The history of Port Nelson United Church is very much tied to the development of the City of Burlington. Like most communities, Port Nelson began rather informally when a small group of people who had been part of the former Trinity and St Paul’s United Churches in downtown Burlington felt God was calling them to begin a new church in the Roseland area.
The first public gatherings of the new church were in the former Glenwood School, near the corner of Guelph Line and Glenwood School Drive. In April 1952, we received our charter as an “official” congregation of The United Church – Canada’s largest Protestant denomination. This ensured the church’s long-term viability, and the congregation purchased land on Guelph Line at First Street in the area that was originally known as Port Nelson, prior to the incorporation of the City of Burlington. A small building was erected that is, today, used as the Burlington headquarters of the Red Cross.
The new and thriving church quickly outgrew this facility and, in 1957, built a larger structure a few blocks east on South Drive near Rossmore Boulevard in the developing and picturesque Roseland neighbourhood.
In just five years the congregation outgrew this facility and, in 1962, a new worship space opened.
Seating about 480 people, it has been the site of countless celebrations and markings of life stages for several generations of people. The Sanctuary space features a long central aisle, detailed stained glass windows that tell of the life of Jesus as well as contemporary church history, and a fine three-manual 1962 Casavant organ which is the centerpiece of a long-standing program of musical excellence.
Port Nelson is an Affirming ministry of the United Church of Canada. As the only Affirming congregation in Burlington, Port Nelson has made a public commitment to work for the full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as affirming the variety of people who are part of God´s loving creation.
Having outgrown its space once again, Port Nelson embarked upon a major construction project in 2015. Renovations and upgrades were made to parts of the church, while other parts of the building were completely rebuilt. After years of planning, fundraising and construction, Port Nelson officially opened the revitalized space in 2019 – a modern, accessible building that features a new hall and foyer, accessible washrooms and elevator, a commercial kitchen, new furniture, paint and windows, and efficient heating and cooling systems.
Rooted in its history and optimistic about its future, the community of Port Nelson United Church will continue to gather in worship, contribute to the community at large, and seek to welcome and affirm all for years to come.