The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada is one of the larger evangelical denominations in the country and is the second largest of the five Baptist movements in Canada. It includes over 500 churches with a total Sunday morning attendance of over 80,000. The churches of the Fellowship stretch from Whitehorse, Yukon to the tip of Nova Scotia. The French language churches number 80+ with worship services across Canada being held in over 15 languages. The official publication is Thrive magazine, available in print and online, and is produced three times a year in both English and French.
The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada was formed in 1953 by merging two pre-existing regional groups: the Union of Regular Baptist Churches on Ontario and Quebec (founded in 1927) and the Fellowship of Independent Baptist Churches (1933). Rev. W. H. MacBain and Rev. Norman W. Pipe were the first Presidents of the Fellowship. To this enlarged Fellowship, based in Ontario, two pre-existing regional groups in the west were added: The regular Baptist Missionary Fellowship of Alberta joined the Fellowship in 1963 and the Convention of Regular Baptist Churches of British Columbia was received in 1965. Seventy of our churches (some more than 100 years old) had formerly belonged to the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec but took a stand for the supernatural work of Christ and the authority and inspiration of the Bible during the “Modernist” controversy of the 1920s. McMaster University was the storm centre at that time. Thirteen churches associated with Dr. T.T. Shields were voted out of the Convention for “non-cooperation” and others left in sympathy for a clear-cut evangelical position. At that time in Western Canada, Evangelical Baptists withdrew from the Baptist Union of Western Canada because of the “Modernist” controversy in Brandon College.
Between 1947 and 1955 a number of Evangelical Baptist workers were imprisoned for holding street meetings and distributing literature in the Province of Quebec. Jailing occurred in Rouyn, Amos, and Asbestos. The total amount of time served by these workers would add up to approximately seven years consecutively. The French Mission of our Fellowship celebrated 50 years of ministry in Quebec in 2008 and was retired in 2014 with the French Region taking up the sole responsibility of church planting in their Region.
The Fellowship grew steadily from its inception in 1953 into the mid-1980s. Then it began to level off and seek new initiatives for revitalization. Fellowship Vision 2000, a 10-year strategy for developing strong, reproducing local churches, was implemented in 1990 after some slippage had occurred. Over the decade, 87 new churches were started. A new Ministry Plan was launched in 2000 encouraging our churches to seek spiritual renewal, grow healthy churches, and plant churches strategically. In order to implement this vision, the CLC (Covenant Leadership Community) was formed consisting of key Fellowship personnel from across Canada, representing national and Regional ministries as well as local churches. Though its aggressive goals were not fully accomplished, the efforts of the CLC clearly resulted in better working relationships across the Fellowship.
In 2007, a fresh vision was introduced with significant structural changes. The National Council adopted a new governance model and national agencies were disbanded. Special national meetings with Regional representation took place in 2010 to further clarify and define the roles of National and Regional ministries. Regions are to deliver to our member churches ministries that support church health, leadership development, and church multiplication. National serves our Regions and churches through our International, Francophone, and Chaplaincy ministries along with other support services not offered by our Regions (i.e. pensions, health plan, etc.). By the end of the decade a renewed effort for church health and church multiplication resulted in fruit with over 40 churches planted in Canada and beyond in 2011-2012.
The churches of the Fellowship are vitally interested in missions. Many Fellowship members are serving the Lord among different cultures in both Canada and other lands with various agencies. Fellowship ministries such as Fellowship International, the Fellowship Francophone ministry, and Fellowship Chaplaincy, provide opportunities for missionaries to serve in close relationship to our churches.
In 2014, a two year cross-Canada task was completed with the formation of a mission document called, We are the Fellowship. Hundreds of leaders were involved in the preparation of this mission, vision, values identity document that captures who we are and what we do as an entire movement. Watch the brief video at www.wearethefellowship.ca. We are a movement of churches making passionate disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our motto as a Fellowship is: Serve. Unite. Thrive.
The local church is God’s gift to our nation. The local church is the hope of the world. The Fellowship’s future is a bright and hopeful one as we continue to establish prevailing churches throughout Canada and beyond. We give thanks for the faithful and fruitful days of the Fellowship in the past, and we humbly ask the Lord of the harvest to grant us renewal in the future to the expansion of His Kingdom and the praise of His glory.