By Phyllis D. Airhart
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Additional resources for A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada
As they told the story of church union, it was simply the next stage of the worldwide expansion of Christendom, not a radical break from the past. There was, thus, a remarkable (and often overlooked) ‘conserving’ impulse in the efforts of the founding generation to restore the link between faith and community. The case for church union assumed that churches had an important role to play in shaping the nation of Canada and its people. ”119 Its proponents tended to see the state as neutral, still malleable, and welcoming of guidance in setting Canada’s moral direction.
For there is a danger and it is national! Either we must educate and elevate the incoming multitudes or they will drag us and our children down to a lower level. ”44 Sparling’s apprehension was broadly felt, even among Protestants who rejected church union as the most effective way of meeting the challenge of immigration. Speaking to the Presbyterian Pre-Assembly Congress in 1913, Rev. D. indb 12 2013-10-31 14:12:57 “Friendly Service” to the Nation 13 diseased, oppressed, draining charitable resources when unemployed and undercutting wages when employed, carrying unhelpful political baggage such as atheistic socialist ideas, and disproportionately tending toward crime, insanity, and pauperism.
Indb 29 2013-10-31 14:12:58 2 Controversy and the Construction of Identity The Vision of Christ that thou dost see Is my vision’s greatest enemy. Thine has a great hook nose like thine, Mine has a snub nose like to mine. William Blake, “The Everlasting Gospel” When William M. Birks looked for a turning point to explain his support for the church union movement, it was an unexpected Saturday night stopover on a business trip to Schreiber that came to mind. On what he described as a typical November Sunday, he worshipped at the Presbyterian church in that northern Ontario town with two men, a few women, and some children.
A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada by Phyllis D. Airhart