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History of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada

The Christian and Missionary Alliance grew out of the vision of Rev. Albert Benjamin Simpson, who was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1865 and became the pastor in one of Canada’s most prestigious pulpits. During the next number of years the Holy Spirit revolutionized his life, making him more passionate for the souls of the poor and neglected people at home and around the world.

In 1887, compelled by a sense of urgency to take the message of Jesus Christ to all nations, Simpson was used by God to give birth to The Christian and Missionary Alliance. It was only natural that his vision should extend to Canada. Many of the leaders in those first years were Canadians. The first Alliance church in Canada was Bethany Tabernacle, founded by John Salmon in Toronto in 1887.

Dr. William Cassidy, a Toronto medical doctor, was the first ordained missionary in the new mission society. He died of smallpox enroute to China. However, his death was the “spark that ignited the Alliance missionary blaze,’ which has burned to this day.

By the 1920s the C&MA became a major evangelical movement, both in the United States and Canada. In Canada, saddle-bag preachers visited the homesteads of the West, and evangelists conducted campaigns in the East, bringing many people to Christ. By 1926 there were 19 “branches” in eastern and central Canada and four in western Canada. The growth in the church in the 1930s was in direct contrast to the depression experienced by the entire country.

In 1941 the Western Canadian Bible Institute was opened in Regina as a direct result of the need for trained workers.

Aiden Wilson Tozer served pastorates across the United States, including 30 years in Chicago. He became known as a writer with a wider evangelical audience and his writings continue to influence Christians around the world. His final pastorate was at the Avenue Road Church in Toronto, Ontario. From there, his sermons and writings greatly impacted Canadians in the post World War II years.

Throughout the early years the C&MA in Canada was governed by the Alliance in the United States. An autonomous Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada came a giant step closer at the founding Assembly held in Winnipeg in June 1980. A constitution was adopted, a president elected, and a Board of Directors chosen in preparation for full Canadian autonomy January 1, 1981. The two organizations, from Canada and the U.S., maintain a close cooperative relationship today.

Over the past 30 plus years the Canadian C&MA has had four presidents: Mel Sylvester (1980-1992), Arnold Cook (1992-2000), Franklin Pyles (2000-2012) and David Hearn (2012-present).  We have grown from 241 to more than 440 churches.