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Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)
relating to the possibility of an
Amalgamation between St Stephen and Tansley United Churches in Burlington ON



An offer was extended by the Tansley Board, on your (Tansley Congregation’s) behalf, to St Stephen board to begin talks that would support them as they made decisions regarding their future. The talks that began in January with a small group from each congregation was open to the possibility of amalgamation but that was not the express purpose behind the talks.  As meetings progressed though, it became apparent that there were many commonalities between the two congregations, which then led to a larger group meeting on April 28. 

The decision has already been made, that as of June 2019, St. Stephen will be closing their doors at their present location.

St. Stephen set themselves a firm deadline of June 3, 2018 to decide where their future lies.  To this end a congregational meeting was held on June 3 to determine if they would like to move forward with talks with the intent to amalgamate with Tansley or move in a different direction.  The vote was in favour of pursuing amalgamation.  We, at Tansley, also need to have a congregational meeting to confirm that the majority are in favour of this. 

ON Sunday, June 17, 2018 the following motion was considered by those in attendance at Tansley United Church and was passed by a vote of 63 in favour and 4 opposed.

The same motion had been considered by St. Stephen UC on June 3, 2018 and passed by a vote of 36 in favour, 10 opposed and 2 abstentions.

“That Tansley United Church enter into formal discussions with St. Stephen United Church for the purpose of amalgamating our congregations.   A joint amalgamation team with an equal number of members from St. Stephen and Tansley to be enacted within 1 month (by July 17, 2018). The task of this team is to perform due diligence to give each congregation all required facts in order to make a final amalgamation decision by congregational vote, post July 17, 2018.  If all parties are in agreement at that time, then the amalgamation will be scheduled to occur on or before June 30, 2019.”


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS from the June 17/18 Congregational meeting:


1.            Q.          Will we amalgamate for just a short time?

     A.            If we amalgamate it will be an ongoing/permanent arrangement.


2.            Q.         What is the cost of amalgamation?

      A.          We don’t know yet. This is one of the factors to be considered by the joint amalgamation team.


3.            Q.         How many members does St Stephen have?

     A.           We don’t know the exact number of members at St. Stephen. This too will be identified in the work of the joint amalgamation team. We have been told that an average of 40-45 people worship at St Stephen each week. 


4.            Q.        Does St Stephen vote on this also?

      A.        St Stephen voted in favor of this motion on June 3/18.  48 people cast votes: 36 in favour, 10    opposed and 2 people abstained from voting.


5.            Q.       What will be the impact on paid staff?

      A.       We don’t know yet.


6.            Q.       If we amalgamate what happens to paid staff?

      A.       We are unsure right now.  Further steps need to be considered.  General Council meets next month and will be voting on 8 Remits (information has been made available to the congregation on Remits as it has been received from the United Church of Canada (UCC)).  If the Remits are accepted there will be changes to the structure, policies, procedures and practices of the UCC.


7.            Q.        Why are we going through amalgamation with St Stephen since they are closing?

      A.        St Stephen is not closing.  Their property has been sold and their building is being torn down. The congregation needs to vacate their existing space by June 30/19.   If St Stephen were to close/cease to be a congregation, all their assets would go to the UCC.  If they amalgamate or find space elsewhere to worship they will maintain their assets.


8.          Q.         Will the name of our church change?

     A.        We may see a variety of changes to Tansley as we know it. A name change is one possibility. If we amalgamate we are creating a new congregation.

During the next step the joint amalgamation team, made up of members from Tansley and St Stephen will discuss what is important to both congregations.  There will be compromise on items that can be agreed upon.  The team will discover whether there are any items on which compromise may not be possible.  The team’s findings will be brought back to both congregations before their recommendation to amalgamate (or not) is voted on individually by each congregation.


9.            Q.       Is a Joint Needs Assessment Committee (JNAC) compulsory or our choice?

      A.       If the recommendation is that Tansley and St Stephen amalgamate, and that recommendation is accepted by both congregations, it is likely that a JNAC would be required as this would be a second amalgamation for Tansley within 2 years. Some of the tasks of a JNAC are to determine the needs of the congregation (outreach, youth, adult studies, worship)  develop a position description to meet those needs and recommend the level of staffing that would be required: -  whether we need one minister, one and half etc.


