Pho To: SIMoN DUGUAY
mid-1960s during a cultural upset that would forever change the
course of our province’s history. The Quiet Revolution introduced
language protection laws, radically reduced the province’s steep
illiteracy rates and initiated a mass exodus from the Roman Catholic Church. Some of that exodus went on to populate the first
French evangelical churches of Quebec.
The 20- and 30-Somethings that fill the Gainzbar every Wednesday are part of the first generation of French Quebecois who
were raised in evangelical homes and churches.
Their ex-Catholic parents converted to born-again Christianity during what is referred to as the “réveil” [the awakening] of
the ’70s and ’80s. This particular group has taken a break from
formal Sunday morning worship in exchange for this community
gathering they have called “Echad.” It is – for all intents and purposes – a church launched by Simon Nadeau in 2009. Nadeau is
a second-generation Evangelical. His Catholic mother converted
in a Pentecostal Church in the early 1980s.
Nadeau has felt a disconnect between being Evangelical
and being Quebecois.
“Truthfully, I don’t think I had much contact with Quebecois
culture growing up. I didn’t listen to our music, didn’t read our
books,” he reflects. “My identity was predominantly evangelical,
which at the time meant more American even though I went
to church in French. All the music I listened to was Christian
American. I worked on changing that as I became an adult. I was
afraid that if I embraced my Quebecois culture, I would lose my
religious identity. But this needn’t be the case.”
He and his community are trying to relearn faith in everyday
life. “At Echad we look a lot at questions of incarnation – what
it means to incarnate Christ in culture and in life. We try to do
this without pretension.”
Their gatherings focus around what they call horizontal
sermons, group discussions led by speakers rather than lis-
tening to a preacher. Once a month they host a nonreligious
get together, like a concert or charity fundraiser, void of all
religious symbols and subjects, in an attempt to be inclusive
toward non-Christians. While Echad has opted to shed the
framework of traditional church, Nadeau points out the good
they have inherited from their evangelical upbringing. “My
childhood church demonstrated sincerity. They organized
charitable works and lived out fraternity and community. It’s
just that we chose an alternative framework to live out our
values and to study the teachings of Christ,” he says.
Echad is attempting to build a community somewhat on the
fringe of mainstream Evangelicalism, which is in and of itself
on the fringe of mainstream culture.