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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Canadian Baptists Support The New Baptist Covenant

It's that time of the month again....time for another post highlighting the upcoming Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant.

Five of the 31 organizations supportive of the New Baptist Covenant represent Canadian Baptists. Since many Baptists (particularly in the South) are not the slightest bit familiar with any of these groups - allow me to offer a very brief and inadequate introduction....

Canadian Baptist Ministries

Canadian Baptist Ministries is a movement of churches who call themselves Canadian Baptists. We are the link between churches across Canada and around the world. As part of the larger family of Baptist churches around the globe, we represent one of the largest networks of faith in the Protestant world. We are one of the most multi-cultural denominations in Canada, worshiping in 32 different languages on any given Sunday in almost as many diverse worship styles.

CBM represents over 1,000 Baptist congregations through partnerships with Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, Baptist Convention of Ontario & Quebec, Union d'Églises Baptistes Françaises au Canada, and the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches. All of the above groups are supportive of the New Baptist Covenant.

Learn more about Canadian Baptist Ministries here and here.

The Baptist Union of Western Canada
The Baptist Union of Western Canada (BUWC) was formed in 1907 as the Baptist Convention of Western Canada, and adopted its present name in 1909. In 1944, the BUWC joined with the United Baptist Convention of the Maritimes (now Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches) and the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec to form the Canadian Baptist Federation (now Canadian Baptist Ministries).

BUWC offices are located in Calgary, Alberta, and education ministry is carried on through the Carey Theological College in Vancouver, British Columbia. The BUWC cooperates with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and is a partner in Canadian Baptist Ministries. In 2003 there were 162 churches in the Union - 60 in the British Columbia Area (British Columbia & Yukon Territory), 59 in the Alberta Area, and 43 in the Heartland Area (Manitoba & Saskatchewan) - with an estimated 20,000 members.

Like many Baptists congregations in the South, Baptist churches associated with the BUWC are also known for their emphasis on soul freedom or freedom of the individual conscience. These freedom-loving Baptists have a long history of stressing human rights and religious liberty as well. No creeds either...

The BUWC also emphasizes the importance of education and the need for its ministers to be well educated. Thus, even in the early 20th century their ministers often had a liberal arts as well as seminary degrees. Interestingly, Baptist Union churches have allowed for the ordination of women since 1959 and several women have served as President of the BUWC! Read more about the history of the Baptist Union here.

Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec

Formed in 1880, the BCOQ is the oldest union of Baptist churches in central Canada. Numerically, the BCOQ is comprised of 48,000 Baptists in 380 congregations. Most Canadian Baptist groups have a limited ecumenical perspective, leaning toward membership in the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. However, in addition to partnering with the Evangelical Fellowship, the BCOQ is the sole Baptist presence in the Canadian Council of Churches. As a member of the Canadian Baptist Ministries the BCOQ also relates to the Baptist World Alliance.

Baptist women in Canada have made much progress in becoming recognized in ministry. Muriel Spurgeon Carder, a McMaster University graduate, in 1948 became the first Baptist woman to be ordained in Central Canada, followed by Mae Benedict Field in the West (BUWC) in 1959. According to Baptist historian William Brackney, there remains a clear division among Baptists in Canada between "convention" Baptists who universally support and recognize women in ministry, and those in the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches who regard it as a biblically unsound practice.

Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches

In 1905 Free Will Baptists and Regular Baptists merged to form the Convention of Atlantic Baptists. A century later, the CABC consists of over 62,000 members in 538 churches and 21 associations across the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island. United around the historic Baptist position that the Bible is the "all-sufficient ground of faith and practice" Atlantic Baptist congregations partner together to accomplish ambitious ministry objectives. As a consequence of believing that "inherent in the worth of each person is also the ability of the soul to have direct access to God through Jesus Christ" Atlantic Baptists have been great champions for the cause of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. You can learn more here about the history, vision, and beliefs of Atlantic Baptists.

Union d'Eglises Baptistes Francaises au Canada

The Union of French Baptist Churches of Canada is a small association of Baptist churches for French-speaking Canadians. The Union was formally organized in 1969 and became part of the Canadian Baptist Federation (now Canadian Baptist Ministries) in 1970. Located mostly in Quebec, the Union is comprised of 29 churches with an estimated 2500 members.

Recommended Resources on Canadian Baptists
William Brackney, Baptists in North America: A Historical Perspective
William Brackney, "Baptists in Canada" in The Baptist River (Mercer, 2006)

Feel free to comment with more tidbits of Canadian Baptist history...

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Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

In Canada, as in Australia, you have a national organization (Canadian Baptist Ministries--formerly known as the Canadian Baptist Federation) composed on several regional conventions/unions--which is what the other groups you mentioned are. Yet these regional groups are more like denominations in the U.S. than like "state conventions." In other words, a member of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, would think of herself first as an Atlantic Baptist, not first as a Canadian Baptist.

I have become familiar with the Canadia system through the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America--we meet the Canadians every year!

2:52 AM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Tommy Douglas, a Canadian Baptist minister, was recently voted the "Greatest Canadian" in a nationwide contest run by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Douglas successfully ran for Parliament and is the father of Canada's universal healthcare system! Canadians are so proud of this system that not even members of the Conservative Party dare talk about privatizing healthcare.

Canadian Baptists in "Upper Canada" (now Ontario) were vital as the last stop in the Underground Railroad--providing resources for refugee slaves to begin new lives.

3:02 AM


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