IN CANADA TODAY
Today in Canada those who join the
movement do so through already
established WCTU chapters in
their parishes. While chapters
focus on prevention, they also
contribute to work overseas.
Jean Freeman, the Canadian
WCTU president, attends a Free
Methodist church in Godfrey, Ont.
She joined 30 years ago after attending a convention.
“Someone nominated my name
for president of the district!” she
says. “I told them, ‘I have to go
home and pray about it.’ That’s
how I became involved. I never
would have joined if it did not have
Christian in the name. It had
Members must pledge complete
abstinence from alcohol and addict-
ive drugs – a hard sell these days.
“Always from childhood I saw
that if I did use alcohol or tobacco,
I knew it was going to hurt me,”
Freeman says. “It’s different now.
Most people do not consider total
abstinence. What they advocate is
Desiree Lanigan, 56, of Ayr, Ont.,
is now a Canadian WCTU vice-
president after serving as secretary
for the world organization from
2013 to 2016.
“The work in Canada has been
dwindling over the years,” she says.
There used to be a WCTU presence
in every province, but now mem-
bership is concentrated in Ontario,
with some members in Saskatch-
ewan. “We need new members!”
While the work shrinks in North
America, it’s been growing in Pacif-
ic Island nations where Korean
missionaries have played a big role,
Lanigan became involved in 1985
when her husband became pastor
of the Church of the Nazarene in
Cambridge, Ont. She thought of
starting a women’s ministry there,
but discovered many women were
already “so involved and dedicated”
to the WCTU, she decided to join.
A mother of seven, Lanigan loved
the WCTU’s focus on “home protection,” not only from the effects of
alcohol, but also domestic violence
and fetal alcohol syndrome. She
applauds the attention it pays now
to rampant problems such as online
pornography and cyberbullying.
The WCTU not only attracts
lifelong teetotalers, but also those
who have experienced alcohol
abuse in their families.
Ruth Chiles, a Wesleyan Methodist from Napanee, Ont., remembered going to school in the 1960s
where she lost friends to drug and
alcohol use, including one who
died of a drug overdose.
She married an alcoholic who
eventually quit drinking. They had
many happy years together after he
became sober, but now, “I am reaping the aftereffects,” she says. “Today
he is a dementia patient because of
the alcoholic drinking for so long.”
Some are making efforts to help
younger generations pick up the
message. A pastor at Grace of God
Church of the Nazarene in Toronto
sent six young people ranging from
12 to 28 to the convention.
“As young Christians we’re faced
with a lot of situations of tempta-
tion – in school, at work, through
social media,” says Sarai Moreno,
15. Attending the convention
opened her eyes to how WCTU has
not only proclaimed the gospel, but
also helped youth by informing
them “how harmful drugs and alco-
hol can be.”
Joshua Quiroz, 16, says half his
schoolmates do drugs and alcohol.
“I have been tempted many times,”
he says. “It tests my faith a lot. Each
day I get hounded – ‘ Why don’t I do
it?’ I pray to God I don’t give in to
He was grateful for the teaching
at the convention. “It builds up my
spiritual strength and connection,”
he says. “We learned a lot.” /FT
Deborah Gyapong is a journalist and
novelist in Ottawa.
Canadian first vice-president Desiree Lanigan, who completed
a three-year term as world secretary, says the WCTU needs to
attract new members.
Grace of God Church of the Nazarene in Toronto sent six young
people ranging from 12 to 28 to the convention.
Members of the Canadian delegation to the W WCTU
convention in Ottawa this August.