The Committee on History firmly believes in the importance of preserving Presbyterian history right across the country. We know, as well, that preservation of church records is a legal requirement of our denomination. Our history is alive in the buildings in which we worship, in the beauty of our stained glass windows, in our books, records and other artifacts. Preserving them is another way in which we Presbyterians can be good stewards, standing behind our faith and ready to pass all of these things on to the generations who will follow us.
The Committee has always had a close connection with the Archives. Until the restructuring of 50 Wynford Drive in 1993, the Archives and Archivist were the direct responsibility of the Committee. With the Archives and Records Office now coming under the General Assembly Office, the Committee on History now maintains a connection through an advisory role. The Committee Convener sits as a member of the Archives Committee and the Archivist/Records Administrator sits as a ex-officio member of the Committee on History.
The Reformation @ 500
The Reformation @ 500 is a five year celebration of why the Reformation matters in the first decades of the 21st century, 500 years after Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg. The Reformation had five mottos called “solas” because in Latin each of the watchwords used the word sola or a variation of sola. “Sola” means “only” or “alone”. They are: sola gratia, sola fides, sola Scriptura, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria (grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, and for God’s glory alone).
The Reformation @ 500 will bring together theological teachers and ministry practitioners in a series of one-day conversations about the solas. Through the five events held over five years, we anticipate discovering the solas are robust enough even 500 years after their first being introduced to speak to contemporary culture.
Each Reformation @ 500 gathering, held in the fall of each year, will focus on a different sola. The gatherings will be held in different locations throughout the country between 2013 and 2017.
The Reformation @ 500 gatherings are free of charge and lunch will provided to those who attend in person. There will also be the ability to participate via the Internet as the events will be live streamed. Both those who participate in person and those participating via the net will be able to engage with the speaker during the Q&A opportunities. For a free password to the live stream, please contact Peter Bush at five [dot] solas [at] live [dot] com.
Sola Gratia – Saturday, Nov. 2
The first Reformation @ 500 event, focusing on sola gratia (grace alone), took place on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 in the chapel of St. Andrew’s Hall, Vancouver, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (PDT).
Keynote speakers were Frances Savill, Pastor, Richmond Presbyterian Church, Richmond, BC and R. Paul Stevens, author and theological educator. Panelists included Bruce Cairnie, Chaplain, Correctional Services Canada; Stephen Farris, Dean, St. Andrew’s Hall and author of Grace: A Preaching Commentary; Mary Fontaine, Director, Hummingbird Ministries, Vancouver; and Diane Stinton, Associate Professor, Mission Studies, Regent College, Vancouver.
This initiative is presented by the Committee on History, The Presbyterian Church in Canada and is supported by a bequest to The Presbyterian Church in Canada and a grant from the Ewart Endowment.
Presbyterian History Newsletter
Presbyterian History, a newsletter of the Committee on History, contains articles on various aspects of the history of our church and is published twice a year. The current editor is the Rev. Peter Bush, who is always looking for articles in the 2,000 word range.
The Committee has been actively involved in many projects over the years, such as:
- Producing Communion Tokens in Centennial year in 1975.
- Publishing four volumes of Called to Witness – biographical sketches of prominent Presbyterians.
- The Presbyterian Church Index – This project was commenced in 1994 by Michael Millar to compile a list of every Canadian Presbyterian congregation and minister since the 18th century.
- Publishing 2 volumes of Gifts & Graces, edited by Dr. John Moir – biographical sketches of prominent Presbyterian women.
- Active Evangelism – A conference hosted by the Committee was held at Knox College on May 24 and 25, 2002.
- Publishing Remembering Your Heritage: Researching and Writing A Congregational History by Dr. Andy den Otter (2003)
Remembering Your Heritage: Researching and Writing A Congregational History by Dr. Andy den Otter (Member, Committee on History)
For years congregations have asked us if this type of resource existed for the Presbyterian Church.
This 22 page resource is full of information on all aspects of writing your history such as:
- Why write a history?
- What is History?
- Who will do the History?
- Where do we find the Information?
- How do we Record the Information?
- How do we tell our Story?
It is fully illustrated production and provides style guides to footnoting, tips on using Archives, and a helpful bibliography. It is now available at a low cost of $2.00. Please order through The Book Room.
No congregation should be without their own copy!
Creating Oral History for The Presbyterian Church in Canada
This is a project to interview and record the faith and life journeys of ministers, missionaries – ordained and lay, and other Presbyterians with interesting stories to tell.
For more information contact The Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Hamilton, Convener of the Committee on History.
The Student Essay Prize
In 2003, the Committee on History established a Canadian Presbyterian History Student Prize of $50.00 to be awarded to students of the three Church Colleges for essays that are selected for publication in Presbyterian History.
The first recipient was Mary F. Campbell of Knox College for the paper entitled The Impact of the Residential School Experience on the Contemporary Approach of The Presbyterian Church in Canada to Relationships with Aboriginal Peoples.
The Rev. Dr. T. Melville Bailey History Prizes
Each year the Committee awards two prizes of $50 each – one for the best congregational history, and one for the best academic publication. Publications are to be submitted to the Archives and Records Office, 50 Wynford Dr., by the 31st of December each year. All publications under consideration are deposited in the Church Archives following the evaluation process.
The 131st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada granted permission to rename these prizes “The Rev. Dr. T. Melville Bailey History Prize” in recognition of the late Dr. Bailey’s invaluable contributions to the Committee on History, the Presbyterian Archives, the Presbyterian Museum and the Presbyterian Church in Canada as a whole.