Canadian Churches and the First World War

By Gordon L. Heath (editor)

Essays on the responses of the Canadian churches to the First World War, providing an introduction to a neglected area of Canadian social and religious history.

ISBN: 9780718893583


Most accounts of Canada and the First World War either ignore or merely mention in passing the churches’ experience. Canadian Churches and the First World War redresses this surprising neglect, exploring the marked relationship between Canada’s ‘Great War’ and its various churches in intricate detail.

The authors of this volume provide a detailed summary of various Christian traditions and the war, both synthesising and furthering previous research. In addition to examining the experience of Roman Catholics (English and French speaking), Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Mennonites, and Quakers, there are chapters on precedents formed during the South African War, the work of military chaplains, and the roles of church women on the home front.

Reprinted in the centenary year of the conflict’s outbreak, these essays act as a sobering reminder of the devastating impact the Great War had on Canada – and the rest of the world – in the early twentieth century. It will inspire those with a keen interest in theological, military and women’s history, along with academics and students whose areas of research cover the monumental events of 1914-18.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 310

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Gordon L. Heath (PhD, St Michael’s College) is Associate Professor of Christian History at McMaster Divinity College, where he holds the Centenary Chair in World Christianity and serves as Director of the Canadian Baptist Archives. His publications include A War with a Silver Lining: Canadian Protestant Churches and the South African War, 1899-1902 (2009), and Doing Church History: A User-friendly Introduction to Researching the History of Christianity (2008). He is co-author with Stanley E. Porter of the The Lost Gospel of Judas: Separating Fact from Fiction (2007). He has also recently co-edited Canadian Baptists and Public Life (2012) and Baptism: Historical, Theological and Pastoral Perspectives (2011).


List of Illustrations

1. The South African War as Prelude to the First World War
     Gordon L. Heath
2. “We are all involved in the same issue”: Canada’s English-Speaking Catholics and the Great War
     Mark G. McGowan
3. French-Speaking Catholics in Quebec and the First World War
     Simon Jolivet
4. “Khaki has become a sacred colour”: The Methodist Church and the Sanctification of World War One
     David B. Marshall
5. For Empire and God: Canadian Presbyterians and the Great War
     Stuart Macdonald
6. The Anglican Church and the Great War
     Melissa Davidson
7. “O God of Battles”: The Canadian Baptist Experience of the Great War
     Michael A. G. Haykin and Ian Hugh Clary
8. Canadian Lutherans and the First World War
     Norm Threinen
9. Quakers and Mennonites and the Great War
     Robynne Rogers Healey
10. Dismissed: Military Chaplains and Canadian Great War History
     Duff Crerar
11. Paying “the price of war”: Canadian Women and the Churches on the Home Front
     Lucille Marr

Name Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


Endorsements and Reviews

The churches were one of Canada’s most comprehensive social institutions in the early 20th century. Their response to the Great War dramatically affected how the nation (and they) would survive the monumental challenge. Subverted and sidelined by the rampant ideological crosscurrents of the 20th century, that story is at last well told in these eleven finely nuanced, thoroughly documented essays.
Richard Allen, McMaster University, Canada

The eleven articles that Gordon L. Heath has collected depict the effort of Canadian churches, their chaplains, and women to cope with a world war … the articles are provocative and full of compassion for those who served, died, remained at home grieving, and … refused to go to the killing fields.
Terence J. Fay, University of St Michael’s College, Canada

This article gives an exquisite insight into the stance of the Canadian churches during the First World War.
Martin Grechat, in Theologische Literatur Zeitung, Jahrgang 141, Heft 4

It would be unfortunate if this comprehensive and well-written collection of essays were seen only as rectifying an omission for students of Canadian religion. For those with an interest, historical or conteporary, in how churches respond to international conflict, make ethical decisions in a crisis, or engage with the government, Canadian Chruches and the First World War offers many valuable insights.
Stuart Bell, in Wesley and Methodist Studies, Vol 8, No 1

Canadian Churches and the First World War, edited by the historian Gordon L. Heath, is an ground-breaking collection of essays.
Jan Marten Ivo Klaver, in The Heythrop Journal, Vol 59, Issue 2