Recovering a missing trail in Canadian Baptist footprints in the Northwest: stories of Chinese Baptists in Western Canada
Chung-Yan Joyce Chan
The religious history of Canada is intertwined with the socio-cultural history of the nation.
From a historical perspective, Canadian society and Canadian Christianity were inherently bicultural in nature–French and British; Catholic and Protestant. The landscape of Canadian Protestantism has been characterized by diversity, if not pluralism, denominationally and culturally, from its earliest stage of development.
Denominationally speaking, resentment against one “privileged” or dominant religion in Canada emerged almost like a “built-in” genetic trait as illustrated by the Clergy Reserves Controversy. (1) Culturally speaking, the Canadian society can be described as a mosaic.
Canada has no ethnic majority. The cities and countryside are populated by people who represent the races and cultures of the whole world. More than a hundred languages are spoken daily in Canadian homes and on the streets. Multilingualism and multiculturalism are facts of life in the central and western provinces of Canada. (2) Christian churches in Canada, regardless of denominational differences, recognized that this fact of Canadian life implies a vast opportunity as well as responsibility for missions at their doorstep. (3)
Ethnic ministries have been woven into the tapestry of Canadian Baptist home mission work in Canada; over time, this feature became an essential part of Baptist identity in Canada. In an article written for the Women’s Baptist Home Mission Board of Ontario West, J. Kaczowka, a Polish pastor who served in the All People’s Mission, made a plea to Christian churches that they “should be interested in study of manners, customs, habits, and moulds of thought of these different people in order that they may understand them better and thus have a better access to their hearts.” (4) However, when tracing the footprints of Canadian Baptist work among different ethnic groups, the East Asian trail seemed to be missing as mainline Baptists in Western Canada expressed: “when it comes to ministering to Orientals in Western Canada, we must confess that denominationally there is little to report.” (5) This paper seeks to recover the missing trail of Chinese Baptists in the Canadian Baptist footprints in the Northwest.
Overview of Canadian Baptist Work in the Northwest (6)
In 1869, the Regular Baptist Missionary Convention of Ontario sent two representatives, Thomas Davidson and Thomas Baldwin, to ascertain the condition of Western Canada for mission work. The western territories of Canada consisted of Manitoba (1870), Saskatchewan (1905), Alberta (1905), and British Columbia (1871). (7) Davidson and Baldwin came back and reported on the severe weather, limited resources, and presence of native inhabitants, conditions that made the convention hesitant about sponsoring mission work in the West even though the Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Methodists had already gained a foothold in these regions. (8) Finally, the convention commissioned Alexander McDonald (1837-1911), later known as Pioneer McDonald, as the first missionary to the West. He arrived at Winnipeg in 1873. (9)
McDonald established preaching points in conjunction with ministers of other denominations. (10) An independent Baptist congregation, the First Baptist Church of Winnipeg, was established on February 7, 1875, with fourteen founding members. The new church adopted the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. (11) Despite the difficulty in connecting a water supply into the church building, McDonald insisted on installing a baptistery in the new chapel, just a few feet from the pulpit. He was convinced that “the facility for the distinctive ordinance must be in plain view from the beginning, a constant announcement of early expected use, in this the First Baptist Church of Winnipeg and the great North West.” (12) The first believer’s baptism by immersion in Western Canada was conducted in this church a year later. (13) The first Baptist association in the West, the Red River Association, formed in 1880.
McDonald recognized that his work could not stop at the point where people received a saving knowledge of Christ. He wanted to cultivate indigenous pastors and to induce a missionary spirit among the young believers in the West. (14) In 1879, under the vision and direction of John Crawford, Prairie College was established for the training of pastors in the West. With the combined effort of the Ontario Convention, various newborn western associations and missionary societies, and aid from the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, Baptist missions in Western Canada continued to expand (See Appendix).
