Evangelicals have a lot more going for them in Canada than ever before. Revival is revitalizing scores of churches and reaching into hundreds of others, especially in the western provinces. Enrollments in Christian higher-education institutions are at an all-time high. Young Catholics who say they are turned off by their church but turned on by Jesus are joining evangelical churches in the eastern provinces, where there is also growing rapprochement between evangelically oriented charismatics in Catholic and Protestant communions. And it’s an evangelical image that comes across loud and clear on a nationwide television program that pulls higher audience ratings than any other religious show produced in Canada.

Yet getting it all together is something else. Leaders in the eight-year-old Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) would like to see that happen. Statistically, the odds are in their favor. Canada has a population of only twenty-two million, and the EFC leaders say that fully one-fifth of the ten million who claim Protestant affiliation are evangelicals. And there are only thirty denominations (the United States has more than 200). But other factors work against the favorable odds.

At last month’s annual EFC meeting, held for the first time in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, EFC secretary Charles Tipp pointed out that language distinctions, geographical distances, cultural factors, “and carnal differences have divided us.”

There are also theological differences that make some shun the EFC. Separatists complain about evangelicals in the EFC who allegedly “compromise” on some issues. Anti-tongues groups dislike the EFC’s inclusion of Pentecostals in the circle of fellowship.

Prior to the meeting, EFC president Robert N. Thompson, member of parliament known for his international troubleshooting abilities, stated: “It seems so difficult to understand why some Christians take a passive and disinterested attitude toward something which is for their own spiritual benefit and strengthening. The problems of financial support, of positive and realistic action in the areas of spiritual and social responsibility, of laying a framework for activity which must come with any genuine awakening, tend to frustrate me. In spite of this, we must carry on.”

Thompson said he was encouraged by the annual meeting. Nearly 200 voting delegates registered, and evening attendance approached 1,000. The delegates voted to set up a full-time staff office headed by a paid executive secretary (the EFC’s leaders are non-paid elected officers, aided by volunteer workers), but not until adequate funds have been pledged.

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The delegates also voted to open up membership to denominations and evangelical groups within denominations. Until now, membership has been limited to individuals, local churches, institutions, and certain organizations. Insiders say the move may be just the impetus needed to get the EFC moving.

Several smaller denominations have already indicated their desire to join. Among them is the Canadian branch of the New York-headquartered Christian and Missionary Alliance. A CMA spokesman said Canadian CMA money could thus be channeled into the EFC instead of to the National Association of Evangelicals in the United States, as it now is.

This sense of nationalism was noticed among EFC educators too. They would like to see fewer students going south to Christian colleges and seminaries in America. The exodus, says Tipp, results in slimmer pickings for Canadian schools and in a money shortage that prevents the building of new schools and bolstering of older ones.

More than 3,000 students are enrolled in the member schools of the Association of Canadian Bible Colleges, and there are about 2,000 in other Bible schools that do not grant degrees. Additionally, some evangelicals attend denominational schools affiliated with state universities. But the scene is bleak at the thoroughly Christian liberal arts undergraduate and graduate levels, where only a few schoolsAmong them: Regent College in Vancouver, Trinity Western Junior College in Langley, Richmond College and the Institute for Christian Studies, both in Toronto, and the Canadian Theological College in Regina. A Christian university to be located in New Brunswick is on the drawing board. are functioning—hence the exodus to America. (The bulk of Christian students, however, are getting a secular education in Canada’s state schools.)

In the only other major action of the convention, the EFC came out against abortion on demand. The resolution declared that life begins at fertilization, and urged that legal rights be extended to the fetus. The statement will make no new enemies for the EFC among the many conservative-minded outside its rolls, and certainly not among the Catholics.

The EFC now wants to concentrate on making new friends. The time seems ripe enough. For instance, the huge liberal-controlled United Church of Canada recently proclaimed evangelism as its number one priority, thanks in part to a four-year-old growing band of evangelical activists known as the United Church Renewal Fellowship.

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A leader of the eleven-denominatior. Canadian Council of Churches noted that merger talks were going on among a number of denominations but added: “The polarization between conservative evangelicals and those of a more liberal persuasion cuts right across denominational lines and is more significant than the differences between the denominations.”

The EFC says its task is “to seek out the evangelicals of our land and unite them in a common purpose for the revival of the church,” implying that fellowship is only a means to an end. Currently, however, most evangelical churches and groups seem bent on going it alone and getting things done their respective ways.

Conceivably, EFC’s end purpose may be achieved before its means.

