Our History

Our Logo Explained

In the Fall of 2017, Edith Rankin Memorial United Church Council of Elders commissioned a working group to look at ...

Our church roots have been planted deep in this community for over two centuries. The Wesleyan Methodists instituted a circuit rider preacher around the north-east shores of Lake Ontario in 1790. Collins Bay (Collinsby originally) was one of the eleven communities served.

In 1864 the Canada Methodists united with the British Wesleyans under the name the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and in 1872 its members erected the red brick building which still stands on Hillview Road. Gradually the 11 preaching stations on the circuit decreased until, in 1912, Collins Bay was one of three “points”: Collins Bay, Cataraqui, Hillview Churchand Westbrook.

Stewart Renfrew has written three essays on the predecessor to our sanctuary.

In 1919, six years before church union, the Methodists and Presbyterians united to form one congregation, worshipping in the church on Hillview Road. The Bill for Church Union in 1925 was sponsored in the Ontario Legislature by Anthony Rankin, M.L.A. for Frontenac-Addington, and a staunch pillar in the church. The Rankins were wealthy linen merchants who emigrated from Ireland to Collins Bay in the mid 1800’s to establish several grist and carding mills. The family was responsible for building the three beautiful old stone houses across the road and west of our Church.

After church union, the church on Hillview Road became known as Collins Bay United Church. The original church sign, pulpit, and three chairs from the old church are on display in the narthex.

A RECORD OF OUR MINISTERS: 1958 to the present

The Rev. Barry Armstrong

In the forties and fifties, the population in Collins Bay grew, and in 1958 the charge became a single point and called the Rev. J.G. (Barry) Armstrong. A manse was built nearby on Bath Road.

In 1956, David Rankin, son of Anthony Rankin, generously offered his waterfront property for a new church with the request that the church be named “Edith Rankin Memorial” in memory of his cousin Edith Rankin (1900 – 1940). She had been killed in a car / train accident at Garden City, Long Island, just weeks before her wedding.

The cornerstone for Edith Rankin Memorial United Church was laid October 11, 1959 and the congregation of Collins Bay United Church moved into their new church on Sunday, January 17, 1960.




GLASS smallTrowel


The trowel used in the construction was donated by the builder and is also on display in the narthex. On the January 2003 anniversary, four of the original windows from the Hillsview Church were dedicated. They hang on our current clear-glass windows on the south side of the sanctuary – a beautiful as well as historic addition.




The Rev. Ray Milley

When the Rev. Ray Milley became our minister in 1963, a larger manse was needed, so 701 Truman Drive in Hillview was purchased. This was a time of growth as the community expanded around Collins Bay. Reah was his much loved spouse and stalwart in the church. Both were welcomed back by the congregation upon his retirement in the late 1980s.




The Rev. Dr. Albert Burnside

When the Rev. Dr. Albert Burnside began his ministry with us in 1974, he and his wife lived in the Simcoe Apartments in the city and so the manse on Truman Drive was sold. In 1978 the old church property on Hillview Road was sold; and in 1983 the congregation purchased the Byrne property east of the church to allow for additional parking. The growth of the Sunday School was remarkable, so much so that classrooms were rented from the school across the road, a source of great angst amongst the parents and congregants. Clearly, an expansion was require.

The Rev. Ian Mackay

Rev. Mackay arrived in 1983 and was the minister on Nov. 23, 1986 when the cornerstone was laid for an expanded sanctuary and a new wing adjoining the west end of the building. This addition was called Clark Hall, named after Harriett and Harold Clark, loyal church members and relatives of the Rankins.


Church at sod turning 1986small
Sod turning for addition of Clark Hall 1986

The church continued to grow as the new millennium neared, and soon a part-time Staff Associate, Sharon Van Nest, as well as a Youth Associate, Lori Servage, were added to the Church Staff. Ian accepted a call to St. Lambert’s in 1993 and the Rev. Dr. Wayne Soble served as an Interim Minister from January to June, 1994, prior to the arrival of our next minister.

The Rev. Dr. Paul Currie

the Rev. Dr Paul G CurrieRev. Currie was senior minister from July 1994 to 2001, leading us into the 21st century. The Rev. Maggie Coleman and the Rev. Beverley Burlock each served as associate ministers during Dr. Currie’s tenure. The Rev. Dr. Currie left for a call in Peterborough Dec. 31 2001.



The Rev. Mark Fleming

Beginning the first of January 2002, the Rev. Mark Fleming, known as “Mark, the Spark” was appointed as our full-time Supply Minister until a Transition minister could be brought on staff. However, this proved difficult since there were very few Intentional Interim Ministers available. The solution found was to continue the Rev. Mark Fleming’s term to 30 June 2004 and to appoint the Rev. George Lavery, a qualified Intentional Interim Minister for half-time from 1 January 2003 to 30 June 2004.

