The World Convention is currently building a global reference for the nearly 180 countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ congregations. Rather than wait for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up details that we readily have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact us with details at firstname.lastname@example.org Reference for further information will be in the form of web sites and mailing addresses.
Beginning first in the Province of Prince Edward Island, local church history traces its earliest roots to a group organized as the “Little Church” under New Testament principles and practices in about 1810. Alexander Crawford, one of the earliest leaders of this congregation, was a Scotch Baptist preacher who was thought to have come under the influence of and been baptized by the Haldanes in Scotland before immigrating to the new world. He labored several years at the “Little Church,” now known as the Cross Roads Church, and established others. William Ashley of Eastport, Maine was an early proclaimer of Stone-Campbell ideas in the Maritimes. In 1832 he connected with ten preaching brethren in Nova Scotia who agreed to take the scriptures as their standard of faith and practice and abandon sectarian practices. The brethren formed a conference and appointed Ashley to travel and preach for the reform movement. Ashley influenced one small congregation to begin publishing a small journal, The Christian Gleaner, made up mostly of reprints of Alexander Campbell(s writings. Through this journal, Dr. John Knox, minister for the Cross Roads Church in the 1840s, became fully persuaded by the writings of Mr. Campbell. It is believed that through Knox(s influence most of the Scotch Baptist congregations on the island came into the Disciples of Christ movement. Elsewhere others were having the same influence in leading other Scotch Baptist congregations into the reform movement.
By 1820 a Scotch Baptist congregation was established in Esquesing Township, Halton County, Ontario by elder John Menzies. Later, Menzies obtained copies of Alexander Campbell(s Millennial Harbinger which were said to have “enlightened” his mind very much. Through Menzies influence the congregation at Esquesing (Norval) grew into the principles of Mr. Campbell(s reform. Spreading the reform principles outward from there, and with the help of others such as E. T. McIntntyre and Joseph Ash, publisher of the first Disciple paper in Canada – TheGospel Vindicator, soon enough congregations were formed that by June 1843 the Disciples in Ontario were able to call their first annual meeting of delegates and brethren, which took place at Esquesing. Mr. Campbell reported the gathering in the August issue of his magazine. Desiring to see the work of the Canadian brethren first hand, Mr. Campbell, together with his wife, Selina, made an extensive visit to Ontario in July and August of 1855, speaking in Toronto, London, and many other points. Reporting freely on his trip in the August 1855 number of the Harbinger Mr. Campbell entreated the Canadian congregations to follow the words of Paul and put into practice the paramount virtues of faith, hope and love. The reform ideas were spreading across Canada but not with the rapid success of their neighbors to the south.
An early organized women(s group was at Wainfleet (now Winger Church of Christ), near Toronto after four women from that congregation attended a state meeting in Buffalo, New York in 1883. Their efforts led to the Wainfleet Mission Band which collected funds to send an evangelist to Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, now seen as the beginning of the work in the “Great West.” Despite opposition other women soon followed suit organizing mission societies, circles, and auxiliaries in local congregations and later provincial boards. Probably the earliest missionary send abroad through a cooperative effort of congregational and provincial boards was Mary Rioch of Hamilton, Ontario who would serve in Japan, beginning in 1892. Other early Canadian missionaries included Dr. William E. Macklin who went to China in 1886 and Josephine Wood Smith who labored in Japan from 1883 until her death in 1885, the first Canadian missionary of the Restoration Movement to die on foreign soil.
Following the American Civil War in the 1860s the American churches began to divide over the use of instrumental music in worship and the biblical authority for the missionary organizations. This resulted in the first division in the American churches in 1906 when the Churches of Christ, or non-instrumental congregations, were recognized as a separate body from the Disciples of Christ. In Canada something of the same feeling of separateness grew, largely in Ontario, according to Rueben Butchart reporting in his comprehensive history of the Movement in Canada, written in 1949, leading to a Canadian a cappella tradition.