The influx of Central European immigrants in the late nineteenth century posed an urgent call for mission work among ethnic groups. (15) According to the list of Baptist missions to immigrants put together by Jarold K. Zeman, professor of church history at Acadia Divinity College, the Baptists had reached more than twenty-eight language groups in Canada between 1851 and 1976, including Danish, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Latvian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek, Armenian, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, Chinese, and Korean-speaking immigrants. (16) The Baptist Union of Western Canada began their work among ethnic groups early in response to massive immigration of ethnic groups into the dominion. Missions among the Germans, Scandinavians, Ukrainians, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegians occupied an important place in the course of Baptist life in Western Canada. (17) Local congregations and associations were established, and theological training for ethnic leaders was provided in order to assist these leaders in overcoming the language barrier in academic instruction. (18) However, the line of ethnic missions to the Chinese seemed to be missing.
Despite the fact that the Gold Rush and the railroad project brought a large number of Asians, especially the Chinese, to North America, with a majority of them settling in the railroad and major ports along the Pacific Coast, (19) Baptist ministry among Asian immigrants did not commence until the late 1960s, with the first work being done among the Chinese in Toronto. (20) While the Methodists and Presbyterians began their mission work with the Chinese on the West Coast as early as 1887, Baptist footprints on Chinese immigrants’ lives in Western Canada was virtually absent until the appearance of the first Chinese Baptist congregation in 1969. (21)
Stories of Chinese Baptists in Western Canada
Baptist work among the Chinese can be classified into two categories: Chinese ministries within the English-speaking churches in Western Canada and independent Chinese congregations with an English ministry for their second-generation Canadian-born children. Interestingly, churches in the first category mainly associated with two denominations: the Baptist Union of Western Canada and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, while churches in the latter category almost exclusively associated with the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. The difference in denominational affiliation reflected the unique congregational composition and “Christian culture” of the local congregations. Churches that belong to the first category attracted mainly Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese who had no or minimal exposure to Christianity. “With little if any church experience, they are willing to adapt more quickly to the culture of the English-speaking church.” (22) In contrast, membership of the churches in the second category comes almost exclusively from Hong Kong with strong connections tied to the Southern Baptist tradition.
In light of the multicultural emphasis of the Canadian society beginning in the late 1960s and officially adopted as a governmental policy with the passing of the Canadian Multicultural Act in 1988, mainline English-speaking churches began to explore venues by which they could incorporate different ethnic groups into their congregations. According to the Canadian Census 2001, “Chinese” was reported as the largest visible minority group in Canada, and the largest numbers of Chinese immigrants in Western Canada lived in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. The Chinese population in British Columbia ranked first in the proportion of visible minorities (44 percent). (23) The Chinese people group has became one of the largest “mission fields” for Christians within their home territory. The challenge of multiculturalism and massive immigration created a new horizon in looking at mission as “no longer an issue ‘out there’ in the foreign countries but ‘in there’ in our neighborhoods.” (24) Many English-speaking churches now offer English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes as a way to attract new immigrants into their churches.
Chinese ministries under this category can be further divided into two types: congregations that seek to integrate Chinese-speaking and English-speaking people in the same worship service and congregations that offer a separate worship service for the Chinese members, either with full Chinese translation or by using the Chinese language. Ward Memorial Baptist Church and Marpole Baptist Church, both located in Vancouver, belong to the former type. With the vision of building the church as a “House of Prayer for All Nations,” Ward Memorial began a Chinese ministry in July 2002. The number of Chinese attending Sunday services averages about ten people, but a majority of the attendees can be classified as a “floating congregation.” Most Chinese who attend Ward Memorial are new immigrants who hope to blend into the mainstream society. The church offers services for these immigrants, helping them to adjust to their new environment and find jobs. Both Chinese-speaking and English-speaking Christians worship together except during the sermon time, when people are divided according to their language preference. The pastor of Ward Memorial estimated that around one hundred Chinese had come through the ministries of their church but most did not stay. Many of the Chinese did not feel comfortable with this model of integration. (25)
