What lies ahead for Canadian Christians?

The Christian Pavilion that will be a part of Montreal’s Expo ’67 is perhaps the best indication of Canadian reaction to the ecumenical drive within the Christian churches today. Supported by most of the large denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, and a number of the smaller bodies, the pavilion will be an attempt to give an “ecumenical witness” to the common Christian faith. To many Canadian ecumenists this is the greatest breakthrough so far toward Christian unity.

Canada, however, is no stranger to ecumenism in its most thoroughgoing church-unionist form. After Confederation, many of the denominational groups that had been divided into numerous sub-denominational varieties came together to form large, single, national communions: Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and the like. The first interdenominational union took place on June 10, 1925, when the Methodists, Congregationalists, and over 60 per cent of the Presbyterians joined to form The United Church of Canada. The new church immediately became the largest and wealthiest Protestant denomination and has from that day wielded a very powerful influence, particularly in the direction of church union. With little professed interest in doctrine, it has laid its stress upon social action and further amalgamations.

The 35–40 per cent of the Presbyterians who refused to enter the 1925 union did so for a variety of reasons. Tradition, personal preference, doctrine, and even just plain Presbyterian stubbornness kept them from accepting the new church. In the forty years that have followed the “disruption,” however, a new generation has arisen, and a considerable number of Presbyterians now favor union. Some even feel that ...

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