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Christian Leaders Connection
Dr. Rick Hiemstra presented on faith trends in Canada
Conference guests were surprised by some statistics

It may be difficult to understand what motivates a faith group to act a certain way. We could all use some help to understand the faith trends affecting Canadian culture today.

On Thursday, Mar. 25, Providence College and Seminary, along with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), presented a special event for ministry and business leaders: the Christian Leaders Connection: Being Evangelical in a Complex World.

“The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada gathers evangelicals together for impact, influence and identity in ministry and public witness,” says Charlene de Haan, Manager of Educational Services for the EFC. “For almost a decade the EFC has been offering Christian Leaders Connection events in cities across Canada with the goal of informing pastors and lay leaders of current issues and opportunities facing ministry and marketplace leaders, while encouraging one another to focus on God’s mission. This year’s theme, Being Evangelical in a Complex World, addresses how we link our understanding of societal trends with our faith in God’s purposes and translate it into action.”

Rick Hiemstra, M.A., was one featured presenter at the conference. Hiemstra is the director of the EFC's Centre for Research on Canadian Evangelicalism, which tracks trends in Canadian society and in Canadian Evangelicalism. He also creates resources for church and ministry leaders, media and government.

“Hiemstra presented a large amount of data related to trends in
churches and religion in Canada,” said Dr. David Johnson, executive vice president and provost for Providence, who took in the conference yesterday. “Some of the more notable observations were that the immigrant population is having a huge impact on the religious demographics of Canada. In particular the percentage of teenagers that identify with a non-Christian religion is rising as is the percentage that identify with no religion at all.”

Hiemstra’s research is based on figures from Statistics Canada, Ipsos Reid, and other sources.

“Those that identify with either protestant or catholic faiths is declining,” reported Dr. Johnson. “Teenagers that self-identify as Protestants are tending to be more involved in church. So while those who identify as Protestants are declining, those that so identify themselves are more committed than in the past.”

Approximately 30 people attended the conference, which also reported on topics like charitable giving, volunteering, social networking, and that “time stress" among Canadian adults is increasing. The attendees were from Winnipeg and southern Manitoba, and from as far away as Dawson City, Yukon.

“[Many attendees] were surprised by the how easy it is to access Statistics Canada information,” said Dr. Johnson, “[and that it can be so] useful for church ministry.”

Other speakers included Don Hutchinson, Vice-President, General Legal Counsel for the EFC, and Director, Centre for Faith and Public Life; as well as Aileen Van Ginkel, Vice President, Ministry Services for the EFC.

"Don Hutchinson and the Centre for Public Life in Ottawa are doing a lot of work on addressing policies that affect freedom, whether academic or policy (such as hiring practices)," said Dr. Gus Konkel, president of Providence College and Seminary, who observed Hutchinson's session on Thursday afternoon, "[This is] something of significant interest to churches."

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