Due to the aging of the English-speaking congregations, Marpole Baptist Church attempted to revive their church by incorporating ethnic groups into their ministry. In June 2003, a retired seminary professor began a Chinese ministry. Church programs designed for reaching the Chinese community include ESL classes, Vacation Bible School for children, the Chinese Opera group, and weekday adult Bible studies. The church insisted on an integrative model of multicultural ministry and did not wish the Chinese members to form a separate congregation. (26)
In the 1990s, the Chinese ministry of Richmond Baptist Church in Richmond, British Columbia, formed the Abundant Baptist Church. Surprisingly, even after ten years of “attempted assimilation” in the mother congregation, Abundant Baptist is still characterized by a homogeneous Cantonese-speaking culture; and in September 2003, due to the dissatisfaction of the majority of the Chinese members with the integrative model, they established an independent congregation. Their first pastor after establishing independence was a new immigrant from Hong Kong. The church ministry is now divided according to different age groups and administered by the pastor and six deacons elected by the congregation. Because of the relatively small congregational size (averaged around sixty to seventy on Sunday), the pastor is able to maintain a close relationship with the members. The congregation consists of Christians from a diverse background, not necessarily Baptists. (27)
Tom Mei, senior pastor at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Richmond, British Columbia, and former pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Vancouver, probably introduced the most successful and stable model for conducting a Chinese ministry in an English-speaking congregational setting. While Sunday services at both the English and the Chinese churches employ an integrative model, a fully translated service is offered to the Chinese participants, and the problem of language barrier is removed. The Chinese ministry at Trinity Baptist formed as a direct result of their ESL ministry. A Mandarin-speaking fellowship gathers at Trinity Baptist after service every Sunday to provide emotional and spiritual support for the Chinese members. At this point, though Broadmoor still employs a more blended model with no separate Chinese ministry, the number of Chinese attendees shows a gradual growth. Small groups and “intentional get-togethers” designed to facilitate cultural exchange are introduced to the congregation in order to enhance the multicultural church experience. (28)
A fully-multicultural church model may still be too far for the grasp of most Chinese Christians. A second category of Canadian Chinese Baptist congregations emerged as the result of massive immigration of Baptist Christians from a relatively homogeneous culture. From the late 1980s until a few years immediately after 1997 (the year when Hong Kong was returned to China), a large number of Hong Kong Chinese emigrated to North America, with a majority of them settling in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Ontario. This immigration wave brought a large number of church leaders who are grounded in the Hong Kong/Southern Baptist heritage into the Chinese Baptist churches in the metropolitan cities where Chinese immigrants congregate. (29) Traditional Sunday Schools and fellowship groups/Training Unions, the “left and right hand and Baptist churches,” remain the primary vehicles for outreach and growth. Congregations that belong to this category consist of a large number of former members of Baptist churches in Hong Kong, and members of these churches have adopted the model of governance, the style of worship, and even the discipleship and Sunday School curriculum of their Hong Kong congregations.
Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church (VCBC), the first and still the largest Chinese Baptist congregation in Western Canada, illustrates how the spiritual heritage of the homeland is being transferred into the new country. (30) The VCBC began when “a group of Christians from the Baptist Churches in Hong Kong wanted to form a fellowship in Vancouver ten years ago. Reverend Jonathan Cheung, a former pastor of Kowloon Baptist Church, was invited to lead the group.” (31)
In contrast to the slow growth rate of the Chinese Baptist congregations in the first category as described in the previous section, this direct transfer of church model from the country of origin showed an exponential growth as the immigration rate increased year by year. Within the first decade, the congregation moved three times from the home of a church member into Kingcrest [Southern] Baptist Church, and then relocated to Fraserview Mennonite Brethren Church of Vancouver in order to solve the “problem of overcrowdedness.” Between 1990 and 1994, the church purchased four houses in the neighborhood of the church to resolve the shortage of space for fellowship groups and Sunday school classes. (32) Since 1975, the church has conducted three worship services every Sunday morning in order to accommodate the large congregation.
