Anglophone migration out of Francophone Canada has decimated the Anglican Church with the number of members of the Diocese of Quebec falling almost in half over the past two years, a document released on the diocesan website reports.
“A Thumbnail Sketch of the Diocese” published on 14 Sept 2015 in preparation for the election of the 13th Bishop of Quebec reported: “There are 69 congregations, serving an overall Anglican population of approximately 1800 souls.” Statistics published in a report released in early 2014 by the Task Force on Mission Ministry and Management reported the diocese had 3000 members in 52 parishes with 87 congregations.
On 5 Aug 2015 the Bishop of Quebec, the Rt Rev. Dennis Drainville (61) announced that he would step down in 2017 and called for the election of a coadjutor at a special meeting of synod on 26-29 Nov 2015, with his successor consecrated in March 2016. Earlier this year, Bishop Drainville stood for election in Montreal and called for the merger of the two dioceses. He lost to Bishop-elect Mary Irwin-Gibson. He told the Anglican Journal his decision to retire was not related to the result of that election.
“I had spent four to five years speaking with the bishop of Montreal and people in Montreal about the whole issue of a possible merger, and I was disappointed that things didn’t really seem to move forward on that,” he said, adding: “in my estimation, it is a foregone conclusion that there will come a time when Quebec will have to be one diocese.”
Diocesan leaders have warned Anglicanism was facing extinction in Quebec. An essay posted last year on the diocesan webpage stated 64 per cent of congregations would close or be amalgamated with other parishes in the next five years. The 2014 Task Force on Mission Ministry and Management paper stated “42% of congregations have fewer than 10 regular services a year and 76% have fewer than 25 participants at services. In 31% of the congregations the age range begins at 50 and in 13% at 70.” The report further reported that a “staggering 83%” reported minimal or no activity outside of worship.
The “Thumbnail Sketch” noted the members of the largest congregation in the diocese in Kawachikamach spoke the Naskapi language and served the local native peoples.
It stated: “The diocese is presently served by 20 priests who are assisted by 2 deacons and 61 lay readers. The majority of incumbents serve multi-point parishes, and most clergy are engaged in ministry on a non-stipendiary or part time basis. There are currently only five full time remunerated priests, including the Chaplain of Bishop’s University.”
The flight of English-speaking people from the province was one factor in the church’s decline.
“The Anglophone population, the traditional makeup of the diocese, is now a small minority in Quebec. The 2006 data shows that in the Quebec City region, for example, only 1.5 per cent of the local population count English as their mother tongue and in Sherbrooke only 4.8 per cent,” the Sketch stated.