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An American who lived in Washington State once hosted an old college buddy from Alabama for a summer vacation. As the visitor's week drew to a close, the Washingtonian invited him to come out the back door. You've been here all this time," he said, "and I haven't told you that our yard ends at the Canada/U.S.border. Why don't we walk through the hedge so that you can say you've been to Canada?"
His friend liked that idea. But," he replied, "shouldn't I bring a jacket?"
Americans assume that Canada is just like the United States—except colder. When it comes to evangelicals in Canada, the stereotype may be partly true: Canadian evangelicals live and witness in a chillier cultural climate. While Christianity in the nineteenth century transformed Canada even more dramatically than America, decades of secularization have profoundly cooled the nation's once-Christian atmosphere. And even though recent polls show a slight upturn in church attendance after decades of precipitous declines the picture is still not bright. How have Canada's evangelicals responded? As the clustering of evangelical churches and ministries known as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, evangelicals in the States stand to learn much from their Canadian cousins.
At first glance, Canadian evangelicalism may not seem especially distinct from the American variety. A recent Christian conference in southern Ontario, for example, boasted a lineup of American standbys: John Wimber, Jim Wallis, and Ken Medema. Still other Americans filled out the ranks and—oh, yes—two Canadians were featured as well: Don Posterski, a widely known writer on church life and social trends in Canada, and David Mainse, host of Canada's most popular Christian talk show, 100 Huntly Street.
Another Canadian evangelical talk show recently advertised its most attractive guests: Each was a prominent American evangelical. Walk into any evangelical bookstore and you ...