The following text was reprinted with the permission of the author, Robert L. Peterson, and is meant for information purposes only. A link to the entire document is available. Thank You.
Publications Chrétiennes was established in the late 1950s by Norman Buchanan in a corner of the basement of the chapel at Cap-de-la-Madeleine. It started with one man and a small press, but rapidly grew. Message de Vérité (Message of Truth), its monthly publication, presented the Gospel regularly and in a variety of ways. Its chief purpose was for follow_work and for mass distribution.
Glad Tidings began in 1955 as an English_speaking radio broadcast directed by Robert McLaren and serving northern Ontario. In 1961, with the arrival of Gaston Jolin, the ministry was expanded to include French_speaking programming. A French television broadcast was added in 1964 to reach into Quebec. By 1969, all English_speaking broadcasts were discontinued and efforts were concentrated in French radio and television
The Sermons from Science pavilion at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair was a watershed event in the history of Quebec evangelization. Thousands of souls were saved. Among others, Arnold Reynolds, Sam Coppieters, and Fernand Saint_Louis were all active at the pavilion. Christian Direction Inc. was formed at that time as an umbrella organization for the Sermons from Science ministry. It was under the direction of assembly workers Keith Price and later Glenn Smith. New radio and television programs were born in this period. Fernand Saint_Louis began a radio program in 1963 at Montmagny, followed in 1972 by a TV program from Montreal. But most important was the personal witnessing of the growing number of believers.
A corporation known as The Christian Brethren Church in the Province of Quebec was set up in 1942 to serve as a necessary legal body, representing the interests of the assemblies in Quebec. Conseils et services missionnaires (CSM), a branch of Missionary Service Committee, Toronto, was formed in 1984 for channeling funds and stimulating missionary interest. Programme de formation pour les assemblées chrétiennes (ProFAC) was begun in 1995 for the training of assembly leaders. CARO (Conférences d’anciens, de responsables et d’ouvriers) was begun in 1998 for the purpose of bringing workers and assembly leaders together for an annual conference.
Assembly camps include Frontier Lodge on the Canada-U.S. border (1936), Joli_B in northwestern Quebec (1963), Parkside Ranch near Sherbrooke (1964), Camp Brochet near Chicoutimi (1967), Camp Joie-de-Vivre in the Gaspé (1975) and Villa Carmel (1995) in the vicinity of Trois-Rivières.
French assembly efforts have also been established outside of Quebec, in Northern Ontario at Timmins (1968) and Hearst (1981), as well as in the neighboring province of New Brunswick..
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Having surveyed assembly work in Quebec in these general ways, we turn now to specific assembly histories. We begin in the Montreal area; the English-speaking assemblies are treated first, then the French-speaking.
The original English work in Montreal was associated with the efforts of J.N. Darby, who made several visits to the city, beginning in 1859. The first of these assemblies eventually met on City Counsellors Street.
One of the earliest ‘open’ assemblies, whose specific beginning is lost from memory, met at 2481 St. Antoine Street in Montreal. It consisted of a number of local brethren as well as a number from the British West Indies. At some point, the work divided, with the more conservative element moving away. In 1926, several years later, that group established their work at the Park Extension Gospel Hall in Montreal (see below).
Meanwhile, the more open group continued meeting at St. Antoine Street. The area had deteriorated somewhat and the white believers found it increasingly unattractive. The assembly amicably divided, many of the believers moving into the Draper Avenue Gospel Hall in Montreal (see below). These continued for some time to help financially with the original work. Some time after 1955, the land where the St. Antoine work stood was expropriated and the assembly purchased an unused church building in Westmount, now known as Bethel Gospel Chapel.
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Draper Avenue Gospel Hall, the outcome of the above amicable division, first located in the Notre Dame de Grace district of Montreal. Later they moved to Côte St-Luc and took the name Côte St-Luc Bible Chapel. They continue to meet today on Lansdowne Avenue in Westmount as the West End Christian Fellowship.
