(CP) Quebec Anglican Church challenged by exodus of parishioners

As Rev. Yves Samson speaks to his congregation in the Quebec town of Trois-Rivières, two things stand out: the bilingualism of the sermon and the dearth of parishioners.

Samson holds nothing back when he says that, without radical change, the Anglican Diocese of Quebec could soon be extinct.

“If we want to keep going on (the old) track we will all die,” Samson says in an interview after his French and English sermon to a room full of near-empty pews in the St. James Anglican Church.

The fact Samson, 49, preaches in both languages might not sound radical to many Canadians, but to the Anglican Church ”” the Church of England ”” it is.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Religion & Culture

7 comments on “(CP) Quebec Anglican Church challenged by exodus of parishioners

  1. Pb says:

    Several languages are spoken in TEC theology.

  2. oursonpolaire says:

    Anglican churches in Québec have long operated as ethnic chaplaincies- in the last fifty years, the ethnic group is disappearing through emigration and intermarriage which, combined with Québec’s strongly laicising culture, is having the inevitable effect. There has been no serious organized effort to present Anglicanism to the majority (although the name– Anglican(e), sounding an awful lot like Anglais/English does not help). While there is a small trickle of formerly-RC francophone Québécois cleaving to Anglicanism, the only real growth is from Haitian, Caribbean, and African Anglicans.

  3. Sarah1 says:

    [blockquote]”Samson said francophone Quebecers should seriously consider the Anglican Church because it represents what they are looking for: more participation of women and acceptance of divorced and gay people.” [/blockquote]
    Fascinating. Basically, people who believe the Gospel in Quebec won’t want to attend such a church. And those who do not believe the Gospel in Quebec couldn’t conceive of why they would wish to go pretend at a church!

    I see all the language issues in Quebec, and the extremely narrow/small market to pursue if one is offering only Anglo services — but once you’ve eliminated that segment of the Anglo market which believes the Gospel then you’ve got an even teensier market to hawk your wares of The Gay and Female Church.

  4. oursonpolaire says:

    I see what Sarah1 is saying about Fr Samson’s comments but I am not sure that this has any impact on participation, with the possible exception of Montréal and then, only marginally– as in a few dozen people. The consensus in Québec over divorce and gay marriage is overwhelming and the level surprises many of my US interlocutors (I don’t know where Sarah1 is writing from, but most of this blog’s readers are in the US)– indeed, same-sex marriage seems to only be opposed by Orthodox rabbis and a few Roman Catholic prelates– evangelical voices are too marginal here to consider. Among the many many francophones I know (including RC clergy), I am not aware of any in opposition. Opposition to the priestly ordination of women can only be found among the Orthodox (the Christian sort, mainly Arab Canadian in Québec) and RC prelates. Whether or not any of these things are Gospel issues is another matter, but I know Québec pretty well and I feel it safe to say that they are not seen to be so.

    The cultural presence of the RCs is quite strong but attendance is now very low (about 5%) and funerals and baptisms are the main use of their churches in attendance terms. Marriages less so, as many young people do not wish to go through the RC mandatory marriage courses and, of course, many marriages in Québec are now second or third. Cohabitation rates are 32% against 52% for married couples; the national rates are 17% to 67%.

    An interesting corollary of this is that, since same-sex marriage was introduced in 2006, Québec’s civil union provisions are now almost entirely used by heterosex couples who want the legal protections but do not wish to remarry on religious grounds, either because they are RCs (cohabitating divorcés, but sufficiently observant to respect the sacrament of marriage) or Orthodox Jews unable to obtain a rabbinic divorce.

    Anglicanism’s challenge (or curse) in Québec is that it sees itself, and is seen by pretty well everyone, as an anglophone chaplaincy. The Haitians are the only exception I see to this– the few hundred other francophone adherents are insufficient in number to make much of a difference. While life and history is full of surprises and unexpected things, I do not see any change in this coming.

  5. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “The consensus in Québec over divorce and gay marriage is overwhelming . . . ”

    Sure I get that.

    All I’m saying is that somebody like me transplanted into Quebec wouldn’t’ consider the Anglican Anglophone church as an option — and I’m in TEC!

    How much more so the Anglos who move there or have to live there for whatever reason, who are liturgically and sacramentally-minded, but simply unwilling to attend a church they deem to be opposed to the Gospel.

    All the reputation of a church that is Gay And Female does is simply narrow an already admittedly teensy teensy market.

  6. oursonpolaire says:

    I fear that new residents would then be driven either to the 25 anglophone RC parishes in Montréal or the 12 English-speaking Orthodox churches; in Québec City, there is but one anglophone RC non-territorial parish and it is not clear to me if any of the Orthodox churches there use English. In Trois Rivières (where Fr Samson is incumbent), the Anglican church there was sold to the city by the Diocese of Québec (as a bit of poetic justice, as it had been the Ursuline convent chapel under the ancienne régime, and was appropriated by the British authorities when they took the city); the city maintains it as a cultural centre which the Anglican parish might use as a worship centre ad perpetuam. There is an anglophone quasi-parish (S Patrick’s) in the RC diocese.

  7. MichaelA says:

    “as a bit of poetic justice, as it had been the Ursuline convent chapel under the ancienne régime”

    Not so much poetic justice as just the usual wages of liberalism. Compromising on the authority of scripture in order to fit in with the latest worldly fads (in this case ordination of women and of practicing homosexuals) is a sure-fire way to empty out churches. The Anglican Church of Canada has been steadily shrinking for decades, for that reason.

    Fr Sampson may bemoan the lack of a French-speaking witness, and its a good point per se, but there is no rational reason to think that the ACoC would do any better if it did have a French speaking witness in Quebec – that would just enable the local people to grasp even more quickly that the church lacked any compelling message that is worth hearing.