The roots of the Union of French Baptist Churches in Canada (Union d’Églises baptistes francophones du Canada) can be traced back to two Swiss missionaries – Henriette Feller and Louis Roussy, who arrived
in Quebec in the 1830s.
They settled in Saint-Jean, a rural area, ministering in
an environment where hostility toward these new Prot-
estants was extensive and at times,
Bringing a Protestant under-
standing of the gospel into such
a setting required strategy. These
pioneers began with door-to-door
distribution of literature and Bibles,
then placed an evangelist where a
small nucleus was birthed, and cre-
ated schools for children. Two of the churches begun by this
first generation are still part of the union, and continue to
worship and serve Jesus 170 years later!
Today the union is comprised of 34 churches spread
from Ottawa throughout the province of Quebec and into
The need that drew that first generation of pioneers
continues today. Many more church planters are needed
among the francophone populations in Quebec and New
According to the 2013 Christian Directory edited by
Christian Direction, there are 1,053 churches in Quebec,
half of which are concentrated in the Greater Montreal
area. But there’s an obvious problem: only 584 are French
speaking, to serve the entire francophone population. The
rest include 469 English-speaking churches, 200 Haitian
churches and 100 Hispanic churches.
The majority of French speakers remains outside the
present reach of a church – a serious need indeed.
The task is further complicated by an observable disconnect on two fronts. On one hand, we have a modern
society embedded in sheer ignorance or in clichéd perceptions of Christianity (for example, assuming the gospel is
We Need More light
The executive director of the Union of
french Baptist Churches in Canada
introduces another EfC affiliate family
powerless to transform lives and society). On the other
hand, the existing church here remains disconnected in
many respects from its calling to impact society.
The church among Canada’s francophones needs to
find, clarify and amplify its voice in today’s society. This
requires rehearsing and living out the power of the gospel
in both content and expression.
It also requires listening to the competing voices which
have already gained a wide audience. In doing so, we gain
credibility and open doors to opportunities for effective
There are encouraging signs that we are moving forward in this direction.
A recent initiative, the Réseau des Evangéliques du
Québec (Network of Evangelicals in Quebec), has brought
denominational leaders together, determined to place
God’s Kingdom, relationships, the
sharing of expertise, as well as the
capacity to speak with one voice
above personal interests.
A generation of younger church
planters is challenging Quebec’s
church to launch thousands of new
churches in the coming decade
Their enthusiasm is contagious and
their determination refreshing. The
union has committed to planting 20 new churches over the
Admittedly, ministry in French-speaking Canada often
feels much like riding into the wind, generating fatigue
and testing the resilience of many. It is evident that new
approaches to church planting are necessary. Our connectedness to society needs to be stronger and our compassion genuine.
As I see it the supportive role of English-speaking
Canada is still necessary. Its focus, however, should be
on providing expertise and resources for church planting
efforts and leadership training. Together we hope to create
networks of small teams willing to embark together on the
adventure of placing hundreds of new cities of light (Mat-
thew 5: 14) in the francophone landscape. FT
DaviD rOWlEY is executive director of the Union
of french Baptist Churches in Canada, a group of
This column series ( www.theEfC.ca/godatwork)
features affiliates of The Evangelical fellowship
of Canada. for a complete list of EfC affiliates
GodAt WorkInDenominations n BY DAVID ROWLEY
A generation of
younger church planters
is challenging Quebec’s
church to launch thousands
of new churches in
the coming decade.