Cochrane Street United Church, originally a Methodist congregation, began as a Sunday School in 1878 and became a congregation in 1882 with the opening of its first church building at the same site as the present church building. The congregation was administered by the officers and the rules of the St. John's Circuit of the Methodist Church and was bound by the rules and discipline of the Methodist Church. In 1890, the congregation became independent and was known as St. John's East Circuit of the Methodist Church.
The congregation has had two forms of governance since its organization as an independent congregation.
When the congregation became independent in 1890, it was administered by a Quarterly Official Board, made up of a Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, members of the Board of Stewards, responsible for property and financial matters, and members of the Board of Session, responsible for the spiritual life of the congregation and personnel matters relating to the paid ordained and lay staff. The Minister or Ministers of the congregation were also members of the Quarterly Official Board, as were representatives of men and women's groups, and the Sunday School. A Board of Trustees had authority in legal and financial matters and also were members of the Official Board.
The Official Board met quarterly and held at a least an annual congregational meeting to report on the various aspects of church life. The congregation was also called to meetings by such items as the search for a new minister or major financial or other matters. The Boards of Stewards, Session and Trustees usually met monthly as individual committees or more often as required in order to carry out the day to day work of the church.
In 1914, the church building was destroyed by fire. The new building, on the original site, was opened in 1916. The church administration had the same structure, except that the congregation was now named Cochrane Street Methodist Centennial Church, in recognition of the Centenary of formalized Methodism in St. John's. In 1925, like all other Methodist churches in Newfoundland, Cochrane Street became a member of The United Church of Canada and was known as Cochrane Street Centennial United Church. The Centennial part of the name was no longer in use by the mid-1940's.
In 1987, to better reflect the work and activities of the church, the duties formerly entrusted to the Quarterly Official Board, Stewards, Session and Trustees were given to a new administrative structure, variously known as Board of Management and Board of Directors, and approved at the annual meeting of the congregation in 1987. The work of the Session now fell under Church Life and Worship Committee with its subcommittees of Worship and Sacraments, Pastoral Care, and Christian Education. The Property Committee and the Finance Committee assumed the duties of the Board of Stewards. A Board of Trustees continued to have supervision over legal, insurance and some financial aspects of the congregation. Women and men's groups continued to have representation on the new Board as did a Ministry and Personnel Committee responsible for all aspects of the relationship between employed ordained and lay staff of the congregation and the members of the congregation.
The Board met usually monthly, and reported to the congregation at least annually or at times when the concerns of the congregation needed to be heard, at times of searching for a new minister, or when major issues faced the congregation. The committees and subcommittees met usually monthly or more often as required, and reported through their representatives (usually the chairs of the committees) to the regular meetings of the Board. They also reported at the annual meetings of the congregation, as did all other groups in the congregation, such as the men's and women's organizations.
Throughout the evolution of the congregation, various committees were established for other work, such as carrying out particular projects, studying and reporting on various issues, or searching for a new minister. In 2002, a Committee on Records, Archives and History was approved by the Board to care for the records produced within the congregation as well as help promote the congregation to its members and in the community.