Until the turn of last century, all independent Chinese Baptist congregations in British Columbia emerged as a result of the church planting effort of VCBC: Surrey Chinese Baptist Church in Surrey (SCBC), (33) Richmond Chinese Baptist Church in Richmond (RCBC), (34) Coquitlam Chinese Baptist Church in Port Coquitlam (CCBC), (35) and Okanagan Chinese Baptist Church in Kelowna (OCBC). (36) The influence of VCBC also extends to Chinese Baptist congregations in Alberta, especially in the initial stage of their development. Both VCBC and most of their daughter churches remain the strongest Chinese Baptist congregations in the Greater Vancouver area, both in terms of financial and human resources. When asked how the polities of these daughter congregations have been structured, interviewees responded that their church imitated the constitution and bylaws of their mother congregation. A typical Southern Baptist Chinese congregation offers several major weekly programs: Sunday worship, Sunday School for both children and adults, fellowship groups/Baptist Training Unions, and prayer meeting. Annual activity highlights include Vacation Bible School, a summer retreat, a church annual conference, and an anniversary celebration. The governing body of the church consists of the pastoral staff, the deacon board, and the church council that comprises the head of each department. Membership meetings are held monthly, or bimonthly, or quarterly. Because of the Southern Baptist connection in Hong Kong, these congregations have naturally affiliated with the Canadian Southern Baptist Convention. (37)
Because a large number of the members are immigrants from Baptist churches in Hong Kong, these congregations have mature and experienced lay leaders. These leaders held onto a strong Baptist identity transmitted from their Hong Kong church experience, but often their commitment to their Baptist identity caused conflicts within the congregation. More than one congregation reported internal church division as a result of debates over Baptist polity. Leaders were unable to make unified decisions on administrative procedures since each had a slightly different local church experience in their home country. Two congregations reported a debate upon baptism by immersion, and in one instance, a pastor, who came from a non-Baptist background, did not regard this matter as an important issue, and a serious conflict resulted among the church leaders and with the senior pastor of the mother church. Another pastor left as a result of the tension over pastoral authority and congregational “power.”
Another major issue that has confronted these Chinese Baptist congregations is the shortage of leadership, both pastoral and lay. A member from RCBC lamented that church-wide discipleship training has not been emphasized and that the burden of this ministry has fallen on the shoulders of a few people. The fellowship groups that existed seemed only to focus on building relationships but lost the original spirit of the Baptist Training Union tradition. The member also noted that motivating people to attend discipleship training proved to be difficult. Other difficulties included pastoral staff shortage. A large number of pastors who served in the independent Chinese Baptist congregations did not stay long. The frequent turnover on pastoral staffs led churches to experience upheaval and decline. The two major reasons for the early departures of staff members were: (1) conflict between the Hong Kong-raised Baptist members and their pastors who came from non-Baptist backgrounds, and (2) the conflict between Hong Kong-trained pastors and local seminary graduates.
A more recent endeavor of church planting is represented by Evangel Chinese Baptist Church (ECBC) in Edmonton. (38) The two founding pastors, Terence Chan and Roland Shum, grew up in Causeway Bay Baptist Church and Tai Po Baptist Church in Hong Kong, respectively. After emigrating to Alberta, both felt a call to full-time ministry with a special burden to urban missions. Chan graduated from Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, and Shum graduated from Edmonton Baptist Seminary. (39) In contrast to VCBC and its daughter churches in British Columbia, the majority of church members of ECBC came not from membership transfer from Hong Kong churches but from their innovative outreach ministries including parenting groups, programs at the Evangel Family Centre, Senior’s Home ministry, and community public seminars. (40) As a result of these services, ECBC develops a close tie with their local community. ECBC also utilizes a more contemporary model for Christian education. In addition to regular Sunday School classes, systematized discipleship trainings are offered through cell groups on four levels: membership classes (101), spiritual life (201), church ministries (301), and missions (401), a modification on the “Purpose-driven Church” model. (41) The church growth strategic statements clearly identify cell group multiplications, with 10 to 15 people per base unit, as their primary vehicle for outreach, discipleship, and training. (42)
Freedom for Expressing Faith in a Unique Cultural Context
The story of Chinese Baptists in Western Canada illustrates diversity in Baptist life and the meaning of life as a church. The building of communal identity is the issue at heart among the life of these Chinese Baptist congregations. “Social networks make religious beliefs plausible and new social networks thereby make new religious beliefs plausible.” (43) The Christian church provides a social structure for people to build new “family ties” with their fellow countrymen. Through worshipping and learning scripture together in their own language, sharing ethnic cuisine, and offering language school for the second-generation children, the church takes up a comprehensive role to preserve the ethnic cultural heritage that nothing else could replace. “It is impossible to talk about Christian faith without acknowledging the deep spirituality that has been nurtured by our memories of the past, both ethnically and culturally.” (44) For Chinese Christians, their cultural and spiritual roots are important. Many new Chinese Christian immigrants gravitated to churches that belonged to the same denomination as in their home country, or at least, those that shared a close theological position.