The Rev. George Lavery

God truly blessed this congregation in bringing together this team ministry to serve our needs and lead us forward.

In the Spring of 2003, the congregation formed a Joint Needs Assessment Committee and subsequently a Joint Search Committee. The result was a call issued to the Rev. Dr. Wayne Soble, one and the same who had served as our Interim Minister in 1994.


The Rev. Dr. Wayne Soble and The Rev. Micheline Montreuil

Dr. Soble arrived August 2004, and a second call was issued to the Rev. Micheline Montreuil. When Rev. Montreuil joined us in September, the new leadership team was in place to offer their gifts as we continued to further our goals of serving God, our neighbours and one another in faithful ways. In December 2011, she was called to a pastorate in Northern Frontenac County,  leaving a vacancy for a 2nd minister.

The Rev. Dr. Jean Stairs, teamed with Dr. Soble

The Rev. Dr. Jean Stairs, wife of our then minister Wayne, was called 1st August, 2012. She had retired a year earlier as Principal of Queen’s Theological College and was available, following her year on sabbatical.  Wayne’s role was defined as Minister of Worship, Pastoral Care and Administration; Jean’s role was defined as Minister of Education, Outreach and Pastoral Care. Wayne is remembered not only for his preaching but also his seminar series on the bible. Jean lead the Sunday School into different directions, including Thank God Its Friday evenings (monthly) with children and parents and a major initiative in leading the sponsorship team which brought a Syrian family to Kingston and maintained them for a year.

During Wayne and Jean’s tenure, the church decided that an addition was again required and, after an in depth process lasting several years, the needs of the community and the congregation were prioritized and the building plans were finalized to meet those needs. The construction was completed in the summer of 2016. In June 2019, both Wayne and Jean retired from active ministry.

Rev. Dr. Bill Smith                                                          Rev. Joe Ramsay

Bill and Joe formed an interim team ministry beginning the late summer of 2019. Together they moved the congregation forward as it sought a called ministry. After much discussion the Search and Selection Committee was directed to recommend a single full-time minister with a commitment to review the workload and functioning of the congregation after a 6-month period to analyze what, if any, additional assistance was required. Elizabeth Amirault continued as Minister of Pastoral Care.

In mid-March, 2020, COVID-19 hit the church as it hit the world, locking down all business and social activities to stop the spread of this pandemic. Very quickly, Rev. Joe Ramsay led the congregation into videoconferencing Sunday morning services, using RingCentral (ZOOM). A team of technical volunteers stepped to assist Joe and Bill and our organist, Kim Barney, to produce these services with increasing quality. The “attendance” at our services grew to an average of sites every Sunday (probable  120 persons or more).  In addition, a social open-line RingCentral meeting was held every Wednesday, allowing members and adherents to keep in touch with each other. This is our current situation (May 2021).


The Rev. Michelle Down

On 1 June 2020, by videoconferencing at a Congregational Meeting, the Search and Selection Committee, endorsed by Council, presented Rev. Michelle Down as their candidate for the call. This was accepted unanimously and she was issued a call for 1 September 2020.

Weekly worship, with its careful blend of both traditional and contemporary expression, is the heartbeat of our gathered life. Relevant preaching, excellent music and lay participation from all ages maintain a high level of attendance and participation.

It is good to be God’s people in this place.


