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Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada

Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada

Paul Bramadat
David Seljak
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 448
  • Book Info
    Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada
    Book Description:

    Over the past decade, scholars and policy makers interested in Canadian multiculturalism have begun to take religion much more seriously. Moreover, Christian communities have become increasingly aware of the impact of ethnic diversity on church life. However, until very recently almost no systematic academic attention has been paid to the intersection between the ethnic and religious identities of individuals or communities. This gap in both our academic literature and our public discourse represents an obstacle to understanding and integrating the large numbers of "ethnic Christians," most of whom either join existing Canadian churches or create ethnically specific congregations.

    InChristianity and Ethnicity in Canada, eleven scholars explore the complex relationships between religious and ethnic identity within the nine major Christian traditions in Canada. The contributors discuss the ways in which changes in the ethnic composition of these traditions influence religious practice and identity, as well as how the nine religious traditions influence communal and individual ethnic identities. An introductory chapter by Paul Bramadat and David Seljak provides a thorough discussion of the theoretical, historical, and empirical issues involved in the study of Christianity and ethnicity in Canada. This volume complementsReligion and Ethnicity in Canadain which the authors address similar issues within the six major non-Christian communities in Canada, and within Canadian health care, education, and politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8762-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Charting the New Terrain: Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada
    (pp. 3-48)

    Surprisingly little has been written on the role of ethnicity in shaping Canada’s Christian churches, although our own experience tells us that it is significant. For example, one author of this chapter, David Seljak, grew up in a Slovenian Canadian family. The hub of the Toronto Slovenian community was Marija Pomagaj (Mary, Help of Christians) Roman Catholic Church.¹ There Slovenian Canadians went to Mass, got married, had their children baptized, and paid their last respects to deceased friends and family members. After Mass, they frequently met in the church basement to meet members of their extended family, chat, discuss politics,...

  6. 2 Roman Catholics (Anglophone and Allophone)
    (pp. 49-100)

    The caretaker unlocked the doors of the church for an old man and a teenaged boy, who had come to pay a visit. ‘I was baptized here,’ related my grandfather as he proceeded to lead me up and down the aisles of this massive gothic structure that dominated the hill overlooking the sleepy village of Formosa, Ontario. The Church of the Immaculate Conception had been the dream of Father Archangel Gstir, an Austrian-born Franciscan who founded the parish in 1861 and who envisioned building a grand structure for the local German Catholic community. He was ambitious enough to seek assistance...

  7. 3 The Francophone Roman Catholic Church
    (pp. 101-137)

    My grandmother was born in the small Quebec village of St-Édouardde-Lobinière, shortly after midnight on the first of January 1900. Coming into the world at the turn of the century and growing up on a family farm near Quebec City, she found her childhood marked by poverty. As a young adult, she went to work as a cook for a wealthy family in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She liked living in the United States, but after some time, family obligations forced her to return home to Quebec. There, she met my grandfather, a francophone Catholic widower and father of two children....

  8. 4 Canadian Anglicanism and Ethnicity
    (pp. 138-167)

    You would think that the story behind the relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and ethnicity would be straightforward. After all, its roots lie in the Church of England and it has the root wordangloright in its title. The story of the Anglican Church of Canada unfolds within the larger story of the global Anglican community.¹ The Canadian church developed, as did much of the larger global Anglican community, from the colonial activity of the British Crown, which sought to disseminate this uniquely English religion, along with English economic, political, and cultural power around the world. Anglicanism...

  9. 5 Presbyterian and Reformed Christians and Ethnicity
    (pp. 168-203)

    The Presbyterian and Reformed Christian traditions in Canada share a common heritage of the unique Protestantism inspired by John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and other Swiss Reformers. Despite popular ideas that these churches are ethnically homogeneous, they have always been diverse. Portraits of three different congregations illustrate the point.

    The church sits in the middle of a Toronto suburb on a winding boulevard. The architecture suggests to the observer that it was built sometime after the Second World War in that period of massive expansion of Christian churches into the suburbs of Canada’s cities. There are cars lining the street but...

