Running away from religion

In Montreal’s secular culture, many native Canadians see no need for faith. Immigrants ‘are readier to hear about God,’ minister Roger Saumur says.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

MONTREAL — Montreal’s heart has grown cold to the Gospel.

The largest French-speaking city in North America can be a lonely place to be a Christian.

“Our society, it’s secular,” said Horald Shabanaj, an Albanian immigrant and member of the Ville-Émard Church of Christ in the Quebec city. “People don’t care about God. There is a strong temptation to do things other than coming to church.”

A 2016 article in The Economist characterized Quebec this way: “The Catholic heritage is everywhere, in street names, monuments and church buildings which often have been converted to secular use. But Catholic practice has plummeted. The province’s main metropolis, Montreal, is as non-religious a place as any in secular Europe.”

While 75 percent of the province’s people still identify as Catholic, only 11 percent say they are regular worshipers, the article noted.

It’s against this backdrop that the Ville-Émard Church of Christ ministers. That’s “Église du Christ” in French, as the sign out front proclaims above spray-painted graffiti.

The church meets in a one-time funeral home a few doors down from a Hindu temple and across the street from a Vietnamese restaurant. There’s a Tim Hortons, the quintessential Canadian coffee and doughnut shop, at the corner.

The close-knit congregation, five minutes from downtown and close to a subway station, brings together Christians of about 15 nationalities, from Chinese to Haitian to Ukrainian.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the August 2018 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Related: ‘The way to the heart’ (reporting from Winnipeg, Manitoba): Canada’s largest Church of Christ brings together Christians of various nationalities.