Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada

Article excerpt

Phyllis D. Airhart, A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013), 446pp. Cased. $110. ISBN 978-0-7735-4248-8. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4249-5.

An exhaustive account, with an impressive array of sources, and meticulous detail, this history of the United Church of Canada traces its origins from ecumenical gestures between Methodists and Presbyterians in the nineteenth century, through formal union in 1925, to some power and influence and an eventual catastrophic loss of membership in recent times.

Throughout its history, the UCC appears to have been in constant debate as to its beliefs and mission. One might say that it exemplifies the saying that 'he who marries the Spirit of the Age will be a widower tomorrow'. Rather than seeing itself as part of a universal church preaching a largely unchanging gospel, the UCC has sought to be the unestablished church of Canada, Protestant, National, and Anglo-Saxon. However, Canada has changed because of immigration, leading to a multi-religious society, and also because of secularism emanating from Europe. Weber's 'disenchantment of the world' proceeds apace. Prepared neither to retain the old-time religion of Billy Graham, which now exists in the growing evangelical sects, nor to become a largely social service organisation with religious overtones, the UCC seems insecure as to its basis. …

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