Introduction and History of Parkdale and Its Governance

A. Parkdale's Historical Background

Parkdale United Church enjoys a rich history as a center of biblical and spiritual teaching and learning that dates back to 1931, when it was founded through a merger of two existing congregations – a Presbyterian and a Methodist. However, our roots as a pioneering family of faith can be traced even further, back to 1889, when a small group of Presbyterians in the community of Hintonburg (which was subsequently annexed to the city of Ottawa in 1907), established a mission and erected a small worship building on what is now the southwest corner of Parkdale Avenue and Wellington Street in Ottawa’s central west end. Our existing church structure remains at that same location. A tradition of powerful preaching, meaningful music, and a solid program of pastoral care are hallmarks of our Church.

B. History of Governance at Parkdale

For many years, Parkdale’s governance structure consisted of an Official Board and Session. This structure evolved with very little change from when it was first approved by the congregation in 1971. Although this administrative model generally served well, in the late 2000s there were increasing concerns regarding the efficiency, adaptability and flexibility of this model. Too much time was being spent in meetings, there was frequent overlap and duplication, and new ideas and fresh initiatives were being stifled. Parkdale’s governance model was reviewed and, in October 2009, the Congregation formally approved a new Council governance structure. A document entitled Parkdale United Church, Our Council System of Governance, Terms of Reference (October 2009) was developed to outline this new governance structure. In 2012, following three years of working within the new governance model, Council undertook a process to review its administrative structure and to formalize this within a Constitution which would replace the previous document.

C. Structure and Functions of the Church Council at Parkdale

The Council serves a variety of purposes within the Church. It is the Church’s governing and decision making body. It is concerned with the spiritual well-being of the Congregation. Thus, Council members are also called “Elders”. Through its work and those of its various committees, the Council is also involved in the financial management of the Church, the maintenance of the building and the employment of our permanent and contract staff. The Council participates in planning and visioning, and in coordinating the various ministries of the Church. It is the Council that has the authority to approve initiatives and decisions within the Church. Council is comprised of about 25 individuals. The membership currently consists of:

  • Ministry Staff (3)
  • Chair, Vice-Chair, Past-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer (5)
  • Committee Chairs (11)
  • Members-at-Large (2)
  • Presbytery Representatives (2-4)

With the exception of the Ministry Staff, Council members are elected for two year terms at the Annual General Meeting which is held in February of each year. Members are eligible for reelection. All members of the Congregation are eligible to vote at this meeting and to be considered for a position on the Council.

D. Constitution Organization and Content

Parkdale’s Constitution is organized into four sections:

Section 1 is the general Terms of Reference for the Council. This outlines the Council’s purpose, its Duties and Responsibilities, its membership and how these members are selected, regulations regarding meetings and processes for amending the Constitution.

Section 2 provides details regarding the general responsibilities of Council members as well as the specific responsibilities of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Past-Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Representatives to Presbytery, Committee Chairs and Members-at-Large.

Section 3 outlines the Terms of Reference for each of the 11 Committees of Council. Section 4 contains six appendices.