“Transnational networks between the immigrants and the origin countries” serve as a key factor in the formation of the new immigrants’ identity that has direct implications on their choice of religion and place of worship. (45) The rapid growth of independent Chinese Baptist congregations modeled after the Chinese Southern Baptist churches in Hong Kong demonstrates the power of transnational network among the immigrant community.
Through the communal identity building process, an ecclesiastical understanding takes shape. The story of Chinese Baptist congregations in Western Canada reveals the core value of the Baptist idea of being a community of faith, namely, “all believers have a right to equal privileges in the church.” (46) The integrative model of “doing church” only works if this philosophy is put into practice. This conviction requires the church to acknowledge the diversity of its congregation by affirming the uniqueness of each culture, not forcing a “cookie-cutter” kind of unity. As one Chinese pastor observed, “One thing God is doing through immigration is He is calling his church to stretch and to rethink what it means to be the church. The presence of these new people in our churches challenges the way we do ministry, the way we communicate, and, most of all, challenges how we feel about ourselves as a community.” (47)
Baptist identity in a multicultural context calls for a willingness to change and give up the former way of “doing church,” break down barriers of language and culture that keep the new immigrants from “engaging in any kind of meaningful relationships,” and allow freedom of religious expressions in different cultures. (48)
“Religion must be forever voluntary and uncoerced, and that it is not the prerogative of any power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, to compel men [sic] to conform to any religious creed or form of worship.” (49) The same principle should hold true for both English-speaking churches with a Chinese ministry to new immigrants and the Chinese-speaking churches with an English ministry to the Canadian-born second-generation offspring. While striving to assist immigrants to enter the life of the mainstream society, English-speaking churches should make special effort to embrace diversity, “a courageous choice of allowing others who are different into the ‘very structure of our being'” and not to have every person conform to the worldview of the host culture. (50) Ethnic Christians can only live with full human dignity when the uniqueness of their cultural roots and identity are being affirmed and celebrated in the community of faith. At the same time, ethnic churches should give the same freedom of expression in worship to the Canadian-born second generation without having to conform to the mode of the “parent church.” Cross-cultural ministry provides a new horizon for experimenting with the true meaning of a voluntary religion: freedom for expressing faith in a unique cultural context.
Appendix: A Chronology of Early Baptist Work in Western Canada
Manitoba and Saskatchewan
1869 The Regular Baptist Missionary Convention of Ontario sent Thomas Davidson and Thomas Baldwin to explore the West.
1873 Alexander McDonald arrived in Winnipeg, the first Baptist missionary to Western Canada.
1875 First Baptist Church, Winnipeg was founded.
1876 Daniel McCaul established a congregation in Emerson.
1878 Alex Warren, second Baptist missionary, was sent to Western Canada.
1879 A.C. Turner became the first minister ordained in Western Canada. John Crawford planned for the establishment of Prairie College for the training of Baptist pastors in the West.
1880 Red River Association, the first cooperative denomination group in Western Canada, was organized with four member congregations. A structure was erected in Rapid City as the site for Prairie College.
1882 Regular Baptist Missionary Convention of Manitoba and the Northwest was formed with W. R. Dick served as the president.
1884 Red River Association merged with the Baptist Convention of Manitoba and became the Baptist Convention of Manitoba and the North West Territories.
1887 The Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories initiated mission work among German-speaking settlers and natives.