10.          Q.        Why did we not have one when Nelson joined?

      A.        Nelson and Tansley amalgamated July 1, 2018. We were not required by Presbytery to have a JNAC at that time for a number of reasons. Primarily there was no job loss for clergy. Rev Daryl Weber remained as minister at Lowville, the office administrator also retained her position at Lowville. Music leadership had been provided on a contract basis. The increase in membership did not impact the terms of Rev. Huntley’s call.


11.          Q.         Could we make a friendly amendment to the wording of the motion and change the word “amalgamation”?

               A.         Amalgamation is the word UCC uses in these situations so we must use this word. This is also the same motion on which St Stephen voted on June 3 and consistency is necessary.


12.          Q.         When would the amalgamation take place?

     A.          We are only voting today to decide if talks will commence to discuss possible amalgamation.  We are not voting on amalgamation today.  This is only a 1st step to identify areas of agreement and areas not in agreement. It is possible that the recommendation of the joint amalgamation team will be made early in the fall. A vote on their recommendation would take place at that time. If the vote occurs prior to December 31, 2018, only those who are members of Tansley UC (or St Stephen respectively) may participate in that vote, as per The Manual 2016 The United Church of Canada.


13.          Q.          Is there a way we can provide the working group with questions and input for consideration?

      A.         Yes there will be a way for you to have input in the questions that are part of the discussion.  The wish is to keep congregations included.


14.          Q.          Who will be the team?

      A.           Tansley’s representatives to the joint amalgamation team will be: Mark Goodale, May Turner and Dale Martin. Paul Bartu, Heather McGavin and Dave Shilton will represent St. Stephen.


15.          Q.          Is St Stephen speaking with any other churches?

      A.          No. St Stephen was approached by another UC in Burlington about possible amalgamation. St. Stephen has communicated with that congregation that they will not pursue amalgamation with them. St Stephen did have a “Relocation Committee” looking at other options. The work of that committee has been suspended so that the work of a joint amalgamation committee could proceed Should Tansley vote against formal discussions with St Stephen, and or amalgamation, then St Stephen would resume looking for other feasible solutions.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS provided to the Tansley Congregation in advance of the June 17/18 vote:

1.            Q.        Do I need to be present to vote?

     A.         Yes. A quorum (minimum of 20 people) is required and only those present may vote. Proxy votes are not permitted. Please make every effort to be present for this meeting. It is important to the life and work of this congregation.


2.            Q.       Why are we voting about this now?

     A.        The congregation of St. Stephen United Church voted “YES” to this plan on June 3, 2018 and in order to move forward the Tansley congregation needs to consider and vote on the same question and give them our answer in a timely manner.


3.            Q.       What are the next steps if we vote “NO”?

     A.       We will not move forward in conversations towards amalgamation with St Stephen United Church.


4.            Q.        What are the next steps if we vote “YES”?

     A.         As outlined in the motion an initial joint amalgamation team will be formed and will have a first meeting on or before July 17, 2018. The team will have an equal number of members from St. Stephen and Tansley. The team’s task is to perform due diligence so that each congregation has all the information needed to make a final decision on amalgamation.


5.            Q.        How long will the initial amalgamation team take to perform due diligence?

      A.       It is expected that the team will complete this task within 2-3 months.


6.            Q.        If we vote “YES” on June 17, 2018 are we amalgamating with St Stephen on June 30, 2019?

      A.         The vote on June 17, 2018 is to initiate formal discussion with the intent to amalgamate.  After the initial joint amalgamation team completes its work and if it makes its recommendation to amalgamate the congregations of St Stephen and Tansley will individually, but on the same date, vote on the recommendation.


7.            Q.          When would this second vote take place?

       A.         It is anticipated to take place in the fall.  Following this second vote another team would be struck to work through the details of amalgamation. 


8.            Q.         How will the vote be conducted?

      A.        While the Manual for the United Church of Canada outlines that votes may happen by show of hands, a written ballot will be used on June 17. The results will be tabulated and announced during the meeting. . The wording of the motion will be on the ballot allowing people to refer to it as they consider their options: “In Favour” “Opposed” “Abstention”.


9.            Q.           Usually the minister is present at congregational meetings and Rev. Huntley will be on sabbatical. Can we have a meeting and vote without him being present?

      A.          A member of ordered ministry is to be in attendance for such a vote. Through the

Executive of Halton Presbytery and the Pastoral Relations Committee of Presbytery permission has been given for a member of Pastoral Relations to represent Presbytery at this meeting.