Integrating Immigrants into the Life of Canadian Urban Christian Congregations: Findings from a National Survey
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In just one generation the cultural face of Canadian society has been transformed. The relative level of immigration has increased rapidly as has diversity among those immigrants. This article reports on the findings of a national survey that offers a baseline of how and to what extent local Canadian Christian congregations are responding to this cultural diversity. In particular, it explores how churches are integrating immigrants within the life of their local congregations. This article uses a systems change perspective to frame immigrant integration. This perspective emphasizes three requirements for change: vision, structure and processes that promote immigrant integration. Data was collected using an online survey of urban congregations in the nine urban Canadian communities having an immigrant population above the national average (20% foreign-born). Using these data this article explores the full range of immigrant integration efforts from the initial welcome to inclusion into congregational life. It describes the present status of immigrant integration, details reported successes and challenges and notes respondent suggestions for better integration. Results of this survey provide first-time baseline insights into how a range of urban Christian congregations from across Canada are presently responding to the Canadian immigrant reality.
KeywordsImmigration Urban Christianity Cultural diversity Integration Systems change theory Canada
The survey reported in this article was part of a larger study entitled: Welcoming Churches: Responding to the Immigrant Reality in Canada. The project was funded by World Vision Canadian Programs and carried out in partnership with the Centre for Community Based Research and the Tyndale Intercultural Ministry (TIM) Centre. The authors would like to thank the project advisory committee members for their contributions to the survey design, implementation and analysis (see: http://www.communitybasedresearch.ca/Page/View/Churches_Responding_to_the_Immig.html for list of advisory committee members and for more details of the project). We would also like to thank Dr. Jonathan Lomotey, Centre for Community Based Research for his assistance with the statistical analysis.
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