1891 First Baptist Church, Regina, was founded.
1899 Brandon College was founded.
1900 The first Congress of the National Baptist Convention of Canada met in Winnipeg.
Alberta and British Columbia
1860 A number of black Baptists moved to Victoria, British Columbia.
1876 First Baptist Church, Victoria, was established with fifteen founding members (eight blacks and seven whites).
1877 A chapel dedication for FBC, Victoria, was held. The first baptism by immersion was performed in Western Canada.
1885 First Baptist Church, New Westminster, was established.
1886 Vancouver was incorporated as a city.
1887 First Baptist Church, Vancouver, was established.
1888 First Baptist Church, Calgary, was established.
1889 First Baptist Church, Nanaimo, was established.
1893 First Baptist Church, Edmonton, was founded.
1894 Northwest Baptist Convention (in cooperation with the American Baptist Home Missionary Society) was organized by eight Baptist churches in British Columbia.
1897 The British Columbia Baptist Extension Society was formed to outreach new settlements.
1899 The Alberta Baptist Association was formed.
1906 Okanagan College was organized.
1907 The Baptist Convention of Western Canada was organized (renamed the Baptist Union of Western Canada in 1909).
1948 The Baptist Leadership Training School was established in Calgary.
1959 Carey Hall was established on the University of British Columbia campus.
(1.) Robert Handy, A History of the Churches in the United States and Canada (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 134-35, 242-48.
(2.) Jarold K. Zeman, “They Speak in Other Tongues: Witness among Immigrants,” in Baptists in Canada: Search for Identity amidst Diversity, ed. Jarold K. Zeman (Burlington, ON: G. R. Welch Company, 1980), 68.
(3.) Phyllis D. Airhart, “Ordering a New Nation and Reordering Protestantism, 1867-1914” in The Canadian Protestant Experience, 1760 to 1990, ed. George A. Rawlyk (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990), 128.
(4.) From Sea to Sea: A Study Book of Home Missions for Mission Circles, Women’s Associations, Ladies’ Aids and Canadian Girls in Training, Senior Mission Bands; A Story of Canadian Missions across Canada in Early Days, in the Present and with an Outlook towards the Future (Ontario: The Publications Committee of the Women’s Baptist Missionary Society of Ontario West, 1940), 184.
(5.) J. E. Harris, The Baptist Union of Western Canada: A Centennial History, 1873-1973 (Mississauga, ON: The Baptist Federation of Canada, 1976), 192.
(6.) For an in-depth study of Baptist history in Western Canada, see Margaret Thompson, The Baptist Story in Western Canada (1975); William C. Smalley, Come Wind, Come Weather (personal reminiscences by the long-time general secretary of the Baptist Union); C. C. McLaurin, Pioneering in Western Canada (1939); J. Baker, Baptist History of the North Pacific Coast (1914); and J. E. Harris, The Baptist Union of Western Canada: A Centennial History, 1873-1973.
(7.) In the nineteenth century, the provinces mentioned were sometimes being referred as the “North West Territories,” not to be confused with the present-day designation of the “Northwest Territories.” The years in parentheses indicate the year when these provinces joined Confederation. Readers may refer to the following Website for an overview of Canadian history and culture: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizen/look/look/look-00e.html.
(8.) The convention’s attitude towards mission work in the West was ambivalent after the return of Baldwin and Davidson. E. R. Fitch’s work The Baptists of Canada: A History of Their Progress and Achievements stated that upon Davidson and Baldwin’s return, “the report of the committee was so favorably received that a fund was immediately raised sufficient to sustain a missionary for three years.” E. R. Fitch, The Baptists of Canada: A History of their Progress and Achievements (Toronto: The Standard Publishing Company Limited, 1911), 232. However, the question remains: if mission work to the West was so favorably received, why was there a lapse of four years before the first missionary was sent. Therefore, the author favors Harry Renfree’s perspective that the report of Davidson and Baldwin came back with a somewhat negative attitude towards missions work in Western Canada not because of their “myopic vision” but instead, because the convention were being “characteristically cautious” about the endeavor in light of the “fragile unity” of their young convention. Harry Renfree, Heritage arm Horizon: The Baptist Stories in Canada [Mississauga, ON: The Canadian Baptist Federation, 1988), 168.
