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After Evangelicalism
Kevin Flatt's new book explores recent history of the United Church of Canada
2 min. read
July 16, 2013

The United Church of Canada underwent a radical transformation during the 1960s. In his new book After Evangelicalism – The Sixties and the United Church of Canada (2013: McGill-Queen’s University Press), Dr. Kevin Flatt argues that the key component of this reinvention was the church cutting the remaining ties to its evangelical past, leading to a severe decline in its membership. Flatt, assistant professor of history at Redeemer, has been studying the United Church of Canada (UCC) for many years, and this book began with research he did for his PhD thesis. He contends that although United Church leaders had already abandoned evangelical beliefs three decades earlier, it was only in the 1960s that rapid cultural shifts prompted the sudden dismantling of the church’s evangelical programs and identity. Delving deep into the United Church’s archives, Flatt uncovers behind-the-scenes developments that led to revolutionary and controversial changes in the church’s evangelistic campaigns, educational programs, moral stances, and theological image. Not only did these changes evict evangelicalism from the United Church, but they helped trigger the denomination’s ongoing numerical decline and decisively changed Canada’s religious landscape. Flatt notes that the Canadian religious crisis of the 1960s went beyond Quebec and its Quiet Revolution. In the book he explores what was happening to other Canadian mainline Protestant denominations such as the Anglican and Presbyterian churches. He also compares the decline in membership of these denominations with the rapid growth of evangelical churches such as those in the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Flatt hopes that the book is instructive. “The UCC had evangelical roots,” he notes. “It is now one of Canada’s most theologically liberal denominations. It is also the denomination that is experiencing the fastest decline in membership across Canada. There are lessons to be learned for other denominations.” After Evangelicalism is available at the Redeemer Campus Bookstore and amazon.ca.

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