Helping churches on the EDGE

Unique United Church program pulls congregations back from the brink

United Church officials predict hundreds of congregations across the country will be forced to sell or redevelop their properties in the next decade.

It’s no wonder EDGE is in high demand.

Launched in 2011, the United Church of Canada program works with congregations and church leaders to understand and embrace change and come up with creative solutions to help them become sustainable.

“We don’t own the expertise,” says executive director Rob Dalgleish. “But we build relationships with developers, real estate people, architects, who we can trust will take into account and hold as primary the mandate and mission of the individual congregation.

“We curate those relationships in a way,” he adds.

Over the last four years EDGE has worked with more than 500 congregations coast to coast, including the Hamilton presbytery. It’s now also working with Centenary and St. Giles as the two downtown churches adapt to their recent amalgamation.

According to Dalgleish, the program is frequently called in to consult on housing projects and procurements. There’s also a focus on creating community hubs.

The churches, meanwhile, often partner with a variety of agencies and faith groups on the projects, which range from children’s play rooms to major condominium developments.

“The more we do, the more the demand seems to accelerate,” he says. “In that sense, it’s a very exciting, growing edge of the church.”