(9.) Alexander McDonald was born at Osgoode, Ontario, in 1973. He studied with Robert A. Fyfe and befriended Robert McLaurin, the first Canadian missionary to India, at Canadian Literary Institute (later McMaster University). Fyfe, a theological professor and prominent denominational leader, exerted lifelong support for McDonald’s mission to the West and served as a strong advocate for the Western missions in the Ontario Convention. McDonald was remembered as “Pioneer McDonald” for his role as the “parent of the Baptist movement in western Canada. william H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 1999), 282. For a comprehensive biography of Alexander McDonald, see Theo. T. Gibson’s work, Beyond the Granite Curtain: The Story of Alexander McDonald, Pioneer Baptist Missionary to the Canadian North-West (1975).
(10.) Gibson, Beyond the Granite Curtain, 63.
(11.) Ibid., 82.
(12.) Ibid., 78.
(13.) Fitch, The Baptists of Canada, 233-34; Gibson, Beyond the Granite Curtain, 95.
(14.) Gibson, Beyond the Granite Curtain, 96-97.
(15.) Ibid., 152.
(16.) Zeman, “They Speak in Other Tongues,” 73. For an account of Baptist work among ethnic groups, see also From Sea to Sea, 184-235.
(17.) Many ethnic ministries conducted by mainline Canadian Baptists were joint ventures with the American Baptist Home Mission Board and other ethnic Baptist denominations in the United States.
(18.) Brandon College opened a Scandinavian Department for the training of Scandinavian Christians for ministry. Swedish Baptists were trained in Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota. Edmonton Baptist College and Seminary emerged as the primary place for training German-speaking Baptists ministers in Canada. See Harris, The Baptist Union of Western Canada, 184; Robert S. Wilson, “Patterns of Canadian Baptist Life in the Twentieth Century,” Baptist History and Heritage 36, no. 1-2 (Winter/Spring 2001): 40-43.
(19.) The story of the Chinese immigrants in Canada began with the Gold Rush in Fraser Valley, British Columbia, around 1858. Between 1881 and 1885, a large number of Chinese were hired for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway project. Since economic opportunity was the major attraction for overseas laborers, the Chinese population concentrated along the Pacific Coast of North America where numerous job opportunities were available. They were usually hired to engage in physically intensive jobs. Around the year 1885, about 10,000 Chinese lived in British Columbia, including 2,900 railroad workers, 1,468 miners, 1,612 farmers, 700 food canners, 708 lumber workers, and a small number of merchants. By 1899, the Chinese population in the Province of British Columbia reached 14,000. See Peter S. Li, The Chinese in Canada, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998), 16-23.
(20.) Zeman, “They Speak in Other Tongues,” 73.
(21.) A Rescue Home ministry was begun in the Chinatown of Victoria, British Columbia, in 1887 to help Chinese gifts who were forced into prostitution. The Presbyterian Church established their first Chinese mission (now the Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church) in the Chinatown of Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1895.
(22.) Thomas Mei, “”Helping English-Challenged Chinese People Find a Home in an English-Speaking Church,” (D. Min. thesis, Carey Theological College, 2003), 48.
(23.) “Census: Ethnocultural Portrait: Canada,” Census Report, 2001, http://www12.statcan.ca/ english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/etoimm/canada.cfm, accessed 9/10/03.
(24.) Mei, “Helping English-Challenged Chinese People,” 24.
(25.) Rev. Ellis Chan, interview with the author, May 18, 2004.
(26.) Pastor Lancy Siu, interview with the author, May 10, 2004.
(27.) Rev. Joel Yeung, interview with the author, May 18, 2004.
(28.) For the full story of the Chinese ministry at Broadmoor, see Mei, “Helping English-Challenged Chinese People,” 42-119.
(29.) Before 1997, the majority of Baptist churches in Hong Kong affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The majority of professors who taught at the Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary were graduates of Southern Baptist seminaries in the United States. As a result, Hong Kong Baptist identity prior to 1997 was heavily shaped by the Southern Baptist tradition.
(30.) VBCB was registered as a church in Vancouver on July 23, 1969. The founding ceremony was held on September 21, 1969, with forty-four founding members.
(31.) Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church Tenth Anniversary Commemorative Publication (Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church, 1979), 5.
(32.) Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Commemorative Publication (Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church, 1994), 13.
