Methodist. Completed and dedicated by the end of 1901, Wesley Methodist is regarded as the lineal descendent of the first Methodist Church on Water Street, and the mother of many of the Methodist Churches that later sprang up in Vancouver. A Presbyterian congregation was organized in a community schoolhouse in the 1870s. First Presbyterian Church was erected on Cordova Street but was destroyed in the 1886 fire. The congregation then moved to a larger centre on the corner of Gore and Hastings Streets in 1892. The building was enlarged and re-dedicated in 1906 and after 1932 became the home of First United Church. St. Andrew’s was also mother to a number of new Presbyterian Churches in Vancouver.
First Congregational Church held its first service on April 28, 1888 in Wilson Hall on the southwest corner of Cordova and Abbott streets. The congregation was officially organized on June 17, 1888. It secured property on the corner of Richards and Georgia streets, with the new church officially opening on December 8, 1889. The congregation split away to form Central Congregational Church over the issue of pacifism, but returned to First Congregational Church in 1903. Property was purchased at the corner of Thurlow and Pendrall Streets and a new church building was opened on November 9, 1912. In 1925, First Congregational Church became a congregation of the United Church of Canada and First Congregational was amalgamated with St. John’s United Church. The First Congregational Church building was given to the continuing Presbyterian Church.
On June 10, 1925, the union of the United Church of Canada was celebrated at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Georgia and Richards, with both St. Andrew’s Presbyterian and Wesley Methodist joining union. Following church union, a joint committee of St. Andrew’s United and Wesley United Churches, along with representatives of St. John’s United Church (which included the members of First Congregational Church who had also chosen to enter union) to consider amalgamation of the churches serving the west side of Vancouver. St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church came into being as the voted union of Wesley United and St. Andrew’s United Church in June 1927.
The first services of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church were held on September 7, 1930, with morning services in St. Andrew’s church and evening services in the Wesley church, a procedure followed until December 4, 1932 (The Wesley property was sold in 1928, though it remained in use until 1933). The sale enabled the congregation to purchase a site on Burrard and Nelson streets. The “Cathedral Church of the United Church in B.C.”, St. Andrew’s-Wesley’s new building was opened on May 26, 1933, with Rev. Dr. Willard Brewing as first minister of the united congregation.
From 1976-1981, after a fire destroyed the St. John’s United Church building, St. John’s United became part of a two-point St. Andrew’s-Wesley-St. John’s pastoral charge, but the two congregations did not amalgamate. In 1981, with a new church building, St. John’s United again became an independent pastoral charge and St. Andrew’s-Wesley continued on as one of the formative congregations of the United Church in Vancouver.


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United Church of Canada British Columbia Conference Archives

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Revised November 19, 2013


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