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 church offices 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 an ex-officio member of the Committee on History.
Enduring Witness: The Official History of The Presbyterian Church in Canada
Enduring Witness is the church’s official history, first published in 1975 to honour the centenary of the Union of 1875 and to record the contribution of Presbyterianism to Canadian life. It was written by Dr. John S. Moir and has been revised and updated several times. The most recent edition brings the history of our church up to the year 2000. A digitized version of the book can now be read on The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives’ website.
The Reformation @ 500
The Reformation @ 500 Project was a five-year exploration of how the Reformation speaks to the first decades of the 21st century, 500 years after Martin Luther nailed the “95 Theses” to the church door in Wittenberg. In reflecting on the theological insights of the Reformation, scholars have identified 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.” The five solas are: sola gratia, sola fide, 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 brought together theological teachers and ministry practitioners in a series of one-day conversations about the solas between 2013 and 2017. The annual events were held in different regions of the country bringing together presenters from the region in which the event was being held. Each year, the presenters included some voices not widely known in the Presbyterian church, these presenters deepened the conversations in helpful ways. As well, each year voices from outside the Presbyterian church enriched the discussions. Over the five events the solas were revealed as robust enough to speak to contemporary culture even 500 years after first being introduced.
Each year an article describing the year’s sola event was published in the Presbyterian Record or the Presbyterian Connection. Click here to download a summary of all the articles
Study guides have been produced for each of the solas, using reflections and insights gleaned from the presentations and conversations. The guides, which can be used individually or in groups, invite participants to reflect on what the 500-year-old theological slogans say to us today.
The last of five study guides explores “to God’s glory alone,” using reflections and insights made at an event held at Knox College, Toronto, in October 2017. The day’s presentations can be viewed here
500 Years of Reformation Reflections
Prepared by representatives at the 143rd General Assembly in 2017, five reflections—one for each sola—was presented in honour of the Reformation celebration.
Presbyterian History Newsletter
Presbyterian History, a newsletter of the Committee on History, contains articles on various aspects of the history of our church and was published twice a year. Thank you to Rev. Peter Bush, Editor for the past thirty years.
The Committee has been actively involved in many projects over the years, such as:
- Producing Communion Tokens in the denomination’s Centennial year in 1975.
- Publishing four volumes of Called to Witness – biographical sketches of prominent Presbyterians.
- Publishing two 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 the late Dr. Andy den Otter (2003)
About: Remembering Your Heritage: Researching and Writing A Congregational History by the late Dr. Andy den Otter (Former Member, Committee on History)
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 a fully illustrated publication and provides style guides to footnoting, tips on using Archives and a helpful bibliography. Please order through email or call 1-800-619-7301 ext. 331. 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 Rev. Geoffrey Ross , Convener of the Committee on History.
Annual Book Prize (three categories)
Each year the committee awards history prizes in the form of a plaque in three categories:
Congregations and individuals are encouraged to submit publications for consideration of the history prizes. Submission should be sent to the Book Prize Committee, c/o Presbyterian Church Archives at 50 Wynford Drive by December 31st, to be considered for a History Prize.