Quebec: Breaking The Ice

In what was billed as the first interdenominational evangelical crusade in the city of Quebec’s 364-year history, more than 100 Quebecois last month made first-time decisions for Christ, according to television evangelist David Mainse, the man who conducted the crusade. Many of the sponsoring churches, both French- and English-speaking, have launched follow-up classes for the new converts, he said.

Protestant churches in the mainly French-speaking, mostly Roman Catholic city rarely average more than 600 total attendance at Sunday services, and evangelical churches average fewer than fifty members. Thus the gains may have a larger impact than the number suggests, Mainse added.

Mainse, 35, is an Assembly of God minister who gave up the pastorate to work full-time as host of Canada’s top-rated religious television show, “Crossroads” (see March 17 issue, page 41). He credits the TV exposure (his program has been on an English-language Quebec station for six years) for swelling the nightly crusade audience to more than 200, said to be a large crowd by evangelical standards in the area.

The crusade was held in the gymnasium of the Quebec High School, an English-speaking. Protestant school in a city and province where most secondary education is provided by French-language Catholic schools. Those who responded to the bilingual crusade’s appeal (French-Canadian pastor André Gagnon interpreted for Mainse) were divided 60 per cent English and 40 per cent French, with most indicating Roman Catholicism as their background. (Fewer than 25,000 of the city’s 500,000 claim English as their primary tongue; more than 90 per cent of the province’s six million people are Catholics.)

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Much of the new life in the province’s evangelical churches is coming from young Catholics who voice disillusionment with their church but enthusiasm for Christ, said a French pastor. It is estimated that 75 per cent of those in the evangelical churches are under thirty, and that 95 per cent have come from Catholic backgrounds. One pastor says he has only one member with a non-Catholic past.

Evangelism in Quebec province is mostly a one-to-one matter and seldom done on a crusade level, says French Canadian pastor Jules Mailloux, but the scene may be thawing a bit. To help break the ice a little more, Mainse is planning a French-language edition of “Crossroads” with Gagnon as host. Negotiations with five stations are under way, and the program is slated to go on the air in June as the first gospel program to appear on French television in the province.


Agenda: The World

Evangelist Billy Graham and a group of evangelical leaders from five continents meeting in Vero Beach, Florida, last month announced that an International Congress on World Evangelization will convene in Europe in the late summer or early fall of 1974.

The congress will be sponsored by many of the world’s evangelical church leaders, and between 3,000 and 5,000 delegates from throughout the world will be invited to participate, said Anglican bishop A. Jack Dain of Australia, presiding chairman of the group.

An earlier congress, sponsored by Graham and CHRISTIANITY TODAY, was held in Berlin in 1966 and attended by 1,100 delegates. Since that time, regional congresses on evangelism have been held in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and North America. The call for an international congress came in “a groundswell of interest and requests” from these regional meetings and individual leaders, Dain said.

Explo 72: The Long Haul

Finding a place big enough for the 250,000 persons expected at the closing-night rally of Campus Crusade’s Explo 72 was a challenge even for a city the size of Dallas, one known as a convention-pleaser.

Explo director Paul Eshleman thought he had just the spot in mind—a beautiful lakeshore field reminiscent of the area around the Sea of Galilee. But logistics of getting 250,000 souls in and out appeared more formidable than feeding 5,000 with two loaves and five fish.

Eshleman figured it would take thirteen hours to get everybody bused in and thirteen more to get them out. Billy Graham and Bill Bright are slated to address the mammoth gathering’s climax June 17. (A worldwide day of prayer for Explo was set for April 22.)

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Prayers were answered, however, last month when the Dallas City Council unanimously voted to let Explo use a half-mile-long mall one block wide between two freeways. The motion to allow use of the mall was made by a councilman who plans to house twenty-nine Crusaders in his home during the six-day extravaganza. Explo’s purpose is to train 100,000 to evangelize the world (see January 1, 1971, issue, page 43).

Sixty-seven arterial roads connect to the long mall, say Crusade staffers, so transportation should not be a big hassle.

Meanwhile, Crusade staffed the second annual Pro Football Christian Leadership Conference, sponsored in Dallas by unofficial chaplain of the pros Ira Lee Eshleman.

Seventy-five pro players from twenty-nine teams attended. Many took part in witness excursions to high schools and hospitals, and “numerous” decisions for Christ were reported.

In testimony sessions a number of players recounted their own recent conversions and spoke of a deeper desire to share their faith with others. Speakers included Crusade’s Bill Bright; film producer Billy Zeoli, who holds chapel services regularly with the Dallas Cowboys; evangelist Tom Skinner, unofficial chaplain of the Washington Redskins; and Cowboys Coach Tom Landry.

