About SSUC*

About SSUC

Sydenham Street United Church is an historic downtown congregation affiliated with The United Church of Canada. Parts of our building date back to 1852. We invite you to join us on your spiritual journey. Here you will find that spiritual life, music, the arts, social justice and outreach are high priorities. We are committed to creating a just community which welcomes people regardless of age, race, gender identity, sexual identity, ethnic origin, economic circumstance, ability and challenges. If you are in our vicinity, come and worship with us — you will be warmly welcomed!

In January 2018 we evolved to a shared resources arrangement with Chalmers United Church. We share staff: Minister, Minister of Music, Operations Manager, and Office Administrator. Worship services alternate between the two sites on a monthly basis.

We seek to be a vital faith community within The United Church of Canada

engaged in spirituality, justice and creativity,
informed by Jesus Christ and the Bible,
and discerning the call of the Trinity
as we celebrate diversity, inclusivity and abundant life.

In this endeavour, we are committed to

  • Deepening our spiritual relatedness and honouring the worth of each individual by extending hospitality and pastoral care, and sharing relevant and meaningful worship, spiritual practices, and small group ministry.
  • Broadening our outreach/social justice through existing programs, advocacy and new initiatives to address local, national and global needs; and to welcoming the use of our space by those involved in outreach/social justice seeking to live lives of compassion and peace.
  • Being nurtured by the arts within the congregation and wider community by encouraging use of our facilities by those engaged in any and all artistic endeavours.

Annual Report

The Annual Report provides the latest description of the activities of the congregation   You can view or download it here.

Developing a Path Forward

In late 2015, with the impending retirement of our Minister Rev. Elizabeth Macdonald, a Joint Needs Assessment Committee (JNAC) was set up to plan for the future. Its report, issued in May 2016, gives a picture of the congregation, history, mission, organization, and trends from the perspective of 2016.  As a result, an interim Minister, Rev. Rienk Vlietstra, was hired for a year.

In an effort to make more efficient use of available resources, a joint Chalmers-Sydenhamstreet study group was set up to explore the sharing of resources between the two congregations. The report was issued in May 2017, and recommended that “Chalmers United Church and Sydenham Street United Church implement a model of shared ministry/staffing for the two congregations, with the aim of having a full joint ministry/staffing team in place by June 30, 2018 at the latest”.

That was followed by a joint Chalmers-Sydenhamstreet JNAC which reported in September 2017.  The recommendations included a plan for joint services and requested that “Four Winds Presbytery to declare a vacancy for an ordered, fulltime ministry personnel effective January 1, 2018”. A search for a new Minister was initiated.

A joint Worship Committee was set up to develop a shared worship services plan, and recommended joint services to alternate on a monthly basis between the two locations, starting in January 2018.

 Halo Report

The social, spiritual and communal value of congregations like SSUC has long been accepted. The economic value of these congregations to their surrounding neighbourhoods is a different matter entirely. What is the economic value of SSUC?  This report  attempts to answer that question.

The Spire information session, February 17, 2019

At request of our interim minister Rev. Barry King and based on questions raised about who “The Spire” is and how it relates to Sydenham Street United Church (SSUC) and Chalmers United Church (Chalmers), I was asked to make a presentation to both congregations at SSUC on February 17, 2019 after the worship service. Because some people could not attend, I was asked to record the session for review by people not present. Thanks to Don Robinson, his cell phone and computer magic, Don has prepared a video that shows the slides in synch with the talk I gave.  There are about 30 minutes of formal presentation and about 30 minutes of answering questions. You can view it at https://1drv.ms/v/s!AuHm3aKUqa53-2gXuMQKhcVeskmv

If you don’t have an hour of time available to watch the presentation:

The short version of the relationship between Friends of The Spire Inc. (FOS) and SSUC is that a Memorandum of Understanding has been established which defines the relationship between the two organizations. Basically, FOS raises funds for capital and maintenance improvements, promotes use of the building and organizes events consistent with its charitable status and the organization’s objectives. In return, FOS names three out of seven people who serve on the Business Management Group, a team that manages the income and expenses of the building operations. For community use, the building is known as The Spire.

The short version of the relationship between Friends of The Spire Inc. and Chalmers is that, at present and for the foreseeable future, there is none. The relationship between Chalmers and The Spire (the building) is that joint worship services are held at SSUC/The Spire on alternate months.

Bruce Hutchinson


Contact Information

Minister: We are in the process of selecting an interim Minister
Office Administrator: Carol Sleeth
Operations Manager: Donald Mitchell
Custodian: Justin Sowik, Lisa Leavitt


Chair of the Congregation:  Jack Soule
Chair of Engaging the Spirit:  Lyn Freeman
Co-Chairs of Art and Soul:  Barb Carr, Ellie Deir
Chair of Social Justice and Outreach:  Michael Purcell
Treasurer: Kirby Ruthven