My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I also blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
The views expressed in these blogs represent the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of any organizations with which they are associated.
R. A. Fyfe, Photo from the Canadian Baptist Archives
“Who are some heroes among the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ)”?
That was a question asked at a recent presentation I was making on the subject of Baptist history and polity. I was not happy with my weak answer, and since that time I wondered how I could redeem myself.
Lo and behold, the other day I came across an image of “Baptist Heroes of Canada” and thought my moment of redemption had come!
Fortunately, the same small book provided a sense of what Baptist women have accomplished. Image #3 provides a glimpse of some key women leaders within the CBOQ in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. Fortunately, each photo has a brief description of the leader’s title and years of service (but unfortunately the first name of some has been eclipsed by the style of identification of that day). Note how women were organized around missions, both home and foreign. Their contributions to the life of the denomination – including foreign missions in the heyday of nineteenth-century Protestant missions – was vital to the success of the CBOQ. And if you are looking for a roster of heroes of the faith, your quest will be fulfilled by looking at the history of women in the CBOQ.
In conclusion, while Baptists would not have called such people in the past “saints” they did recognize the value of knowing about the lives of those heroes of previous generations. Lawrence S. Cunningham writes that the lives of the saints (or heroes) “were part and parcel of the spiritual formation of serious Christians from the time of antiquity.” Baptists would have agreed with that conviction, for looking back was a way to gain wisdom for today but also inspiration for the future. As Our Baptist Fellowship concludes (See Image #4):
“The past is what it is. We cannot change it. In some respects it has been very splendid. Can we make the future as satisfactory as the past? Can we match the men of the earlier time? Can we preachers do it? What mighty men of the Word our churches had in Gilmour, Fraser, McPhail, Higgins, Davidson, Fyfe, Dempsey, Anderson, and King! Will the laymen of today prove equal to such pioneers as Edwards, Tucker, Cameron, Beam, Kilborn, Dayfoot, Buchan, Moyle, and Shenstone? Will the men of means measure up in the their giving to such benefactors as Ayer, Claxton, Tucker, Lailey, Stark, Harris, Craig, Burtch, and McMaster?
Will the legal profession yield us men of wisdom like Holman, Thomson, and Scott?
Will our leaders in public life match some of those in the past like McKenzie, Boyd, Sinclair, and Dryden?
Will our executive positions be filled by men like Castle, Davidson, Grant and McEwen?
As to the rank and file of our membership, what may we expect? We may idealize those of the past, but what of ourselves? What is the general spirit, the measure of our devotion, and the purpose which moves us now?”
 It was called the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (BCOQ) at that time.
 http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/fyfe_robert_alexander_10E.html; Theo T. Gibson, Robert Alexander Fyfe: His Contemporaries and His Influence(Welch, 1988).
 Sharon Bowler, ed., Canadian Baptist Women (Eugene: Pickwick, 2016); Esther Barnes, Our Heritage Becomes Our Challenge – A Scrapbook History of the Baptist Women’s Movement in Ontario and Quebec (Etobicoke, ON: Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec, 2013).
 Lawrence S. Cunningham, A Brief History of Saints (Malden: Blackwell, 2005), 136.