st. james family
serving since 1953 to the present
history of st. james
St. James United Church started in the boom years following the end of World War II. The Toronto Home Missions Council hired Rev. Dr. Meyers and Mrs. Mercer to visit people in the area. Soon a group of young families were gathering at Wedgewood Drive Public School in 1951, using the auditorium and a portion of the hallway for worship and Sunday School. On May 1, 1952 St. James Islington United Church was born with 218 members on the Charter roll. In later years “Islington” was dropped from the church name.
At the time of purchase, our present church site was 2.6 acres of market garden complete with a frame house and various out buildings. Construction began on the first phase of the building on April 1, 1954 and continued on and off until the final dedication service on November 30, 1969. By 1963, there were 900 children in Sunday School, along with women’s groups, a men’s club, couples’ club and study groups.
serving the community
Over the years St. James United Church has made significant contributions to the wider community. Some of the highlights include a pre-school daycare program in the 1960’s for children and special needs. The massive volunteer effort was the foreunner to the development of Seneca School located at 580 Rathburn road.
Since the inception, we have sponsored Scouting to
provide children with leadership training, social skills, camping experiences, opportunities to serve and role models.
Meals on Wheels was another program supported by St. James for over 20 years until the Red Cross took over the project in 1994.
At present, we serve our community by providing food and essential toiletries through our Food Basket program on Wednesday afternoons. We continue to house the Scouts, as well as a Russian language Saturday school, and the Good Tree Korean United Church.
Mission and service
The Mission & Service Fund is where all members and friends of the United Church of Canada pool their givings to live out God’s call to discipleship within Canada and around the World.
St. James’ members and adherents are also encouraged to support organizations outside of the United Church and contribute to a discretionary fund through special Outreach Offerings. We are always looking for additional committee members with new ideas to select recipients and to keep our congregation informed.
we are the people of St. James!
meet the team
rev. maya douglas
The Reverend Maya Douglas recently joined St. James United Church as our full-time minister (permanent). Prior to her arrival, she served Queensville Holland Landing United Church and Bloor Street United Church. She is a two-time graduate with a Master of Religious Education (2008) and a Master of Divinity (2016), as well as an active alumni executive of Emmanuel College at Victoria University of the University of Toronto.
Maya is a Montréal native of Taίno Indigenous & African-Jamaican ancestry who uses “she/her” and “they/them” pronouns. Her family is heavily involved in musical pursuits, from training in choirs and playing string instruments to cultural dancing. Maya is deeply interested in conscious parenting, spiritual embodiment, and dancing. She enjoys reading, watching movies and canoeing. Reflecting theologically on life’s events and issues are her passions. This is evident in her preaching style and involvement with study groups.
A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, J.-C. grew up surrounded by the music of the Church. Music in worship has always had a special meaning for him, and childhood piano lessons quickly provided him with skills to take a leadership role in worship music. He studied music (piano) at the university level in Massachusetts, and has taken further studies in organ, voice, choral conducting, handbells, percussion and music in worship, all of which inform his music ministry.
J.-C. is a free-lance church musician, conductor and accompanist active in the eastern Greater Toronto Area. In addition to his role as Music Minister at St. James United Church, he also serves as organist and occasional cantor for the Sunday 5 p.m. mass at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Pickering. He directs the Durham Community Choir and Espressivo Singers in Oshawa. He is also extensively involved in English handbell ringing in Ontario. He conducts Bells of Bowmanville at the Bowmanville Seventh-day Adventist Church; The Bronze Foundation, Toronto’s auditioned community handbell ensemble, and Bronze Foundation Academy, a new intermediate-level community handbell choir. Naturally inquisitive, in his free time J.-C. likes to travel, read, think, and satisfy his curiosity.
Wendy Simone joined the St. James family as Director of the St. James Junior & Youth Choir in 2018 and is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach and make beautiful music with the young singers of our church community. Wendy has sung in Greater Toronto Area-based choirs for over 30 years. Her love of choral singing and passion for high-quality music-making have granted her the opportunity to sing with: the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, University of Toronto MacMillan Singers, Oriana Women’s Choir, Ontario Youth Choir, and Amadeus Choir.
Wendy attended the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice, with a concentration in History & Theory. She also holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from George Brown College and a Bachelor of Education degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. In the fall of 2021, Wendy returned to OISE to begin her Master of Education studies in Language and Literacies Education on a part-time basis. Wendy is a certified member of the Ontario College of Teachers and has been teaching for the Peel District School Board since 2012. She currently sings with the St. Patrick’s Gregorian Choir under the direction of Surinder S. Mundra and enjoys freelance work as a classically-trained mezzo soprano. Since 2010, Wendy has performed in over 25 musicals and operas, in leading, supporting and ensemble roles.
Matty is probably the voice you will hear when you phone our office. She will also be the first person you see. She is always smiling and delighted to help with any inquiries you may have!
Worku assists in keeping our facility safe and clean. He has been with us for over 5 years. He is happy to meet any visitors to the building. Please be sure to say, “Hello!”
st. james united
Our vision at St. James United Church is to be a Spirit-filled, connected, transformational church that challenges the status quo and provokes interaction on our journey of faith.
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