(33.) Surrey Chinese Baptist Church began in 1985 as the first church plant of VCBC. “It was a ‘well-planned’ church plant,” said Ms. J.W. Li, one of the founding members of the church. SCBC was the first Chinese congregation established in Surrey. SCBC inherited a good administrative structure from VCBC. However, the membership composition of the church has been quite unstable due to a variety of factors, including change of location, personality conflict between pastoral staff and deacons, and conflict over baptism and membership requirements. Ms. J.W. Li, interview with the author, May 10, 2004.
(34.) Richmond Chinese Baptist Church was established in 1989. The congregation consists of a large number of immigrants who were former members of Baptist churches in Hong Kong. After acquiring the present location with the new building, Sunday worship attendance increased from 150 to 350 in average. The greatest challenge which the church faced was the frequent change of pastoral leadership and lack of training for laypeople. The church now has four operating departments–fellowship, outreach, worship, and visitation. L. Hui, interview with the author, May 11, 2004.
(35.) Coquitlam Chinese Baptist Church was founded in 1992 by a few families from VCBC. It was the first Chinese Christian congregation in Coquitlam. Leaders of CCBC stay “conservative” in terms of how to run the church. For instance, they prefer the traditional outreach strategies such as holding an evangelistic crusade than reaching the community through social services. During the peak of immigrant influx, the church grew to about 190 in Sunday attendance. G. Tse, interview with the author, May 10, 2004.
(36.) Okanagan Chinese Baptist Church traces its roots to the mission of the Chinese Christian Missions (CCM) in 1991/92 in the area of Prince George, Vernon, and Kelowna. After a large evangelistic meeting led by a famous singer from Hong Kong in 1995, nine people accepted Christ; and the need to provide a home church for these new Christians became evident. The Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists provided a fund for the church plant, and a few families in Kelowna came together to form a core group for the newborn church. In 1997, VCBC sent a full-time pastor to lead the church. The ministries at OCBC also adopted the model of VCBC, offering Sunday School, Women’s Bible Study, Vacation Bible School, etc. Up to the present, VCBC still sends short-term missions to OCBC periodically to help strengthening the ministries. Ms. J.W. Li, interview with the author, May 10, 2004.
(37.) For the beginning of Southern Baptists’ work in Canada, see Wilson, 49-50; Richard Blackaby, “Southern Baptists in their Canadian Context, 1953-1990: An Evaluation of the Validity of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists” (Ph.D. diss., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1990).
(38.) Roland Shum led a support group for prayer and training beginning in 1992 that constituted the core group of the new church plant. Evangel Chinese Baptist Church was officially chartered in October 1995 with eleven founding members. The first public worship service began in January 1996. “Milestones,” http://www.evangel-cbc.ab.ca/cindex.htm.
(39.) “Introduction to Evangel Chinese Baptist Church,” http://www.evangel-cbc.ab.ca/cindex.htm.
(40.) “Evangel Ministries,” http://www.evangel-cbc.ab.ca/cindex.htm.
(42.) “Introduction to Evangel Chinese Baptist Church,” http://www.evangel-cbc.ab.ca/cindex.htm.
(43.) Rodney Stark and Roger Finke, Acts of Faith–Explaining the Human Side of Religion (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), 117.
(44.) Fumitaka Matsuoka, Out of Silence: Emerging Themes in Asian American Churches (Ohio: United Church Press, 1995), 29.
(45.) Fenggang Yang, “Religious Diversity among the Chinese in America,” in Religions in Asian America: Building Faith Communities, ed. Pyong Gap Min and Jung Ha Kim (New York: Altamira Press, 2002), 92.
(46.) James M. Dunn, “Equal Privileges–A Hallmark of Baptists,” in The Trophy of Baptists: Words to Celebrate Religious Liberty, ed. J. Brent Walker (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing), 79.
(47.) Mei, “Helping English-Challenged Chinese People,” 123.
(48.) Ibid., 53.
(49.) George W. Truett, “Roligious Freedom … From the First, the Trophy of Baptists,” in The Trophy of Baptists: Words to Celebrate Religious Liberty, 30.
(50.) Mei, “Helping English-Challenged Chinese People,” 152-53.
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