Religious aspects of Canada’s lavish centennial celebration will leap over ecclesiastical and theological lines. Top clergy of virtually all denominations share the patriotic spirit, and even some United States clergymen plan to lend their presence to the observance. The list of special events ranges from evangelistic campaigns to new interfaith programs. Note:
♦ Billy Graham and his Canadian associate, Leighton Ford, will crusade in several centennial evangelistic campaigns during 1967. Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, has been invited to conduct an extensive lecture tour across the nation.
♦ A centennial hymn or anthem is being created by poet-diplomat Robert Choquette and Dr. Healey Willan, dean of Canadian composers.
♦ An Interfaith Anthology of Prayers will be edited by Dr. Ramsay Armitage, former principal of Wycliffe College, Toronto. It is to draw on Christian, Hebrew, Muslim, and Buddhist doxologies and present “both traditional and modern viewpoints,” according to the Centennial Commission.
♦ A number of other centennial ecumenical experiments are being conducted. As an example, the commission reported that Mennonites in Edmonton plan to spend a day touring a mosque and meeting Muslims.
As its gift to Canadian Christians on the nation’s 100th birthday, CHRISTIANITY TODAY attempts an evangelical assessment of the religious situation. This is the first time that an entire issue of the magazine has been centered on one country.
Whatever one thinks of Canada’s tradition against the printing and sale of Sunday newspapers, it indicates the tenacity with which she can cling to a principle with its roots in Christian precepts. The ongoing role of Canadian churches is examined by the dean of the nation’s Protestant clergymen, Dr. James R. Mutchmor (see page 5).
Canada has also held on to the principle of promoting population growth—when most countries are trying to curb it. Underpopulated Canada welcomed 200,000 immigrants last year. The federal government bestows a monthly subsidy upon every child in the land. Contraceptives are still illegal, partly because of religious influence, partly because of a general resistance to change. Within the churches themselves, however, a vast array of changes can be documented, as Ian Rennie does (page 8).
A Toronto theologian, Dr. C. E. Feilding, recently completed a three-year study of ministerial training in Canada for the accrediting agency of North America. He charged that major Canadian denominations are lowering educational standards to retain students, and that some candidates who fail are ordained. Meanwhile, churches go from one theological controversy to another. Dr. Thomas Harpur examines the theological climate, beginning on page 14. Discussions of other important aspects of Canada’s present religious situation will be found on pages 11, 12, 16, and 19.
Overall, perhaps the most thought-provoking thing to be said about Canada concerns her staggering potential. This potential is very obvious on the physical level as one scans the vastness of her border. But Canada’s greatest opportunities may well be ideological or even spiritual. Her future can well be the envy of many a nation.
Chart compiled from government census figures. The population of most Canadian churches is usually given on the basis of what people say they are, rather than in terms of actually counting members in full communion. Census enumerators in 1961 were instructed to “record the specific religious body, denomination, sect or community reported in answer to the question ‘What is your religion?’ ”
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