The United Church is Canada's largest Protestant denomination. And it's uniquely Canadian.
It was inaugurated in 1925 at a large worship service in a Toronto arena and recognized by an act of Parliament.
It was founded by a merger of four Christian denominations: the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Methodist Church of Canada, the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec and the Association of Local Union Churches, a predominantly prairie-based movement.
Church union was planned and negotiated for more than 20 years. Canada was the first country in the world where Protestant churches chose to pool their resources and become one large Christian church.
Two-thirds of Canada's Presbyterians joined the new United Church and the other three churches joined as a whole.
United Church congregations range from moderately conservative to very liberal.
The church is one of the most socially progressive evangelical Protestant denominations in the world. It began ordaining female ministers in 1936. It takes a scholarly interpretive, rather than literal approach to the Bible. It has been progressive on education, medicare, minority rights and relations with the wider Christian Church and other faiths.
In the United Church, congregations conduct their affairs with a lot of autonomy. The church is governed by 91 local presbyteries, 13 regional conferences and the national General Council.
There are about 3,500 individual congregations in the church and 3,800 ordained ministers, about two-thirds of them men and one third women.
The spiritual head of the United Church is the Moderator, elected at General Councils by clergy and lay representatives from across Canada. The Moderator can be a man or woman, clergy or lay person.
About three million Canadians list the United Church as their religious affiliation; about 500,00 of them are listed as active members on church rolls today.