  10. 6 The United Church of Canada: A Church Fittingly National
    (pp. 204-246)

    On 10 June 1925, at the Mutual Street Arena in Toronto, over 8,000 representatives from four church bodies – the Congregationalists, the Methodists, two-thirds of Presbyterian congregations, and the Association of Local Union Churches — gathered to bring into being the first organic church union in the Western world, the United Church of Canada. This chapter provides a sketch of how the result of that church union — Canada’s largest Protestant denomination¹ — has attempted to live out that vision of its founders, to become ‘a church ... fittingly described as national.’

    When the United Church was established as a ‘national’ church, the nation,...

  11. 7 Outsiders Becoming Mainstream: The Theology, History, and Ethnicity of Being Lutheran in Canada
    (pp. 247-286)

    In 1912, Susanna Jackle and her nine children ranging in age from two to twenty made their way by train from Montreal after suffering a week’s worth of seasickness on the ocean crossing from northern Europe. They were on their way to a new home in Saskatchewan. Susanna hustled her children into action when she saw the long-awaited sign for the town of McLean, where they were to meet her husband Lorenz, who had travelled to Canada almost one year earlier. Once they had all disembarked, Susanna was perplexed that Lorenz was not there. She double-checked her notes. Though they...

  12. 8 Canada’s Eastern Christians
    (pp. 287-329)

    If you have driven across the Canadian prairie between Winnipeg and Saskatoon you have noticed how ubiquitous are both the grain elevators and the onion-domed Ukrainian churches. You may have wandered the streets of the Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto and been surprised by storefronts promoting the sale of trinkets and Christian icons. Or perhaps you were exploring Montreal and left the Metro Henri-Bourassa, only to discover Arabic and French signage announcing the Cathedral of St Maron. These encounters signal the vitality of Eastern Christians throughout Canada. However, few Canadians appreciate the complexity of the Eastern Christian world or its particular...

  13. 9 The Poetics of Peoplehood: Ethnicity and Religion among Canada’s Mennonites
    (pp. 330-364)

    The question of religion and ethnicity is deeply vexing for many Mennonites in Canada. Their history, focused as it is on a small, closely knit, once-persecuted, migrating people of Swiss, Dutch, and German descent has produced all the features of ethnicity. Those features include a strong sense of peoplehood undergirded by a common history and genealogical interests for Mennonites generally, and distinctive dialects and clothing styles for the conservative, or ‘old order’ branches. Yet their religious ideals, emphasizing the permanency of Christ’s teachings on pacifism, humility, and service stands in opposition to ethnic identity. Indeed, ethnicity in this instance is...

  14. 10 Ethnicity and Evangelical Protestants in Canada
    (pp. 365-414)

    In 1993Maclean’smagazine surprised the nation with its cover-page declaration: ‘God is Alive: Canada is a Nation of Believers’ (Rawlyk 1996;Swift 1993). Using the results of an extensive Angus Reid survey, it became clear that theorists who had predicted the demise of religion in modern technological societies had badly underestimated the persistence of religion in the life of the nation. The cover story indicated that, despite declining levels of participation in religious institutions, vestiges of basic Christian beliefs continue to be held by the majority of Canadians. While the Angus Reid research confirmed the precipitous decline in membership and...

  15. 11 Conclusion: The Discourse of Loss and the Future of Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada
    (pp. 415-436)

    A visit to Marija Pomagaj, Toronto’s Slovenian Canadian Roman Catholic Church featured in the introduction to this volume, reveals much about the development of the relationship between religion and ethnicity in Canada’s Christian communities. Mass is still said in Slovenian, but there are fewer and fewer young people. Judging by the storefronts and restaurants, the surrounding neighbourhood — first populated by Italians and then by Portuguese — is now dominated by Koreans and other Asians. For some older Slovenian Canadians, these changes have led to a sense of sorrow. Their children now attend parish churches with no particular ethnic markers or have...

  16. Appendix: The Demographics of Christianity in Canada
    (pp. 437-440)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 441-444)