The Church, associations and ethnic and loyalist identities
in An Anglican British World
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This chapter considers the Church of England’s relationship with the growth of a range of voluntary associations and societies in the colonies of European settlement in the middle third of the nineteenth century. The Church both contributed to, and benefited from, the growth of a world of voluntary endeavour in the settler colonies. While clergy promoted the establishment of charitable and benevolent societies, fraternal bodies like the Orange Order provided much of the Church’s rank-and-file support in areas like Ontario. This chapter argues that a study of the Church’s engagement with two types of association—the national benevolent society and the Orange Order—can help us answer important questions about the Church’s changing relationship with ethnic and loyalist identities in the colonial world. For instance, the Canadian Church’s involvement with the English St. George’s Societies sheds light on how churchmen were rethinking the role and identity of their Church in an age of disestablishment and political reform. On the one hand associations gave the Church a means of broadening its appeal; on the other, they highlighted the weakness of a Church that was forced to rely on powerful communities of laymen for support and funding.

An Anglican British World

The Church of England and the Expansion of the Settler Empire, c. 1790–1860

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