Congregational Study - Executive Summary

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The Anglican Diocese of Montreal is committed to the development of a 2010 Strategic Plan. As part of that process, the Diocese requested a study to investigate church performance across the diocese and recommend ways that the diocese can move forward and realize the potential for ministry. There are a total of 99 active congregations plus Mile-End Community Mission and Grace Pastoral Community. A total of 96 congregations and Mile-End Community Mission were visited.

The Mission Field

The population of the diocese increased from 3,978,428 in 1996 to 4,452,560 in 2006. The areas that are seeing the most growth are the Montreal region and the north territory. These two areas account for 79% of the growth in the Diocese. During the same 10-year period, growth also occurred in the south territory but mainly within the limit of the suburbs located on the South Shore of Montreal.

The total population of the diocese is projected to reach just over 5 million in 2031. Most of the growth will occur in the same territories.

The overall demographic analysis shows:

  • The young, school age children are located in the high growth areas on the northern and southern ring of Montreal. The young adult population is located in the inner core of Montreal. The senior population is located in the retirement areas of the Diocese in the Laurentians and in the Eastern Townships.
  • There is an overall trend to increased bilingualism.
  • The major ethnic groups represented are Italian, Jewish, Greek, Arab and Caribbean.
  • In the diocese, 19% of the population has a university education.
  • The highest income areas of the diocese are focused in the western parts of Montreal Island and on the northern and southern ring of Montreal.
  • Anglican Church affiliation in the diocese declined from 2.7% in 1981 to 1.3%, in 2001 - a loss of almost 45,000 Anglicans.
  • The number of females (over 15) in the labour force has increased from 53% in 1986 to 60.6% in 2001, impacting the availability of women for volunteering for Sunday school and other roles that women have traditionally performed in the church.
  • Statistics Canada tracks migration statistics between provinces, the analysis shows the net loss of English speaking from Quebec has tapered off and between 2001 and 2006 the net loss was about 8,000 thousand people.

Summary of Results

One of the most commonly heard comments in the field was that the political climate has resulted in the English speaking leaving in droves and young people have left to find work outside of Quebec, impacting the ability of the Anglican Church to grow in Quebec. Migration statistics between provinces show that hundreds of thousands of English speaking left the province for other areas of Canada. It is not uncommon for congregations to attribute outside forces for the decline in church membership such as provincial politics, immigration, Sunday shopping, sports and a myriad of other factors. Most often however, the problem lies in our inability to adapt to a younger population and cultural diversity in the mission field. Montreal Diocese does not seem to be an exception. The diocese is not attracting Anglicans in the usual proportion and the diocese is overrepresented in the older age groups.

What is impacting our ability to attract younger people and a more representative share of census Anglicans? There might be some who would say that it is the secularization of Quebec society that is different than other areas of Canada. If the diocese as a whole and the churches within the diocese were functioning in such a way to realize the full potential of the mission field in terms of music offering, advertising and communications, the development of children’s ministry, engaging youth, adult education and francophone initiatives, if there were lots of involvement in the cultural aspects of Quebec French and English culture, then you might think this is true. However in reality

  • Close to half of the churches do not have full time clergy resources
  • Two thirds of the churches still describe their music as traditional
  • Just over half of churches do not have web sites
  • One quarter of churches to not do any advertising
  • Just over one third of churches offer Sunday school and even fewer offer programming for youth

French ministry in the diocese is limited to Sorel, St Mark’s Longueuil and Mile-End Community Mission. There is French Haitian ministry at la Nativité and various French groups are represented in St. Peter’s TMR. There is also a trickling in of Francophones into some of our churches namely Brossard, St. Lambert and Deux Montagnes. The common denominator in all of these churches is openness to diversity.