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Park Extension Gospel Hall in Montreal began in 1926 when a brother whose occupation was installing gasoline pumps saw the need for a Gospel testimony in the territory surrounding Montreal. The initial purpose of this testimony was to carry out farm_to_farm and village_to_village visitation with the good news of Jesus Christ. These English_speaking workers also attempted to distribute French literature to the French communities, but encountered severe opposition and were prevented by newly passed laws from conducting a French work. When John Spreeman and Noah Gratton began French work in Quebec, they made this assembly their English base of operation.
In the mid 1950s, the assembly, often referred to as the North End Assembly because of its location in the northern part of the city, was the largest in Montreal. There were some 100 in fellowship, all English, and they conducted an annual Bible conference. The assembly later moved into a former Anglican church building on Ogilvy Avenue and changed its name to Ogilvy Avenue Gospel Hall. The assembly now meets as Grace Gospel Hall in Ville St. Laurent.
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Rosemount is a district of Montreal having a mixed population of English_speaking and French Canadians. In 1945, two assemblies were in Rosemount, one of them French_speaking, formed in the early 1940s. The English assembly, Ebenezer Gospel Hall has been in existence since 1928. Ebenezer was located in the heart of the English_speaking population and situated opposite the Rosemount Protestant School, one of the largest schools in Quebec.
Alfred P. Gibbs had two weeks of meetings with children in 1945 and each night the hall was filled. At that time, John Dawson and George H. Dixon were the elders. In 1953, the assembly moved into a new chapel at 2900 Rosemount Boulevard, Montreal. Ebenezer Gospel Hall at that time had about 40 or 50 in fellowship along with a progressive children’s work. The assembly later relocated to 6000 13th Avenue in Rosemount as Ebenezer Gospel Chapel. Today it is a thriving assembly known as Rosemount Bible Church.
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In the late 1940s, an assembly meeting at Bethel Chapel in Pointe Claire was started in Pointe Claire, a suburb on the west end of the island of Montreal. It prospered and when the building could no longer accommodate the numbers then attending, a group of about 160 people left Bethel Chapel to establish a new work called Westview. This was in 1985. Bethel Chapel continues as a strong assembly.
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The Westview Bible Church first met in rented quarters in Dorval, a southern suburb of Montreal. Joseph Kass, a chairman of the elders at Bethel Chapel, resigned in order to help establish the new assembly. The Westview assembly subsequently moved through other locations, and in 1987 purchased a six_acre lot further west on the island in Pierrefonds. Here they built a chapel with a 500_seat auditorium and a full gymnasium.
The leaders at Westview Bible Church have included Richard Kimoff, Roy Hoffman, David Knight, Robert Reynolds, John Kelsall, Rowland Phare, Ted Kass, John Reoch, Don Liesemer, and Joseph Kass. Westview Bible Church holds two Sunday morning services, one being a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, at which up to 150 attend. The second is more contemporary, and approximately 400 attend that service, including a significant number of seekers. Over two-thirds of the congregation are under 35 years of age. About 30 to 40 people, a mixture of believers and seekers, have attended the Alpha program of Gospel outreach, in which a number have been saved. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated each Sunday evening, once a month on Sunday mornings, and small groups are encouraged to Remember the Lord in their homes for those who don’t come to the other services. The church is involved in a number of parachurch ministries, such as Intervarsity, Youth for Christ, Hockey Ministries, On Rock Ministries, and MAP International.
