Christian and Missionary Alliance Church

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) Church in Saskatchewan is part of an international fellowship of over three million members in eighty countries. It began as an interdenominational movement led by Canadian Presbyterian Albert B. Simpson, who graduated from Knox College in Toronto in 1865 and served Presbyterian churches in Hamilton, Ontario, Louisville, Kentucky and New York City. When confronted with the spiritual needs of the New York masses, he left his prestigious Presbyterian pulpit in 1881 and began an independent church known as the Gospel Tabernacle. Out of this local ministry, two organizations were established in 1887; they merged in 1897 as the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The Alliance remained an interdenominational society during those early years as Simpson was joined by men and women of many backgrounds who remained in their churches. They included Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Anglicans, Baptists, Brethren, Salvationists, and people from other groups. Cross-denominational involvement has given the Alliance a depth of biblical and theological insight from the Puritan and Pietistic traditions; the writings of its well-known preacher and author, A.W. Tozer, draw on the works of the medieval mystics.

A similar movement concurrently developed in Canada under the leadership of a former Methodist turned Congregationalist, Rev. John Salmon. In February 1889, Salmon and his associates met with Simpson; this meeting resulted in the union of their ministries in Canada as the “Dominion Auxiliary of the Christian Alliance,” with William Howland, former mayor of Toronto, as its first president. The 1920s saw the beginning of an ongoing C&MA ministry in Saskatchewan. To address the spiritual needs of isolated prairie residents, gospel teams of students were sent out to minister throughout the summer months in camps and tent meetings. Alliance leaders also recognized that to support an ongoing ministry on the prairies, churches needed to be established in key cities: in 1924 the C&MA thus moved toward establishing churches throughout the province, so that now there are nine C&MA churches in Regina as well as in Saskatoon. These, and the other Alliance churches in the towns and villages of Saskatchewan, serve as a strong support base for local, national and international Alliance ministries.

The C&MA has a long history of ministering to a variety of ethnic groups throughout the world. In 1932 Ruby Johnston began gospel work with the Chinese in Regina: this ministry led to the organization of the Regina Chinese Alliance Church in 1961 and the calling of Rev. Augustus Chao from Hong Kong as pastor; this fellowship became the “mother church” of the more than 140 Chinese Alliance churches in North America. Radio programming has also played a significant role in reaching the people of the prairies. In 1935, Rev. W.H. Brooks, the Saskatoon pastor, started a Sunday evening radio broadcast, Glad Tidings Half Hour, over station CFQC and received great public response. Rev. Roy McIntyre in the 1940s and Rev. A.H. Orthner in the 1950s also reached out to the population on radio in Moose Jaw. After eighty years of ministry, the C&MA has now forty-nine churches in Saskatchewan, with a membership of 11,000. They are served by approximately 125 official workers and support missionaries in fifty-two countries of the world.

Rexford A. Boda