God's Plenty

God's Plenty: Religious Diversity in Kingston

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 472
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  • Book Info
    God's Plenty
    Book Description:

    God's Plenty examines the religious landscape of Kingston, Ontario, in the twenty-first century. The rich religious life of Kingston - a mid-sized city with a strong sense of its history and its status as a university town - is revealed in a narrative that integrates material from sociological and historical studies, websites, interviews, religious and literary scholarship, and personal experience. In Kingston, as in every Canadian city, downtown parishes and congregations have dwindled, disappeared, or moved to the suburbs. Attendance at mainline churches - and their political authority - has declined. Ethnic diversity has increased within Christian churches, while religious communities beyond Christianity and Judaism have grown. Faith groups have split along liberal and conservative lines, and the number of those claiming to have no religion - or to be spiritual but not religious - has increased. Yet amidst all this, religion continues to be evident in institutions and public life and important to the lives of many Canadians. God's Plenty, a ground-breaking contribution to the study of religion in Canada and a model for future community-based research, is the first overview of the religious topography of a Canadian city, telling the story of various faith communities and adding to the study of religious diversity and multiculturalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8580-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxix)

    Let us situate the geographical context for this book. To stand almost anywhere on Kingston’s waterfront – on top of Fort Henry Hill is a good vantage point – is to stand at a place of the merging and parting of waters. To the south lies Wolfe Island, now studded with scores of giant wind turbines, their blades rotating in the same winds that make Kingston the world’s freshwater sailing capital. The Great Cataraqui River empties into Kingston Harbour at the terminus of the Rideau Canal, which joins together various lakes and rivers over the distance of two hundred kilometres from Ottawa....

  6. [MAPS]
    (pp. xxx-2)
  7. 1 Situations of the Sacred in Kingston: From Downtown to the Suburbs
    (pp. 3-35)

    Every city possesses certain obvious characteristics that we associate with an urban environment – a stated population, a specific geographical location, a particular economic composition, and a social history. Yet cities have religious characteristics too. In the religious mind the status of the city has ranged all the way from being the abode of demonic and sinister forces to being regarded as a holy place where one encounters the divine (see chap. 10). What, then, is the religious character of Kingston, Ontario, this midsized Canadian city situated about halfway between Toronto and Montreal at the strategic point where the Great Lakes...

  8. 2 Mainline Christian Denominations: Roman Catholic, United, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist
    (pp. 36-79)

    Churches representing mainline Christianity in Canada are sometimes identified as the denominations represented by the acronym PLURA – that is, Presbyterian, Lutheran, United, Roman Catholic, and Anglican. PLURA was an anti-poverty coalition of Canada’s mainline Christian churches, resulting from the ecumenical movement toward social justice that began in the 1960s (Hutchinson n.d.; Choquette 2004, 373). In the nineteenth century, Roger O’Toole points out, 90 percent of Canadians belonged to five major denominations of Christianity, almost the same as the PLURA churches, except that Baptists rather than Lutherans were on the list. The nineteenth-century “Big Five” were Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists...

  9. 3 Protestant Evangelicals: Pentecostal, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Free Methodist
    (pp. 80-117)

    Toward the end of almost every interview for the Religious Diversity in Kingston project, researchers asked, “What is the defining characteristic of your congregation’s way of being religious?” In some respects this is a “market niche” kind of question, about how one religious group differentiates itself from others. If the interviewee hesitated, we might rephrase the question in a comparative fashion, inviting comments about why a person would affiliate with this particular group in preference to some other, perhaps nearby, group. What makes St John’s by-the-Gas-Station different from All People’s Fellowship? Surely this kind of question occurs to anyone at...

  10. 4 Proselytizing Groups: Salvation Army, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Brethren
    (pp. 118-146)

    To chart the histories of the mainline Christian and Jewish places of worship in Kingston, and to consider where they have been located since their arrival here, and why they may have subsequently relocated (see chaps. 1 and 2), does not of course tell the whole story. The account of Protestant evangelicals in chapter 3 principally dealt with churches having a denominational parent, whether Pentecostal, Christian and Missionary Alliance, or Free Methodist, and a presence in Kingston going back a century or more. Those evangelical churches represent faith communities that do not belong to the Big Three Christian denominations, nor...

  11. 5 Ethnic Christianity: Protestant, Eastern Christian, Roman Catholic
    (pp. 147-179)

    One of the greatest enhancements to the religious diversity of Kingston is the contribution of Christian churches characterized by their respective ethnicities. The range includes sizeable congregations with large church buildings of their own, others occupying house churches or storefronts or other rented or borrowed space, and still others meeting within the sanctuary or even the basement of another existing church. Some ethnic congregations – Roman Catholic ones, for instance – are part of a larger denomination, but their liturgies are often conducted in the first language of the congregants. Some groups, such as the Greek Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholics, declare their...

