Baptists in Canada
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Baptists in Canada have a rich heritage and background. United Empire Loyalists and those of British ancestry have formed the core and foundation of the Baptist denomination in Canada.
Statistics and changes
According to the Canada 2001 Census, the number of people in Canada who identify themselves as Baptist is 729,470, about 2.5% of the population, an increase of about 10% in the 10 years since the 1991 census (see Religion in Canada).
A growing practice of existing and new churches in Canada and the United States is the dropping of the term "Baptist" from their church's name. Often, this practice is due to concern over what is perceived within the church to be a negative stereotype by the general population toward the label "Baptist", but not toward the church or Baptist beliefs in general. This negative stereotype has often been perceived legalism, associated with the word "baptist". Churches who make this change are interested in attracting people who are unchurched, and who may have barriers with becoming affiliated with a denomination, or specifically becoming a "baptist". Keeping the distinct name and simply adding Community Church to the end is a common change.
A name such as "Grace Community Church" is felt by these churches to be less likely to cause unnecessary negative stereotypes or offence, to signal and inspire a change in the mindset and vision of the church, and to fit in with the surrounding community better.
In some congregations, this change has been a source of controversy, and has not been easily accepted by some, especially older members. The most common arguments with this type of "rebranding" are 1) it is deceptive to the public, 2) it is an abandoning of Baptist history, 3) it might lead a church to eventually compromise and abandon their Baptist beliefs in order to be more inclusive, and 4) it may make it more difficult to determine the number of "Baptist" churches and those believing in the "Baptist distinctives".
Baptist missionary work began on the Atlantic coast in the 1760s but took around 100 years to reach the west coast. The first official record of a Baptist church in Canada was that of the Horton Baptist Church (now Wolfville) in Wolfville, Nova Scotia on October 29, 1778. The church was established with the assistance of the New Light evangelist Henry Alline. Many of Alline's followers, after his death, would convert and strengthen the Baptist presence in the Atlantic region. Two major groups of Baptists formed the basis of the churches in the maritimes. These were referred to as Regular Baptist (Calvinistic in their doctrine) and Free Will Baptists.
The first congregations organized in Central Canada were at Beamsville, Ontario as early as 1776 and in 1794 at Caldwell's Manor (now Saint-Georges-de-Clarenceville, Quebec). Shortly thereafter churches were organized at Hallowell, Ontario (1795) and Haldimand Township (see Alnwick/Haldimand). These were Regular Baptist congregations. Churches which were in agreement began to group together into associations in order to work together for achieving common goals. A variety of associations and affiliations have occurred since then. Eventually these associations joined together to form a convention. The centre for Baptist influence and mission work in Canada began to be firmly established in Toronto after 1848. (See Bond Street Baptist Church). Many of the original churches were established by specific missionary groups from the United States of America and by various ethnic or language groups, such as the Swedish Baptist Churches (Baptist General Conference of Canada), North American Baptist Conference (German background), and the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention of Canada.
Two significant shifts in associations have occurred, one in 1927 and one in 1953. The Union of Regular Baptist Churches was formed in 1927 in Hamilton, Ontario by 77 churches who had withdrawn from the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (BCOQ). This withdrawal was due to the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy, centred around a professor at the Convention's official seminary at McMaster University, who held a liberal/modernist position of theology.
In 1944, the BCOQ joined with the United Baptist Convention of the Maritimes and the Baptist Union of Western Canada to form the first national Canadian Baptist association, the Canadian Baptist Federation. In 1995, they merged with the Canadian Baptist International Ministries to form Canadian Baptist Ministries. The four conventions still exist within the association and counted over 1100 member churches in 1995.
By 1953 some churches had dropped out of the Union of Regular Baptist Churches, but the remainder joined with the Fellowship of Independent Baptist Churches (founded 1933) and formed the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada (FEBC). The Regular Baptist Missionary Fellowship of Alberta joined in 1963 and the Convention of Regular Baptist Churches of British Columbia (founded 1927) also joined in 1965. Known as "The Fellowship", it claims to be the largest evangelical group in Canada, with at least 500 member churches in Canada from coast to coast.
A Regular Baptist church in British Columbia joined a Southern Baptist Convention affiliate in 1953. The first SBC association was formed in 1955 and there are now 233 churches, in most provinces and territories, with the largest concentration in western Canada.
Associations of Baptists in Canada
The following are the major groupings of Baptists in Canada (alphabetically):
- Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America
- Association of Regular Baptist Churches
- Baptist General Conference of Canada
- Canadian Baptist Ministries
- Canadian National Baptist Convention
- Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada
- L'Association des Églises Missionnaire Baptiste Landmark du Québec
- L'Association des Églises Réformées Baptistes du Québec
- North American Baptist Conference
- Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada
- L'Union d'Églises baptistes françaises au Canada (see Union of French Baptist Churches of Canada)
- Independent (non-aligned) Baptist churches
Colleges/Universities/Seminaries/Lay Training Institutes (current or closed)
Baptists in Canada have had a long tradition and desire to educate their members. To this end they have built and operated a number of schools of higher education in Canada.
- Acadia Divinity College Begun in 1838 as Acadia College (Wolfville, Nova Scotia)
- Baptist Bible College Canada and Theological Seminary (Simcoe, Ontario)
- Brandon College 1889-1938 at which time it became non-denominational and later in 1967 renamed Brandon University
- Canadian Baptist Bible College (Winkler, Manitoba)
- Canada Baptist College (1836-1849) (Montréal, Québec)
- Canadian Baptist Seminary (Langley, British, Columbia)
- Canadian Literary Institute (became Woodstock College in 1883 and was later folded into McMaster University) (1860-1887) (Woodstock, Ontario)
- Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary/Canadian Baptist College (Cochrane, Alberta)
- Carey Theological College (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- Crandall University (Moncton, New Brunswick)
- Faculté de Théologie Évangélique (Montréal, Québec)
- FaithWay Baptist College of Canada (Ajax, Ontario)
- Heritage Baptist College and Heritage Theological Seminary (Cambridge, Ontario)
- Historic Baptist Bible Institute and Seminary (Toronto, Ontario)
- Moulton College (originally the ladies department of Woodstock College) transferred to Toronto as a preparatory school for women (closed in 1954).
- McMaster Divinity College Begun in 1881 as Toronto Baptist College (Hamilton, Ontario)
- Northwest Baptist Seminary (Langley, British, Columbia)
- Séminaire Baptiste Évangélique Du Québec (Montréal, Québec)
- The Pastor's College (Toronto, Ontario)
- Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College (Toronto, Ontario)
- Western Baptist Bible College (Calgary, Alberta) see Northwest Baptist Seminary
- Baptist Leadership Training School (1949- ??) (Calgary, Alberta) (Closed)
- Baptist Training Institute (1957- ??) (Brantford, Ontario) (Closed)
- Baptist Leadership Education Centre (1985- ??) (Whitby, Ontario) (Closed)
Fitch, E. R., Editor (1911). The Baptists of Canada, Toronto, Canada, The Standard Publishing Company, p. 108
- Baptist General Conference of Canada - official Web Site
- Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada - official Web Site
- Canadian National Baptist Convention - official Web Site
- Canadian Baptist Ministries - official Web site