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
They would reverse the divisive tendencies of the past by blending inherited insights. They would be united by a common cause and a common faith. With “assimilation” used so positively to describe nation-building, they had little difficulty thinking in similar terms about what they expected to set in motion with church union. Little did they know that their notions of mutual assimilation would someday look as quixotic in hindsight as the seemingly arcane theological quarrels that had once divided them.
W. Sparling of Wesley College in Winnipeg wanted to leave no doubt in young readers’ minds about the enormity of the task facing the churches. S. Woodsworth’s Strangers within Our Gates, a study text for the youth department of the Methodist Missionary Society, he wrote in 1909: “I can with confidence commend this pioneering Canadian work on the subject to the careful consideration of those who are desirous of understanding and grappling with this great national danger. For there is a danger and it is national!
Continuing a trend in the census figures issued ten years earlier was a startling increase in the number of immigrants, many of them speaking neither French nor English. S. 44 1 The strength of the Presbyterian numbers came as a surprise, since the final vote on church union would have projected a lower number relative to the size of the United Church. E. , and an analysis of what he called the “lost battalion,” see Silcox, Church Union in Canada, 438–43. Source: Census of Canada (1931), Table 36.
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