Francophones from various congregations were interviewed. They talked about the warmth they felt in the Anglican Church, the lack of judgment and authoritarian leadership, they liked the music, the education for children, with the exception of the congregation in Sorel, which is completely French speaking, there were a variety of opinions around language. Most were happy with a variety of scenarios from English speaking to various degrees of combined English and French. They felt respected that people would try to speak to them in French and add some French to the service to accommodate them, it was agreed by everyone that the clergy and lay leadership did not need to be Francophone – they did need to be warm, approachable and pastoral. Most said their friends were asking questions about the Anglican Church. Parishioners of St. Mark, Longueuil and a parishioner of Rédempteur at the Cathedral raised the issue of culture. They commented that the Diocese needs to be involved in the cultural events that are important to the Francophone community and that congregations need some leadership in this area.



The object of this report is to ensure that the Anglican Churches in Montreal Diocese are positioned to serve the people living within the diocesan boundary and that the ministry offered is geared to meet the needs of all people. It is a strategy that focuses on growth and renewal rather than maintenance and preservation of the past. The locations have been categorized based on their ability to serve the broader community.

Strategic Locations

  • In the urban area, these locations are positioned to serve the greater community.
  • Second Level Locations — round out our coverage of the mission field.
  • Tertiary Locations — are identified in the urban areas. These locations are located in residential neighbourhoods that lack visibility.
  • Final Generation — Locations are identified in the rural areas. They are most often located in isolated rural hamlets and small, un-serviced villages where there is no opportunity for population growth.
  • Tourism Locations — are an important part of the recreational areas of the Diocese particularly in the Laurentians.


There were recommendations made about improved signage, and the development of websites and those factors that need to be considered in the development of websites. The need to upgrade the condition of the exterior of the buildings is important when it is in the public eye every day.


The addition of parish staff translates into the expansion of ministry, which translates into growth. It is important that clergy stay in congregations long enough to initiate change which cannot be done in two or three years. Another important area is ensuring that the gifts of clergy are well matched to the needs of the parish.

Congregational Development Officer 

In addition to parish staffing, the Diocese has been looking for a Congregational Development Officer to support churches in moving forward with ministry initiatives. This person needs to be bilingual and familiar with French Canadian culture and be well versed in “Fresh Expressions” of church. The priorities for this person will be the development of cultural connections with the Anglophone, Francophone and Haitian communities, the spearheading if a church planting initiative in the Diocese and the development of a bank of congregational development coaches, that works with congregations requiring assistance.

Church Planting

There are several areas in the Diocese in need of church planting. There are several types of church plants, from green field plants to the restart of an existing location. There are leadership qualities needed in a church planter. The Diocese of Toronto, because of the amount of growth in that Diocese, has done a lot of work in this area in terms of the qualities and gifts that are needed in a church planter and the process that should be undertaken. The Diocese should take advantage of the work being done in this area and tap into these resources.

French Ministry

The term French ministry is a broad term; there are Haitian French, European French, African French and Quebec French. The approach to these groups is very different. The largest group by far are the Quebec Francophones. The “Quiet Revolution” from 1960 to 1966 was a time of dramatic change in the province of Quebec. It marked the end of the control of the Roman Catholic Church over education and health. It marked the beginning of the secularization of Quebec. Dr. Bibby’s work has indicated that while there has been an increase in attendance at worship across the country, in Quebec there has been a continued decline. Such findings have led some people to think of Quebec as a religious wasteland. However Quebecers are still identifying with the Roman Catholic Church in large numbers. In 2005 Dr. Bibby put the question directly to Quebeckers, the question read, “Would you consider being more involved in a religious group if you found it to be worthwhile for yourself or your family?” The results found that 63% of Quebec Catholics who attend mass less than once a month said “yes” or “perhaps” if the ministry was in touch with their personal interests and needs, when there was a more contemporary outlook and ministries exhibited qualities that they value. 

Diocesan Profile

The Diocese is been encouraging to initiate a narrative budgeting process.

National Church Fundraising Campaign

The National Church has unveiled plans to do a nationwide fundraising campaign. It is important that Montreal Diocese participate in this campaign to provide an influx of money to fund new ministry initiatives.


The priorities, from the vantage point of this analysis, all focus on the need to have additional resources in the growth areas of the diocese, the hiring of additional congregational development staff, narrative budgeting at the diocesan level and participation in the National Church fundraising campaign.