Rev. Yves Samson, a minister of the Anglican Church of Quebec, said in a recent interview with CBC News that without change his church will die out in the largely French-speaking province of Canada. "If we want to keep going on (the old) track we will all die," Samson said after completing a liturgy at St. James Anglican Church in Trois-Rivières that featured a sermon in French and English. Other Protestant denominations have closed their doors rather than offer bilingual services in Quebec. Offering bilingual and ecumenical services is a “new reality”, said Samson, for the English-speaking Protestant churches of Quebec outside of metropolitan areas.
English-speaking Quebeckers are becoming scarce. Currently, Anglophones living in Trois Rivieres and Quebec City now make up but make up about one per cent of the population. In contrast, Quebec City was once almost 40 percent Anglophone. In nearby Sherbrooke, less than five per cent of its residents speak English at home. In the 1860s that number was almost 60 per cent.
The Anglican Church came with the British invasion and defeat of France in 1759. British power replaced the French in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada following the exile of thousands of French-speaking Catholics from the maritime provinces of Canada known collectively as Acadie. These exiles became the Cajun people of southern Louisiana. Fortunately, the Quebec Act of 1774 provided the people of Quebec with their first Charter of Rights and later granted freedom of religion and thus allowed the Catholic Church to remain in Quebec. The Act also officially recognized French language and culture. The act also allowed French-speaking Canadians to maintain French civil law.
The history of the United States is involved too: George Washington led a border raid into Canada in 1775 before the American Revolution in an effort to wrest Quebec from British control. With the subsequent war, Loyalists (who were largely Anglican) fled the nascent United States for Canada where they upset the delicate political and cultural balance of Quebec.
The bitter memory of British invasion and cultural supremacy continues today among French-speakers. The conflict known to Americans as The French and Indian War, is known to Anglophone Canadians as The Seven Years War. Francophones called it La guerre de la Conquête (The War of Conquest).
The Anglican Diocese of Quebec reported in 2014 that its prospects for the future are cloudy, at best. Almost half of the Anglican parishes in the province have fewer than 10 regular services a year. Almost 80 percent of its churches have an average regular attendance of 25 people or less. In 2012, forty-five percent of its parishes had a deficit, while 64 percent of its congregations said that within five years they will be closed or amalgamated. Observers within the church see a need for radical change it Anglican ethos and structures.
The exodus of Quebecker Anglophones has hurt other Protestant denominations besides the Anglican Church. Some local Anglophones complain that there are no jobs or opportunities for them in the French-speaking province. Others say they would rather see their churches close their doors than offer services in French. Even while he does not believe that Anglicans will re-establish themselves outside of metropolitan areas, Rev. Samson called for Quebeckers to consider joining the Anglican Church because it offers what he believes they are looking for in a church: participation of women, as well as homosexuals, as ordained ministers. In the interview, Rev. Samson said, “Im a gay priest and I was ordained in the church and I never lied about it to anyone."
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