Revival in the City

Revival in the City: The Impact of American Evangelists in Canada, 1884-1914

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Revival in the City
    Book Description:

    From the 1880s to the outset of World War I, the best-known American evangelists held hundreds of revival meetings in cities across Canada. Over a million and a half Canadians gathered in churches, roller rinks, halls, theatres, factories, and even saloons to hear the likes of D.L. Moody, Sam Jones, Sam Small, Reuben Torrey, and J. Wilbur Chapman preach a particular brand of American revivalism. While at first these meetings were as successful in Canada as they were in the US, by the second decade of the twentieth century the support of Canadian Protestant leaders for revivalism had diminished. The American evangelists inspired their largely working-class listeners by talk of personal salvation, but, Eric Crouse argues, in an increasingly secular climate this inspiration did not lead them to become church members. The Canadian church leadership thus came to see the revival experience as costly and ineffective.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7290-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Before the sounds and images of American radio, talking movies, and television, there was an onslaught of American popular religion into the lives of a surprising number of English Canadians. As a result of the emergence of famous Protestant evangelists in the United States from the mid-1870s to the First World War, populist forms of American conservative evangelicalism flourished in Canada. Many English-Canadian workers embraced the revivalism and conservative evangelicalism of visiting Americans who held meetings from coast to coast in churches, roller rinks, halls, theatres, and other public urban spaces. The attendance exceeded one and a half million for...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Evangelists
    (pp. 15-30)

    The year was 1875. “The jam was terrible and the confusion indescribable,” reported the New YorkTimes.One of the headlines revealed much in few words: “FIFTY THOUSAND IN AND ABOUT THE RINK DURING THE AFTERNOON.”¹ The place was the Brooklyn Rink the event was a revival meeting, and the evangelistic team was Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey. As theNationexplained in its 1876 article on Moody and Sankey, the success of their work was that it was “an old-fashioned revival with the modern improvements,” a backwoods camp meeting expanded and transplanted to the city.² Countless Americans commuted to...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Endorsement
    (pp. 31-52)

    In the 11 December 1884 issue ofThe Week: A Canadian Journal of Politics, Society, and Literature,a report on Dwight L. Moody stated that “he is offensively American – by which we mean that he is characterized by many offensive Americanisms in speech, style, and system. But, when all exceptions have been taken, he still remains a remarkable and perhaps even a great man.” TheWeekbelieved Moody to be “too dogmatic, too literal, and too emotional” and a poor model for Canadian preachers but found it difficult to dismiss his charisma, which attracted masses of Canadians during the late...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Limitations
    (pp. 53-78)

    Sam Jones, an American from the deep south, became a household name in English Canada largely because of the success that he and co-evangelist Sam Small enjoyed during their Toronto campaign in 1886, less than two years after Dwight L. Moody’s first set of Canadian meetings. If the volume of press coverage is an accurate indication of Jones’s fame, he was virtually an overnight popular-culture success in central Canada; at bookstores, and even on trains throughout Ontario, eager Canadian readers bought his evangelical sermons and sayings.¹

    To contemporaries like Toronto Methodist leaders, the Jones and Small 1886 campaign was an...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Resurgence
    (pp. 79-105)

    The Canadian campaigns of Reuben Torrey began approximately two decades after Dwight L. Moody’s and Sam Jones’s and Sam Small’s first revival excursions into Canada. The interval is significant. First, Torrey’s message was much more clearly a conservative evangelical message than Moody’s. The offence of modernism, which Moody had treated lightly, was central in the sermons of Torrey. But, second, despite the new emphases in Torrey’s message his sustained popularity among Canadian Protestants as measured by the press accounts was considerably greater than the popularity Jones and Small, and fell short of Moody’s popularity by only a small margin. There...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Transition
    (pp. 106-132)

    Revivalism commanded the respect of most Protestants in Canada when J. Wilbur Chapman began plans to conduct a number of revival meetings in Winnipeg, the first of his many meetings to take place in nine Canadian cities between 1907 and 1911. By bringing with him a contingent of co-evangelists and workers to stage a series of simultaneous revival services, Chapman further enriched the Canadian revival experience. Like Torrey, Chapman believed in the premillennial second coming of Christ, the doctrines of human depravity and eternal punishment, and the inerrancy of Scripture.

    Blending conservative evangelicalism with popular culture, Chapman’s campaigns attracted large...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Results
    (pp. 133-156)

    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, masses of people from rural areas and from other countries descended on Canadian cities seeking work and a better life. In the midst of this, Protestant leaders mainly focused on the issue of the city’s Christian and moral character rather than on working-class grievance and need or the shortcomings of capitalism. As many Protestants saw it, the city needed revival and there were great expectations among Canadian Protestant clergy and lay leaders that visiting American evangelists would play a major role in the revitalization of Canadian Protestantism and the “re-moralization” of civic...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-162)

    The drama of revivalism, so amply recorded in newspaper and magazine accounts, is undeniable. One example is the MontrealDaily Staraccount of one of Moody’s departures: “Then there was a last farewell from the crowd, which was partly drowned by the puffing and panting of the iron horse, and the train which carried the man who had kept thousands and thousands spellbound for a fortnight and had shown them the road to a higher, a better life, disappeared into the darkness.”¹ A myriad of revival stories in the popular press voiced the themes of piety, power, and community. In...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 163-204)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-224)
  15. Index
    (pp. 225-230)