The Living Presence Ministry: Embracing New Possibilities for Ministry and Mission in East Gwillimbury 

The town of East Gwillimbury is poised to undergo a surge of growth and will soon witness the development of tens of thousands of new homes, businesses and services.

The United Church of Canada’s Living Waters Presbytery has embraced this growth as an opportunity and, with the active support of Toronto United Church Council’s Centre for Church Development and Leadership, has spearheaded the creation of the Living Presence Ministry. This ministry is developing a unique approach to mission by starting a new community (pioneer) ministry while simultaneously revitalizing the existing congregations in the area. This ‘both – and’ approach means working to find new ways of connecting with people who are not drawn to traditional church and helping the local congregations become as attractive and inviting as possible for those who might be looking for a spiritual home.

Living Waters Presbytery has committed 3 years of funding to this project (with a plan to eventually extend the funding commitment to ten years).  The hope is that this project will become a model for others throughout the country and beyond

Guided by a steering team made up of members drawn from each of the local congregations and each of the Living Waters Presbytery Commissions, the goal of this new ministry is to actively and visibly help people live healthy, meaningful, spirit-filled lives.


Toronto United Church Council (TUCC) is supporting the Living Presence Ministry in a variety of ways:

  • Council carried out a demographic study for Presbytery in 2014. The report was then shared with the congregations and leaders of the area through late 2014 and early 2015.
  • The Centre for Church Development proposed a plan for a new approach to ministry development that focuses both on strengthening the traditional congregations and planting a missional ministry within the new subdivision. This proposal became the Living Presence Ministry.
  • Currently Janet Marshall, Director of TUCC’s Centre for Church Development and Leadership (CCDL) and Ron Ewart, Executive Director of TUCC are facilitating and resourcing the Living Presence Ministry’s steering team and its sub-groups.
  • TUCC has made a major capital investment in the project through the purchase of a house on behalf of Presbytery in the new Queensville development. It will provide the accommodation and ‘work-base’ for the new Community (Pioneer) Minister.