From its founding in 1925 the United Church operated with a unified plan of finance. Funds were raised by a united appeal to the whole church, and were apportioned to various departments of church work from a central fund known briefly as the Maintenance & Extension Fund, from 1926 as the Missionary & Maintenance Fund, and from 1970 as the Mission & Service Fund. In addition to money raised at the congregational and national levels, interest from trusts and estates and ministerial assessments under the annuity plans also went into this central fund.
Church finances were administered until 1942 by the Finance Committee of the General Council, established in 1926 following the expiration of the financial bodies of the uniting churches. The Finance Committee was responsible for the collection and investment of funds, gathering requests for funds from the boards, committees and agencies of the Church, and apportioning these funds. It was also responsible for the General Council Fund, insurance funds and policies, and the general property of the Church not specifically vested in a congregation or board or agency. Accounting, banking and investment duties were carried out by a Treasurer (assisted by a Deputy Treasurer) , who served as Secretary of the Committee.
The promotional work of fund-raising was administered by the Secretary of the Missionary & Maintenance fund and his assistants. These officials worked with the Conferences and local congregations to promote a sense of Christian stewardship throughout the Church. In addition to promoting systematic methods of giving such as weekly offerings and every-person canvassing, M&M staff at the national level created and coordinated special stewardship programmes and campaigns.
The pension funds of the uniting churches were administered by a United Church Pension Fund, the constitution and administrative board for which became operational in 1929. Due to the nature of the pension and provident funds established by the predecessor churches, the United Church Pension Fund did not become the sole pension branch of the church until 1990.
In 1942 a Board of Finance was established with three departments: Department of the Treasury, Department of Missionary & Maintenance, and Department of Pensions. The Board was composed of a chairman, the secretaries of the three departments as well as the secretary of the General Council, representatives of various boards of the church as well as representatives of the Conferences and non-ministerial members of the General Council. Each of the departments maintained their own boards and executives, with Treasury assuming much of the responsibility for budget preparation and accounting handled by the former Finance Committee. It should be noted however, that all final decisions on budgetary allocations remained with the Executive of the General Council.
In 1968 the Board of Finance became the Division of Finance, and in the same year Missionary & Maintenance became the Department of Stewardship Services. It now had responsibility for promoting the methods of stewardship throughout the whole church (in cooperation with the Committee on Education for Mission and Stewardship within the Division of Communications), and took on the additional duties of the Committee for Directed Programmes (the former Capital Funds Service), and the Office of Special Gifts and Bequests, as well as maintaining its primary responsibility for meeting the requirements of the Unified Budget Plan. In 1970 the Missionary & Maintenance fund was renamed the Mission & Service Fund. The final institutional alteration in the Division took place in 1985 when the Department of Pensions was renamed the Department of Pensions and Group Insurance.
During the reorganization of the General Council Office in 2001, the duties of the Division of Finance were separated into two parts: Financial Services (investments, revenue, expenditure, budget & reporting, facility services) and Financial Stewardship (annual/future revenue generation, bulletin cover production).The Permanent Committee on Finance, a committee of the General Council, was also created and is responsible for overseeing and monitoring the financial life and policies of the General Council, including assets, income, expenditures, considerations of its short-and long-term financial issues, risk management, and investment and fund management; overseeing long-term financial planning of the General Council, recommending the overall expenditure and income budgets to the Executive; monitoring income, expenditures, assets, liabilities and capital initiatives and reporting them regularly to the Executive and recommending financial strategies. Also in 2002, the United Church of Canada Foundation was created as an arm’s length body that is expert in the management of trusts and endowments that support the work of the Church. In 2009, Financial Services became the Finance Department and Stewardship Services work was transferred to the newly created Philanthropy Unit.