Resurrection of Canadian Churches Fuelled by Immigration

Many experts believe that immigration may fuel everything from economic prosperity to a richer culture to more innovation across various industries. In Canada, some experts have also been stating that immigration may be providing a spiritual boost as well. According to a recent news article in the Calgary Herald, while many churches across Canada face dropping attendance, those churches with a strong immigrant congregation are in fact experiencing a renewal.

According to the news article, some churches in Canada are providing services specifically for new arrivals, offering services in English as well as in other languages. Reginald Bibby, a University of Lethbridge sociologist, says that Christianity is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world and churches that cater to immigrants as well as more diverse congregations may in fact represent the future of the religion, especially as Christianity grows in places such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Immigrants arriving in Canada from these areas of the world may turn to churches for spiritual sustenance as well as for a place of community and for social help.

According to some studies in Catholic churches in Canada, non-Canadian born Catholics are 39%-64% more likely to attend mass at least once monthly, when compared with Canadian-born Catholics. As more and more immigrants enter Canada, it is likely that this number will rise, especially since studies suggest that many people already arrive in Canada as Christians. Others arrive in Canada with other faiths but are converted to a faith.

In some cases, such as Pentecostalism, there is a strong faith-based push towards conversion. In other cases, such as Catholicism there is no emphasis on conversion but newcomers are converted into the faith through family or friendship. Despite this, there is some debate about the long-term effects of immigration on churches in Canada. Specifically, there is little research that would suggest how immigration will affect churches after several generations. Are the children and grandchildren of immigrants less likely to be devout when compared with newcomers?

Many churches in Canada are less worried about that concern at the moment. Instead, some churches are offering multiple language services, hiring bilingual church priests and pastors, and are organizing youth outreach groups and other groups to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. At the same time, churches continue to offer the family services and spiritual services they have always offered, even as they lend a helping hand to newcomers.