The Church in Canada
1874 Quebec Diocese of the Church of England appoints a committee to promote church union.
1875 Union of four sections of Presbyterianism into The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
1884 Union of four sections of Methodism into The Methodist Church.
1885 A proposal for discussion on church union in Canada originates from the Church of England (Anglican) with a conference on the subject held in 1886.
1902 Formal union discussions begin among Congregational. Methodist and Presbyterian churches.
1904-1908 Representatives of uniting churches work on Basis of Union.
1906 Several Congregational Churches form the Congregational Union of Canada.
1912 Joint theological education begins among Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists in Montreal.
1914 World War I begins and union efforts subside.
1921 Canadian School of Missions begins (later the Ecumenical Forum) with the purpose to train people for overseas missions (Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, and later, Baptists).
1925 On June 10, in the Mutual St. Arena in Toronto, The United Church of Canada is formed by a union of Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregational and the Council of Local Union churches.
1925-1929 Congregations, colleges and offices of the uniting churches merge.
1926-1928 2nd General Council, Montreal, Quebec, Moderator: Right Reverend James Endicott.
1928-1930 3rd General Council, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Moderator: Right Reverend William T. Gunn.
1929 The Depression begins.
1930’s Youth work develops with many different programs: Canadian Girls in Training which had begun in 1915: Trail Rangers for boys 12 to 14 and Tuxis Boys for 15 and up and Older Boys Parliament.
1930-1932 4th General Council. London, Ontario. Moderator: Right Reverend Edmund H. Oliver.
1930 Union with the Synod of The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bermuda made it a Presbytery of Maritime Conference.
1932-1934 5th General Council, Hamilton, Ontario. Moderator: Right Reverend T. Albert Moore.
1934 Fellowship for a Christian Social Order (FCSO) is founded in Kingston, Ontario as a “an association of Christians whose religious convictions [had] led them to the belief that the capitalist economic system is fundamentally at variance with Christian principles; and who regard the creation of a new social order to be essential to the realization of the Kingdom of God.”
1934-1936 6th General Council, Kingston, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Richard Roberts.
1935 “On this its Tenth Anniversary, The United Church of Canada reaffirms before the world its faith in the ideals and principles which brought it into being. In the light of ten years’ experience it has found these ideals to be eminently practicable in their out-working, and in the quest of them its members have found an enriched and deepened fellowship, human and divine. In a renewed conviction of the worth of inclusive Christian fellowship, The United Church of Canada enters its second decade, prepared, as the opportunity may offer and as God may direct, to seek with other Christian communions further development of its ideals, whether by increased co-operation, organic union, or otherwise, and so fulfill its purpose of being not merely a united, but a uniting church.”
1936-1938 7th General Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Peter Bryce.
1936 – 7th General Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Peter Bryce.
– Closed shop denied at United Church Publishing House (again in 1938).
– Ordination of the first woman minister in the United Church, the Rev. Lydia Gruchy.
– Baptists adopt United Church Hymnary with some revisions.
– Conversations take place among United, Anglican, Presbyterian about a “recovery of fellowship.”
1937 Baptists appoint a representative to United Church Publishing House to consult on Christian Education materials.
1938-1940 – 8th General Council. Toronto. Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend John W. Woodside.
– General Council affirms rights of conscience in war.
1939 – World War II begins.
– United Church engages in chaplaincy effort.
– 65 United Church clergy sign a “Witness Against War” outlining their pacifist views.
1940-1942 9th General Council, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Moderator: Rev Aubrey S. Tuttle.
1940 – A Statement of Faith is published. By 195O, 75,000 copies are sold.
– Church retires depression debt with war loan. “A loan to your country and a gift to your church.”
1942-1944 10th General Council, Belleville, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend James R. P. Sclater.
1942 United Church resists pressure to support conscription.
1943 Anglicans in Canada mark their jubilee by inviting other denominations to union conversations. The United Church responds with willingness.
1944-1946 – 11th General Council, London, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Jesse H. Arnup.
– A commission is appointed on the Christian Marriage and Christian Home.
1944 – The Catechism is published.
– The United Church Publishing House is instructed to institute a closed shop.
– The Canadian Council of Churches is formed with the United Church a member.
1946-1948 12th General Council, Montreal, Quebec, Moderator: Right Reverend Thomas W. Jones.
1946 12th General Council, Montreal, Quebec, Moderator: Right Reverend Thomas W. Jones.
1948-1950 13th General Council. Vancouver, British Columbia. Moderator: Right Reverend Willard E. Brewing.
1948 – World Council of Churches is formed with the United Church a member.
– Church residential schools begin to close.
1950-1952 14th General Council, Toronto, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Clarence M. Nicholson.
1950 Reaffirmation of the Tenth Anniversary Declaration on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Church Union.
1952-1954 15th General Council, Hamilton, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Alexander A. Scott.
– General Council supports medicare and makes a de facto recognition of People’s Republic of China.
– The decision is made to begin a New Curriculum.
1954-1956 16th General Council, Sackville, New Brunswick, Moderator: Right Reverend George Dorey.
1955-1965 Development of New Curriculum by the board of Christian Education (David Forsyth, Alvin Cooper, Frank Fidler) and the Board of Publication (Peter Gordon White, Wilbur K. Howard).
1956-1958 17th General Council, Windsor, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend James S. Thomson.
