Union United Church, originally Union Congregational Church, was founded in 1907 by members of the Coloured Women’s Club of Montreal and other Blacks from the United States of America. They wished to participate fully in worship services and live Christian lives in a style relevant to their community values.
Under the spiritual leadership of Rev. Charles Este for forty-three years, the church became the hub of Black Montreal, developing social services and cultural spaces as well as programming for children. Over the years, the Union United Church congregation has been at the forefront in providing a safe haven for refugees, leading the boycott to help suppress apartheid in South Africa, and speaking out against systemic racism, particularly with respect to White privilege and power relationships with young Black men.
Union was the spiritual home to luminaries like Percy Rodrigues and Herb Trawick. Amongst the distinguished visitors and guest preachers welcomed over the years, Nelson Mandela thanked churches from the pulpit of Union United Church in 1990 for their contribution to the liberation of South African Blacks. Jazz greats Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones have close links to Union United Church.
Union United Church, the oldest Black church in Montreal at 116 years, continues to provide services for the community through a vibrant outreach program that includes prison ministry and food security services.