In 1985, two Canadian denominations will finalize processes that will make them independent of parent bodies in the United States. They will join the ranks of two other churches that in recent years have severed most of their ties to American denominations.

The Canadian branch of the Baptist General Conference (BGC) will finalize its autonomy process in June at the denomination’s annual meeting in Illinois. Another church, the Lutheran Church in America-Canada section, will become autonomous in May when it merges with a Canadian denomination. In recent years, the Canadian branch of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Evangelical Free Church of Canada broke away from their U.S. counterparts.

Reasons for autonomy vary from church to church. With Lutherans, the move is tied to the denominational merger. But with all groups, the sense of Canadian identity has been a major factor.

There has been a strong desire “for people in Canadian churches to get to know and work with each other,” said Canadian BGC general secretary Abe Funk. With 6,000 members in 72 churches, the BGC began its autonomy process in the late 1970s.

Funk said the Canadian BGC will reflect a slightly more conservative stance than its American counterpart, particularly in the area of biblical inerrancy. However, strong links will remain, particularly with respect to world mission projects. The Canadian BGC plans to seek closer ties with other Baptist bodies in Canada, including possible joint theological education.

In May, the 210,000-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will be created by the merger of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ELCC) and the Lutheran Church in America-Canada section. With the merger, the latter body will become independent ...

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