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In Verdun, a suburb in the southwest of Montreal, Hebron Gospel Hall existed for many years in a store-front on Wellington Street. It has since ceased to function
In 1912, a number of black brethren who had come from the British West Indies were in fellowship with Christians at the 125th Street Assembly in New York City. Being located in the white section of the city, they were not reaching the blacks. Then the Nottage brothers, together with Messrs. Sampson, Seeley, McLaughlin, and others began open-air work and other activities. A tract band was formed in 1913, and three and a half million tracts were bought and distributed by the summer of 1914. Hundreds were saved or restored to the Lord. Home meetings were begun in the winter of 1913, and this led to the establishment of the first assembly in the black areas of New York City. By October 1914, 30 of the believers were able to gather as a local church at 50 West 134th Street in the heart of Harlem. Called Grace Gospel Chapel, the assembly grew in ten years to 300. Today, Grace Gospel Chapel is located nearby at 102 West 133rd Street.
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Many of the Christians in fellowship at Grace Gospel Chapel were being relocated to Queens in the late 1940s. After many tent meetings in 1948 on Northern Boulevard in Corona, in the Queens area, they realized the need for a meeting place in that area, and purchased a store front on 103rd Street, calling it Corona Gospel Hall. After that it was called Corona Gospel Chapel and upon the 1962 completion of a new chapel at 102-05 35th Avenue, Galilee Gospel Chapel.
Those involved in the start-up include Evans Welch, Joseph Muller, Lloyd Rallos, Jerry Thompson, A. Cambridge, B. Holder, and Mr. McClaughlin who conducted the tent meetings. Others active in leadership include S. Graves, L. Collymore, B. Phillips, G. Tucker, and G. Daniels. Joseph Muller has been commended for full time work at the assembly. About 150 adults and youngsters are in the meeting.
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Good Tidings Gospel Hall in Brooklyn traces its history to a small home meeting in 1918 at 136 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, the home of Thomas and Elizabeth Ellis. A few believers originally from the Caribbean met in the Ellis home for prayer and Bible study. At that time, they fellowshipped at the 13th Street Assembly in Brooklyn, comprised largely of caucasian believers. But they yearned to reach the blacks in their own neighborhood, and sought God’s face for His enabling. The Spirit of God worked among them; backsliders came under conviction and were restored, and souls were being saved. Albertha Herbert and Alexander Weeks were among the first fruits and became stalwarts in the work.
At first the group met monthly on first Sundays while they continued to fellowship with the 13th Street Assembly. Soon they began meeting weekly in homes. In April 1919 they rented quarters at 160 Third Avenue for a Sunday School, and three weeks later began celebrating the Lord’s Supper there with an initial attendance of 14. The young assembly was assisted by Grace Gospel Chapel in New York City, both financially and in ministry. John B. Hunte, Thomas Ellis, and Joseph Griffith are considered the founding elders. They were soon joined as elders by George Jilkes, James E. Herbert, and George Phillips.
By the end of 1919, the membership had increased to 79, and the assembly relocated to larger quarters at 169 Third Avenue. Between 1930 and 1940, the assembly in cooperation with Grace Gospel Chapel began a program of open-air preaching, which resulted in the formation of two more assemblies, in Corona (Queens) and in Montclair, New Jersey. During the period 1940 to 1950, the assembly increased through conversions and immigration from the Caribbean. The Christians relocated to the Old Globe Theatre on Sumpter Street and remained there for many years. They incorporated as Good Tidings Gospel Hall in 1940.
The expanding assembly needed more room; in 1983, they were donated the deed to property at the corner of Fulton Street and Reid Avenue, now Malcolm X Boulevard. They constructed a new building seating 400, and continue at that location. The vigorous assembly publishes a quarterly paper, has a radio program, and has many youth outreaches. From 1930 and on, the assembly sent many of its members to mission fields in Barbados, the West Indies, the western United States, and Florida. Elders since the early days include Donald Robinson, George Berry, William Cox, William Lane, Josehp Welch, Theodore Edghill, Frederick Pilgrim, Granville Salmon, Theophilus Cato, Justin Mason, Alfred Fox, Roy Sixto, Andrew Esdelle, Hugh Wood, Rudolph Jackson, and Patson Agard. Today there are about 350 in fellowship under the spiritual leadership of eight elders.