In 1913 Toronto hosted the General Convention (later the International Convention) of the Disciples, the only time the convention met outside of the United States. The following decade saw the formation of the All-Canada Committee, an early effort at uniting the far-flung congregations. At the first meeting, held in 1922, there as a call to address needs of individual provinces, create an all-Canada paper, a Bible chair or all-Canada college and various other projects to promote Christian unity. Toronto also played host to Canada(s first World Convention held at the Maple Leaf Gardens in August of 1955 with Edgar Gordon Burton as President. In 1996 the World Convention returned to Canada, this time to Calgary for the fourteenth assembly with Marj Black as President.
During much of the 19th century immigration played a significant role in the development of Canada, from the British Isles to the Maritimes and Ontario. In the early years of the twentieth century many immigrants came to Western Canada from the United States, many carrying with them the ideals of the Restoration Movement. In later years immigrants came from the Philippines and Caribbean countries, particularly to the larger cities of Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg. Halsey Wakelin, a prominent leader in the twentieth century, cites this immigration as a major in the growth of the three branches of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Canada.
Today few Stone-Campbell Movement congregations in Canada are very large, many being in the 25 to150 membership range. Isolation is a problem for many congregations, a number of which are days, rather than hours, apart. Migration to urban centers is, in some cases, weakening rural congregations. On a promising note, each of the three streams has equipped themselves with camps, colleges, and gatherings in various regions thus providing facilities for Christian education, preparation for ministry and fellowship. Late in the 20th century a new generation of leaders began to emerge with a renewed vision of unity and reconciliation among the divided streams, Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples. This was particularly the case with the formation in 1990 of the Western Canadian Christian Convention as an umbrella of faith and fellowship which covers each of the three streams.
Stan Litke, former Regional Executive with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, in reporting to the Executive Committee of World Convention at their July 2002 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee summarized the current status of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Canada, citing exciting possibilities in church plants, some growth in urban congregations, strong growth in the Western Canadian Christian Convention, particularly among the a cappella Churches of Christ (many a cappella congregations in Canada are sponsored by congregations in the United States.), and the rise of ethnic congregations (Hispanic, Filipino, etc,) particularly among the Disciples of Christ. Today there are approximately 235 congregations of Restoration Movement heritage throughout Canada.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
History of the Disciples of Christ in Canada since 1830, Reuben Butchart, 1949.
Disciples in Canada, Shirley Muir, 1967.
Restoration Movement Pages. Web site: http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/index.html
Archives of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada located at the
Disciples of Christ Historical Society
1101 19th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212-2112
Web site: http://www.discipleshistory.org
The Christian church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada
Canadian Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations on the web:
Web site: http://www.disciples.org/region/index.htm#Canada
Web site: http://www.geocities.com/ontariodisciples/links.html
Also available in:
Yearbook & Directory of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Published by the Office of the General Minister and President
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986 (USA)
Web site: http://www.disciples.org
For a directory of Churches of Christ in Canada contact:
Gospel Herald at:
Web site: http://www.gospelherald.org
World Wide Directory of Churches of Christ
Web site: http://www.church-of-christ.org
Churches of Christ Around the World by Mac Lynn
21st Century Publications
2809 12th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37204
Web site: http://www.21stcc.com
For a directory of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in Canada:
Directory of the Ministry
1525 Cherry Road
Springfield, IL 62704
Web site: http://www.DirectoryoftheMinistry.com
Alberta Bible College, Calgary, Alberta
Web site: http://www.abc-ca.org
Maritime Christian College, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Web site: http://www.maritimechristiancollege.pe.ca
Western Christian College, Dauphin, Manitoba
(2004 relocating to Regina, Saskatchewan)
Web site: http://www.westernchristian.ca
Great Lakes Bible College, Waterloo, Ontario
Web site: http://www.glbc.on.ca
College of Churches of Christ in Canada
Contact the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada
Contact the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada
See links from various congregations
Gospel Herald, Beamsville, Ontario
Web site: http://www.gospelherald.org
Global Missionary Ministries, Mississauga, Ontario
Web site: http://www.mismin.com
All Canada Convention of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Maritime Christian Fellowship
Ontario Christian Convention
Ontario Christian Youth Convention
Ontario Assembly of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Prairie Young People's Association (Western Canada/USA)
Web site: http://pypa.faithweb.com
Western Canadian Christian Convention (Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples)