By Phyllis D. Airhart
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Additional resources for A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada
Those described by the local newspaper as the most active lay leaders had been staunch supporters of the union movement, but when the votes were counted, more members sided with their anti-unionist minister. And so a small group of pro-union Presbyterians gathered for worship without pulpit or organ in a Sunday school room provided by the neighbouring Methodists. Feeling that they had been driven from the church, they reportedly sought consolation by turning to their Presbyterian past with its stories of their forebears in Scotland who had resisted political and religious tyranny.
Novelty was not the only charge brought against the church union movement; it was also dogged by criticism that efficiency was uppermost in the minds of its supporters and theology of comparatively little consequence. Detractors missed an important theological conviction that unionists shared: that the great truths of Christianity could be framed in terms of a common faith. indb 21 2013-10-31 14:12:58 22 A Church with the Soul of a Nation offended to hear their work described as a reflection of the theological idiom of their day; after all, they were not attempting to write a creed for all time but for their own time.
Instead he provoked a crisis. Anglican clergy were reluctant to administer the sacraments in Methodist chapels, a disturbing turn of events for those who believed, as did Wesley, in the importance of Communion. Even more pressing were the needs of Methodist societies in North America after the American Revolution disrupted the work of churches with British ties. Faced with these practical difficulties, Wesley decided to ordain some lay preachers for the chapels and to consecrate Thomas Coke as superintendent for the mission in North America.
A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada by Phyllis D. Airhart