Review of Religious Research

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 495–513 | Cite as

Christian Churches and Immigrant Support in Canada: An Organizational Ecology Perspective

  • Sam Reimer
  • Mark Chapman
  • Rich Janzen
  • James Watson
  • Michael Wilkinson
Original Paper


Canada receives roughly 250,000 immigrants each year, and the government spends considerable resources on assisting them to settle and integrate into Canadian society through the agencies they support. Most of these new immigrants settle in Canada’s largest cities, where churches meet specific needs that extend beyond the capacities of government agencies. In smaller centers, churches cover a wide range of services because few government supports are available. Little is known about the work of churches in Canada in spite of their importance to immigrant settlement and integration. In this study, we examine the services offered to immigrants by Canadian Christian churches. We show how the service provision of Christian churches is constrained by other organizations and groups in their environment, in ways consonant with the organizational ecology framework. Specifically, churches service the needs of immigrants by adapting to specific niche needs and by filling in gaps left by other service providers.


Immigrant settlement Christian churches Canada Refugees 



We wish to thank Kevin Dougherty and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on previous drafts of this manuscript. The study reported in this article was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Development Grant. More information about the research partnership (including participating partners) can be found at


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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam Reimer
    • 1
  • Mark Chapman
    • 2
  • Rich Janzen
    • 3
  • James Watson
    • 4
  • Michael Wilkinson
    • 5
  1. 1.Crandall UniversityMonctonCanada
  2. 2.Tyndale SeminaryTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Community Based ResearchWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.The Salvation ArmyTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Trinity Western UniversityLangleyCanada

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