The scene was inspiring. It was 1894 Toronto, Canada. Overflowing crowds jammed into the evangelistic meetings led by American evangelist Dwight L. Moody. For this event, evangelical Anglicans played a key role in bringing Moody to Toronto and supporting his popular revivalism and evangelicalism. The Rev. Dyson Hague, for example, admitted that Moody’s cup was not of polished crystal, yet it contained living water and it was the water that people wanted.
The evangelical wing of the Anglican Church remained vibrant in the twentieth century. Anglican Church of Canada membership was healthy until the mid-1960s. In 1966, the Anglicans reported membership near 1.3 million, the highest for any Protestant denomination in Canada (the United Church of Canada reported just over 1 million, but by other statistics it was the largest Protestant denomination).
Both the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada began to welcome a more liberal trajectory in regards to theology and social issues. The two denominations even considered uniting as one, but this plan fizzled. Each denomination did undergo a process of liberalization and the cost of watering down the Gospel was high. Data from 2012 shows that the average church attendance for the United Church is about 50 people (quite alarming given the large number of UC buildings with seating capacities in the hundreds). The data on the Anglicans is similarly gloomy.
A 2010 working paper on Anglican Church statistics shows that membership dropped drastically from the years 1964 to 2001. There were 1,365,313 members in 1964 and 641,845 in 2001 (a 47% decline). This is all the more dramatic when one considers that the population of Canada had increased 60%. An even sharper decline was Sunday school enrollment. For the period 1951 to 2001, the decline was greater than 80%.
The picture for the 21st century is also dismal. Since 2002 a number of Anglican dioceses across Canada authorized the blessing of same-sex unions. Michael Ingham, the first Anglican bishop of Canada to bless same-sex unions, declared in a November 2009 news story that the “Anglican church is a big tent. It has room for liberals and conservatives.”
But a majority of Anglicans in certain churches decided that they preferred an orthodox Anglican approach that honored historic doctrine. One Vancouver, British Columbia church voted 97.7% in favor of breaking fellowship with the Anglican Church of Canada. The next step for this church, and other Anglican churches that followed, was to come under the jurisdiction of other Anglican bodies outside of Canada.
The material cost has been high for those Anglican churches staying true to historic biblical teaching. The Anglicans who chose orthodoxy have lost their parish properties in court cases to “big tent” Anglican leaders who continue to see the memberships of their churches plummet.
Some commentators predict that the Anglican of Church of Canada will pretty much disappear in about 40 years, but there are a good number of Anglicans across the nation praying for revival and the reversal of Anglican decline. Recently, I heard that one group of Anglicans in British Columbia, who lost their building, are growing in numbers as they worship elsewhere. Canada could very well see genuine revival in the Anglican Church as more Anglicans say no to an elite liberal hierarchy and stay faithful to the Bible. Anglicans played an important role in the revivals of the past and they can do so in the future.
Published initially at The Conservative Prof.: https://theconservativeprof.wordpress.com/