  12. 6 Liberal Religion: Quakers, Reform Jews, Unitarians
    (pp. 180-212)

    The three groups considered in this chapter – Quakers, Reform Jews, and Unitarians – are all instances of what could be termed “liberal religion.” They extend, and in a sense champion, the tendencies of some of the mainline Christian churches away from dogma and toward social activism (see chap. 2 ), just as the proselytizing groups of chapter 4 extend the missionizing and conversionist tendencies of the evangelical Protestants of chapter 3. The term “liberal” with regard to religion refers not so much to politics as to belief. In point of fact, the category of belief is considered by religious liberals to...

  13. 7 Diversity of Religions: Islam, Bahá’í, Hindu, Sai Baba, Sikh
    (pp. 213-247)

    When one of the researchers for the Religious Diversity in Kingston project, a master’s student from Toronto, told her father about the work she was doing, he queried, “Religious diversity in Kingston? Is there any?” In some ways that is an excellent, challenging question to raise. Census data from 2001 show that visible minorities in greater Kingston comprise less than 5 per cent of the population, numbering 6,735 out of 142,770 people, whereas in Ontario as a whole visible minorities amount to almost 20 per cent – and in Toronto about 37 per cent. About 12 per cent of Kingston’s population...

  14. 8 Women’s Roles in Religions: Mainline Denominations and Alternative Spiritualities
    (pp. 248-281)

    The changing roles of women in various aspects of society, especially over the past generation, have also made their impact felt on religion. Both popular and academic research has uncovered the oft-neglected involvement – and, regrettably, the exclusion too – of women in religious groups and communities throughout the past and, in some quarters at least, continuing into the present. In terms of providing roles for women, religions have more often been conservative than revolutionary. As former American President Jimmy Carter, speaking at the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Melbourne, Australia, in December 2009, said, “It is ironic that women...

  15. 9 Religion in Institutions: Universities, Hospitals, and Prisons
    (pp. 282-316)

    One of the best-known characterizations of Kingston is that it is a “city of institutions” – most notably five federal prisons, the Canadian Forces Base, the Canadian Forces Joint Headquarters, Queen’s University, the Royal Military College, and St Lawrence College, to say nothing of the various hospitals, secondary schools, and office headquarters that one would find in any city its size. A 2009 year-end newspaper supplement published by the Kingston Economic Development Corporation lists Kingston’s largest public sector employers, ranging from CFB Kingston with 7,800 employees, and Queen’s University with 4,200, through the health-care institutions and school boards and Correctional Services...

  16. 10 Religion in the City: Public Religion and the Religious Imagination
    (pp. 317-355)

    A green awning above the stage shelters from the weather a vocal quartet and a half-dozen musicians with their traditional brass instruments. Behind them a large banner bearing the Salvation Army red logo proclaims “Sharing God’s Love.” In the background boats are moored in the municipal marina at Confederation Basin, with the nearby Shoal Tower and the blue expanse of water of Kingston Harbour stretching toward Wolfe Island and the St Lawrence River. “On summer Sunday nights,” the major at the Salvation Army Citadel explains, “we take an hour from 6:30 to 7:30 down in Confederation Park,” directly opposite the...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 356-374)

    Even in a city the size of Kingston, mapping the entire religious landscape is, of course, an impossibility. Limits have to be set. Any map involves selections and omissions, not always drawn according to fully enunciated principles. A map also fixes what is fluid and in transition. Some personnel, buildings, and other things have altered since the major research for this book was conducted, to the extent that recent changes are not fully reflected here. Accordingly, this book has its limitations, blind spots, highlighted themes, and even prejudices. At its completion the author remains aware that there may be deficiencies,...

  18. APPENDIX A: Interview Questions
    (pp. 377-379)
  19. APPENDIX B: Religious Site Profile Template
    (pp. 380-381)
  20. APPENDIX C: List of Interviews Conducted
    (pp. 382-384)
  21. APPENDIX D: Interviews Broadcast in the Profiles: People of Faith Series
    (pp. 385-386)
  22. APPENDIX E: Letter of Information and Consent Form
    (pp. 387-389)
  23. APPENDIX F: 2001 Census, Kingston Religion
    (pp. 390-392)
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 393-418)
  25. Index
    (pp. 419-433)