Population Fallout

Protestant and Catholic leaders are falling out over the report of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. It contains a controversial section that more or less endorses abortion and sterilization on demand and recommends that contraceptives be made available to teen-agers.

Monsignor James T. McHugh of the Division of Family Life, U. S. Catholic Conference, accused the commission of floundering in an “ideological valley of death.” Methodist bishop John Wesley Lord labeled the Catholic position “if not immoral, less moral than the Protestant position.” Population growth for its own sake, he explained, presents a vicious moral problem.

Lord made the statement at an ecumenical press conference held last month to urge that the population report not be shelved because of the controversial section. Dr. Cynthia Wedel, president of the National Council of Churches, read a statement calling for careful study of the report’s recommendations. United Presbyterian Church moderator Lois Stair and United Methodist executive A. Dudley Ward asked that President Nixon develop an executive office on population growth.

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All four declined to express direct approval of the entire report, saying that their denominations had not yet studied the commission’s findings. Resolutions concerning it will be offered at the United Methodist Church convention this month. In May the United Presbyterian Church at its General Assembly will use the study to supplement its own report on population.

Calling the report a “great and signal event,” Lord and the other panelists predicted that the study would become a major resource tool for churches’ adult-education programs.


Catholics: Plus And Minus

Catholics around the world have grown from 526.5 million to 533.6 million since 1969, according to the latest Catholic yearbook, covering 1971. But the total of priests declined by 4,228, and there are ninety-three fewer seminaries (forty-four of them classed as “major”) than in 1969.

Amnesty: Grasping For Leverage

Except for those “convicted of violence against persons,” total and unconditional amnesty should be granted to dissenters from the war in Viet Nam, according to a statement adopted by about eighty participants in an interreligious conference on amnesty. The meeting, sponsored by the National Council of Churches, was held in Washington, D. C., last month.

The lone opposition came from American Baptist Herman Benner, who wanted to tie amnesty to two years of community service.

The statement covers draft resisters, deserters, veterans with less than honorable discharges, and others “in legal jeopardy because of the war in Southeast Asia.”

In rejection of the concept of conditional amnesty (involving only those whose acts were based on principles of conscience and who will accept compensatory service) now being discussed in high government circles, the group stated: “We do not presume to judge [dissenters’] motives.” Presbyterian William Yolton said that conditional amnesty would create an “impossible” administrative task because of sheer numbers and the difficulty in sorting out motives. He conceded that some draft dodging is a matter of “personal expediency” rather than conscience. His effort to inject into the statement a reference to the ultimate judging of hearts by God was defeated after Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin, Jr., objected. Coffin argued that the insertion of “God-talk” would make the resolution—addressed to the “religious community in America”—less acceptable.

Many participants seemed more bent on using the amnesty issue as a crowbar on President Nixon for his failure to stop the war. American Civil Liberties Union official Henry Schwarzchild declared, “Amnesty is the leverage by which we can again raise the issue of the morality of the war.”

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The Vice-President Is Missing

Has a rift opened between cultist Herbert W. Armstrong (“The World Tomorrow” broadcast and Plain Truth magazine), 79, and his son, Garner Ted, 42, number-two man in Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God?

“Definitely not,” says publicist Les Stocker of Armstrong’s plush Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. He insists that Garner Ted’s disappearance from the scene is for “purely personal reasons.” A secretary said he is merely on a leave of absence until July.

In February the elder Armstrong suddenly appeared in his son’s place on the broadcast (300 stations) and telecast (fifty stations). And the March issue of Plain Truth (circulation: two million) listed David Jon Hill as managing editor instead of the younger Armstrong. It was learned that a long explanatory letter from the senior Armstrong was read to the cult’s 250 congregations (they meet in rented halls) on February 12, with instructions that the letters be destroyed immediately afterward. Contents was not divulged.

Stocker hinted that Garner Ted may be suffering from exhaustion. Asked whether it wasn’t unusual for an official to be stripped of his titles during a leave of absence, Stocker replied: “That’s part of the problem; he’s had to handle too many jobs.” In addition to his broadcasting and editing positions, Garner Ted has been listed as vice-president of the denomination and vice-chancellor of the sect’s three colleges—in Pasadena (700 students), Big Sandy, Texas (550 students), and a London suburb (350 students).

The elder Armstrong was on a world tour and unavailable for comment, and Garner Ted likewise was reportedly unavailable for comment while traveling in the Pacific Northwest.

Armstrong’s teachings have been described as “an eclectic blend of Seventh-day Adventism. Russellism, Mormonism, and British-Israelism” (see December 17, 1971, issue, page 6).

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