1958-1960 18th General Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Angus J. MacQueen.
– United Church queries the Anglican church on it’s wish to continue or withdraw its 1943 invitation; decision to continue.
1959 General Council Executive approves the New Curriculum theological and educational presuppositions in November.
1960-1962 – 19th General Council, Edmonton, Alberta, Moderator: Right Reverend Hugh A. McLeod.
– Council approves policy that abstinence from alcohol is the “wisest and safest course” but moderate usage is acknowledged, total abstinence not condition of membership.
– Rev. Arthur Packman works as ‘padre of the pubs’ in Toronto Rev. Gordon Winch follows.
– Growth In Understanding a joint Anglican-United study guide on union is published.
1962-1964 – 20th General Council, London, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend James R. Mutchmor.
– The New Curriculum publication program begins with Donald Mathers’ book for adults, The Word and the Way, becoming a bestseller.
1962 Woman’s Association and Woman’s Missionary Society join to form United Church Women.
1964 A plan of union is proposed jointly by London Conference and the Anglican Diocese of Huron.
1964-1966 – 21st General Council, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Moderator: Right Reverend Ernest M. Howse.
– Commission on Ministry in the 20th Century appointed in response to growing frustration from congregations, presbyteries and ministers about the role of ministry.
1965 – Principles of Union between the United Church and the Anglican Church are published.
– Pierre Berton’s book, The Comfortable Pew is published at the request of the Anglican Church of Canada.
– “Why The Sea Is Boiling Hot”, United Church symposium in response to Berton’s book is published.
1966-1968 22nd General Council, Waterloo, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Wilfred C. Lockhart.
1966 – General Council approves Plan of Union with the Canada Conference of The Evangelical United Brethren Church to be effective in 1968.
– The United Church Renewal Fellowship is founded.
– For the first time since union, United Church membership drops: a loss of 2,027 members is recorded this year.
1968 Rev. Ray Hord, secretary of Evangelism and Social Service, offers emergency aid to American Viet Nam draft dodgers; General Council Executive disassociates itself from the decision but within 2 years this became church policy.
1968-1971 23rd General Council, Kingston, Ontario, Moderator: Dr. Robert B. McClure.
1968 January 1: Union with the Evangelical United Brethren is formalized.
1969 The Service Book is published.
1971-1972 24th General Council. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Arthur B.B. Moore.
1971 – Plan of Union approved by joint commission (Anglican, United, Disciples of Christ).
– The Hymn Book, is jointly published by the United Church and the Anglican Church.
1972-1974 25th General Council, Saskatoon. Saskatchewan, Moderator: Right Reverend N. Bruce McLeod.
1974-1977 26th General Council, Guelph, Ontario, Moderator: Right Reverend Wilbur K. Howard.
– Task Force on Ministry concludes that there is one ministry, “the ministry of God himself, into which ministry he calls his whole church (the laity).”
1975 – Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility is founded, followed by the formation of the Conference of Church and Business People.
– Anglican House of Bishops and National Executive Council declare Plan of Union unacceptable.
– Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United churches agree to recognize validity of Christian baptism, in all of these traditions.
1977-1980 – 27th General Council, Calgary, Alberta, Moderator: Right Reverend George M. Tuttle.
– A further report on ministry shows increased inclusiveness of lay people in ministry.
1980-1982 – 28th General Council, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Moderator: Right Reverend Lois M. Wilson.
– After reviewing the latest study on ministry, Project: Ministry, a General Council Sessional Committee concluded: “As a church we are still on our journey toward a more complete understanding of ministry.”
1982-1984 29th General Council, Montreal, Quebec, Moderator: Right Reverend W. Clarke MacDonald.
1982 In Lima. Peru. theologians associated with the World Council of Churches issue a joint document of considerable faith consensus, Baptism Eucharist and Ministry and find agreement to celebrate Lord’s Supper together (the Lima Liturgy).
1984-1986 30th General Council, Morden, Manitoba, Moderator Rt.Rev. Robert F. Smith.
1985 Union talks between United Church and Disciples of Christ end.
1986-1988 31st General Council, Sudbury, Ontario, Moderator: Dr. Anne M. Squire.
– Council ends South African investments.
– Council apologizes to Native congregations of the United Church for past denial of native spirituality.
1988-1990 – 32nd General Council, Victoria, British Columbia, Moderator: Right Reverend Sang Chul Lee.
– The All Native Circle Conference is inaugurated.
– Council declares that “all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, who profess their faith in Jesus Christ are welcome to be or become members of The United Church of Canada” and that “all members of the United Church are eligible to be considered for ordered ministry.”
1990-1992 33rd General Council, London Ontario, marks 65 years of the United Church. Moderator: Right Reverend Walter H. Farquharson.
1992-1994 34th General Council, Fredericton, New Brunswick elects the Right Reverend Stan McKay, a native Canadian, as Moderator.
1994-1997 – 35th General Council, Fergus, Ontario celebrates Church Fair Day; Moderator: Dr. Marion Best.
– In August 1994, the United Church establishes The Healing Fund to help First Nations communities respond to the painful legacy of residential schools.
– In March 1995. the General Council Offices move from 85 St. Clair Avenue East to rented facilities at 3250 Bloor Street West.
– The Ethnic Ministries Council is officially inaugurated in June, 1996.
– A new hymn book Voices United is published in 1996.
1997-2000 36th General Council in Camrose, Alberta elects the Right Reverend Bill Phipps as Moderator.
– In October 1997 comments made by Bill Phipps in conversation with a newspaper editorial board spark a heated national debate over the divinity of Jesus.
– In October 1998, The United Church of Canada offers an apology to former students of United Church Indian Residential Schools.
2000 The United Church of Canada celebrates its 75th Anniversary.