History of The Church Of Universal Love
Set out below is a historical narrative written by Rev. Kenneth Jackson, the last of the founding members of COUL who passed to spirit in 2014.
Rev. Kenneth Jackson
In writing this history of the Church of Universal Love, We do not want to use the words ‘begin’ or ‘began’ because we believe that if there is a beginning, then it follows there must be an end and We refuse to accept that possibility in the case of the Church of Universal Love. Therefore We will use the term ‘evolve’ or ‘evolved’.
The Church evolved in the minds of a few who were members of another well established Spiritualist Church who felt that there was a need to establish a center for people resident in the North and West of this great city.
It came together in October of 1976 when twelve of us finally decided that we would take the necessary steps towards this evolution. We resigned our membership in our current Church and we started looking for a home for our new Church.
On occasions, we would congregate in the basement of the home of Mrs Frances Francey and we would simply discuss how we were to proceed in our new endeavour. It was in one of these meetings that we formed our first Board of Directors, with Mr Peter Arnold becoming the first President and myself, Mr Kenneth V Jackson, its first Vice President. Mrs Jean Arnold was to be our first Secretary and the extremely able Mr Derek Pearce was our first Treasurer. The first Directors were Mrs Frances Francey, Mr Joe Daly, Mrs Edna Grimshaw and Mr Vince LaFontaine. This gave us a Board of nine members. This was in December of 1976.
Shortly after this Peter informed us that he had heard of a room for rent in St John’s United Church on Farmcrest off Victoria Park Ave, North of Ellesmere Rd. On inquiry we found that it was available to us for Sunday evenings and one night in the week. The rent was to be $45.00 per week. We decided to accept this opportunity even though we were still only the twelve, by sharing the cost until we would build a congregation.
As members, we met on the first Thursday evening to commit ourselves to naming our Church and to discuss the formation of our Constitution and By-Laws. First to the naming. There was one word that we were all in agreement with, ‘Love’. However, we agonized over numerous other preceding terms, such as, Temple, Center and even a suggestion of Tabernacle, until someone brilliantly said why not simply CHURCH of UNIVERSAL LOVE. This was immediately adopted and the Church became a fact.
This was at the beginning of 1977, but the Church was made official when we were accepted by the Government of the Province of Ontario on May 31, 1977, this being the date of the charter issued by the Government. The names of the first Board of Directors are listed on that charter and are considered the Charter Members. From that original nine, most have made their transition to the higher life and a few others have left the province and are not in contact.
It was not very long before we were attracting quite a following and our funds were growing. Our first setback came as a result of our presence creating a rift in the membership of St John’s United Church. It seemed that half of their members didn’t mind us being there, but the other half were objecting, because some of their congregation were attending our Church on Sunday evenings, and on the Thursday evening which we had set aside for Healing and Messages, and so they were offended.
Needless to say we left in good faith, and we soon found our next location, late in 1977, namely a place in the basement of a commercial building at the corner on Yonge St at Sheppard, beneath a restaurant. Our stay at this place proved to be progressive and our growth was very prominent. We started having development and an Open circle on Friday evenings, a practice that is still in evidence in the Church, although under a different format and name. We had our Healing and Message Service on Wednesday evenings, which were well attended.
Towards the end of 1978 we encountered another setback. Our building caught fire, starting in the restaurant above us, and everything we had amassed in furniture, books, and other assets were lost completely. Nevertheless, just like the Phoenix from the ashes, we rose again. With the aid given us by other Spiritualist Churches, we were able to start again. This time it was a building that had been a warehouse, and it needed much work to make it presentable for our purposes. We accomplished this and we were open again in the early summer of 1979.
We stayed there until 1982 and then we found a larger place on Yonge St above a store, a hairdresser’s in fact. Again we had the place totally to ourselves and we were attracting larger crowds. It was in fact, at this time, what proved to be one of our greatest assets joined us, in the person of Mrs. Marilyn Gaitskell.
The names of the Board had changed periodically during all this time. I, myself, had served as President, as indeed had Frances Francey, Joan Griffin had served as Secretary and later again as President. Change is an integral part of growth and progress and we had our share.
In 1988 we decided that we should now have a Pastor, so the membership appointed myself as the person to hold that office. In November of 1989, I became ordained as the first Minister of the Church. I remained in that position until 1996, when I stepped aside in favour of Marilyn, who became the second pastor of the Church, and who later became an Ordained Minister. We did have, for a period of time, an assistant Pastor in the person of Rev. Doreen Bauld, who later returned to Springdale Church to become its Pastor, at the Passing of the late Rev Ruth Dyke. We moved again just a little further along Yonge St, on Centre Ave. It was from there that I left and Marilyn became the Pastor.
The history from there would be a little beyond my recall, so I will graciously leave the rest for other more recent historians. I would like to point out that, while we did appear like nomads picking up our tents and moving on, I stand confirmed that each move, either in location or in personnel, was designed by the Spirit World. I firmly believe that the Church Of Universal Love will always rise from adversity because it has a very definite purpose to fulfill. Yes! It has experienced change, and so it will continue, but always growing stronger as a result.
There is a plaque in evidence in the Church memorializing those original twelve dedicated to its growth and evolution and the names of the first Board of Directors is inscribed on the Charter.
Though I am no longer active in the Church, I hold it dear to my heart, cherishing those wonderful memories, and praying that others will derive as much Spiritual benefit from it as I have.
Sincerely, in Spirit and in Truth I am,
Rev Kenneth V. Jackson.
The following are the names of the original founding members. In alphabetical order:
Mrs. Jean Arnold
Mr. Peter Arnold
Ms. Beryl Colarco
Mr. Joseph Daly
Mrs. Frances Francey
Mrs. Edna Grimshaw
Mrs. Joan Griffin
Mrs. Kathleen Jackson
Mr. Kenneth Jackson
Mr. Vince LaFontaine
Mr. Derek Pearce
Mrs. Madelene Pearce
May GOD bless them wherever they may be.