The Presbyterian Church in Canada is founded on the teachings of the New Testament, both in its theology and its form of church government. The word “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek for “elder” and refers to the governance of the church by Teaching Elders (ministers) and an equal number of Ruling Elders (persons ordained to rule, but not to a sacramental ministry). Its theology is called “reformed,” meaning that it belongs to the body of churches that the Reformation gave rise to in seeking to recover the teachings of Scripture.
Presbyterianism accompanied the earliest explorers and settlers to Canada, drawing its ministers and membership first from France and later from the British Isles. The Scottish influence was pre-eminent from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
In 1875, various Presbyterian bodies joined together to form The Presbyterian Church in Canada. In 1925, approximately 60 percent of the membership joined Methodists and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada.
In 2019, The Presbyterian Church in Canada has 1,374 ministers and 829 congregations, encompassing 82,457 communicant members and a national budget of $131.4 million.
Denominational headquarters of The Presbyterian Church in Canada are located at:
The National Presbyterian Museum is a sub-committee of the General Assembly’s Committee on History, the body responsible for encouraging the writing and distribution of works on Canadian Presbyterianism, the awarding of annual history prizes for excellence in the research and writing of Canadian Presbyterian History, and the publication of the pamphlet, Presbyterian History. The committee actively supports the Oral History project, the microfilming of documents and the collection of artifacts and materials for the Archives and Museum.
Contact the Convener for The Committee on History:
The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives collects, preserves and makes available records of the church, its officials, ministers, congregations and organizations (for example, baptism, marriage and death records). This is a multi-media archives with records dating back to 1796. A reading room equipped with microfilm reader-printer is available for the use of researchers. For information contact the Archivist Ms. Kim Arnold, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in the denomination’s centennial year in 1975, the Canadian Society of Presbyterian History meets annually in Knox College, Toronto, on the last Saturday of September. Lectures are delivered that relate to some facet of Canadian Presbyterianism and which are later published. Membership is $55 a year and includes copies of the research papers.
For further information, please contact:
President: Dr. Stuart Macdonald Knox College 59 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2E6 Tel.: (416) 978-2782 E-mail:email@example.com
Secretary: Ian Mason 3066 Brigden Road Brigden, ON, N0N 1B0 Tel.: (519) 864-1119 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Selected books on Canadian Presbyterian History
Available from the Museum are a few volumes dealing with the history of the denomination. The definitive history is entitled Enduring Witness by John Moir. Another useful resource is a collection of papers edited by the same author entitled, Early Presbyterianism in Canada. There is also a series of four volumes entitled Called to Witness, containing biographies of leading Presbyterians, two volumes of Gifts and Graces, a very popular series examining Presbyterian women who have contributed to life in Canada through their professions. Contact the PCHC to order any of these books.