Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2007

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Disciples of Christ



Disciples of Christ. Probably due to evangelical stirrings which shook Europe and America at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, the religious body known as Disciples of Christ arose in various centres. In Canada, as early as 1820, certain congregations known as Scottish Baptists linked themselves with the reformation begun by Thomas and Alexander Campbell in Western Pennsylvania (1809), Walter Scott in Ohio, and Barton W. Stone in Kentucky. In River John, New Brunswick, such a congregation existed in 1815. Including a church in Montreal, the Disciples have planted churches in every province, and now have extension organizations in seven provinces. They are known individually as "Disciples", and "Churches of Christ" describes scripturally their congregations. Strong development came in Ontario, beginning about 1830 and advancing for forty years, with a further advance after 1890. Ontario's home mission organization dates from 1845.

Early promotion there was due to certain Scottish "pioneer preachers", of whom James Black (1820) was foremost. Alexander Anderson (1832), James Kilgour (1845), Charles J. Lister (1835), David Oliphant (1845), Joseph Ash (1833), and Edmund Sheppard (1857) are others. Names held in high honour in Prince Edward Island are Alexander Crawford, a Scottish Baptist (1811), Donald Crawford (1850), and W. H. Herding (1889). Early founders in New Brunswick were George Garraty (1830), James Barnaby, Charles Berry, and W. W. Eaton (1858). Nova Scotia had Benjamin Howard and John McDonald (1832) as early preachers. Establishment in cities dates from Halifax (1830), St. John, New Brunswick, (1834), Toronto (1830), Winnipeg (1902), and Vancouver (1905). In 1904 William G. Kitchen founded the first church in Saskatchewan, and J. L. Romig in 1909 began to open churches in Alberta. Most of the hundred odd churches in Canada co-operate with the United Christian Missionary Society – the central organization of the Disciples on a world basis, representing a membership of 1,817,238 in fourteen countries. The body has a yearly international convention. Publications have existed in Canada since 1836, and a national journal, the Canadian Disciple, was founded in 1923. The body holds all common evangelical doctrines, baptizes by immersion, and receives into membership "those professing faith scripturally manifest in Jesus as lord and essentially divine." Its great plea is for Christian union based upon the simplest and most uncontrovertible basis scripturally. This advocacy for more than a century has influenced Canada's action towards Christian union. In 1923 a national organization, with unification aims, was started, . with George H. Stewart, of Winnipeg, as chairman. Ministerial training colleges have existed in West Gore, Nova Scotia, and in Beamsville, St. Thomas, and Toronto, Ontario, but none have been permanent. The census showed in 1881 a membership of 20,193; in 1921, 13,107; in 1931, 15,811.


Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 213-214.

© 2007 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College