Introducing: The Online Encyclopedia of Canadian Christian Leaders

Former BC Lieutenant Governor David Lam is among the subjects of the Online Encyclopedia of Canadian Christian Leaders.

Former BC Lieutenant Governor David Lam is among the subjects of the Online Encyclopedia of Canadian Christian Leaders. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Lloyd Mackey is the editor/director of a unique – and still evolving – biographical resource. Here he explains how it came about, its significance and its prospects for future development.

Between now and the middle of 2017 – the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation – the Online Encyclopedia of Canadian Christian Leaders (OECCL) will emerge at the Canadian Christian Leaders website

Hopefully, it will become an increasingly interesting, varied and verifiable source of information for researchers, journalists and anyone else wanting to learn about the role Christian leaders have played in Canada’s development since 1867.

The process began three years ago, when Edna and I were still living in Ottawa. At that time the opportunity presented itself for me to enroll in doctor of ministry studies in leadership, through Tyndale Seminary in Toronto.

Early on, the DMin director, Paul Bramer, set me to vision-casting about a project that would utilize my studies and my previous 45 years of journalism experience. The development of such an Encyclopedia became the subject of my doctoral thesis. Now the task of the team developing around the project is, as Dr. Bramer put it, “to put pedal to the metal” on the actual completion of the Encyclopedia by that landmark 150th anniversary.

What will it look like?

As the title suggests, OECCL is online. A visit to the site, at present, will show the Encyclopedia in skeletal form and provide a range of ways people can access it and participate in its development.

Leaders whose entries will appear in the Encyclopedia will go well beyond the range of pastors or Christian ministry leaders. They will be drawn from various sectors of Canadian society. We have developed seven basic categories of leadership:

  • Business / Philanthropy / Labour
  • Church / Ministry
  • Education
  • Entertainment / Arts
  • Family / Health Care
  • Government / Politics
  • Media
Nellie McClung is best known as an activist for women's rights, and as a novelist.

Nellie McClung is best known as an activist for women’s rights, and as a novelist.

The entries will be chosen from across the denominational/theological spectrum. There will be an indication of where on the spectrum that particular leader fits – Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Anabaptist, Orthodox, Evangelical, Charismatic, Fundamentalist or Emerging. Undoubtedly, as the project proceeds, other points on the spectrum may be identified.

Six ingredients will make up each entry:

  • A synopsis of the entry.
  • A biography of 1,000 words or more which includes the role of the Christian faith in the life of the entry subject.
  • A 500-word summary of the leadership traits, style and contribution of the entry to the life of the nation.
  • A bibliography of additional sources of information about the leader.
  • A brief biography of the author of the entry.
  • At least one photo or visual depiction of the leader.

Was there a prototype?

In the late 1990s, a coffee table book titled Canada: Portraits of Faith – edited by Michael Clarke, then a British Columbia history teacher – was widely circulated across the country. It contained 52 portraits of Canadian leaders, covering the 16th to the late 20th centuries.

Clarke kindly granted permission to use both artwork and written copy in the OECCL. A total of 25 entries have been or will be included in a section of the Encyclopedia titled “Portraits Collection.”

Who are the first entries?

Charles Ellington created the Bishop Cridge Centre for the Family in Victoria.

Charles Ellington created the Bishop Cridge Centre for the Family in Victoria.

We have four initial entries:

  • Charles Ellington; a Victoria business leader who was a product of what was then known as the Protestant Orphanage. In his middle years, as board chair of the institution, he led in its transition from a traditional orphanage to be a multi-faceted, faith-based family service organization known as the Bishop Cridge Centre for the Family.
  • David See-Chai Lam; a Hong Kong born-and-bred banker who became a significant property developer in Vancouver, before becoming Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in the late 20th century. His philanthropic activity significantly impacted many faith-based, community, business and educational projects in the province.
  • Cathie Nicholl; A pioneer leader in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Canada whose biblical teaching, hymnology and leadership development approaches impacted thousands of Canadians who were later to take on significant leadership roles.
  • Frank C. Peters; a Mennonite minister whose skills and energy led him to become president of Waterloo Lutheran University at a critical time in its history. His careful consensus-building helped the school to transition to the public sector as Wilfrid Laurier University – with a Christian seminary at the heart of its campus. (This entry was used by permission from the Global Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO). 

On the Encyclopedia site, there is an “idea-starter” list of about 40 people who are possible entries. Historians, journalists or others who might have the skills or insights to write a particular entry are invited to make contact, so we can discuss the possibility.

OECCL team members?

We have an editorial advisory committee abuilding. It consists, at present, of Eleanor Irwin, a classics professor emeritus from the University of Toronto and Robert Burkinshaw, a Trinity Western University historian. (Dr. Irwin has been involved in several academic encyclopedia projects; Dr. Burkinshaw was one of the editorial advisors for Canada: Portraits of Faith and wrote Pilgrims in Lotus Land: Conservative Protestantism in British Columbia, 1917 – 1981.)

What outcomes?

We hope that the OECCL will have a continuing impact on Christian leadership practice and morale in Canada as researchers, writers and leaders seek to emulate the spiritual values and best practices encouraged by the gospel and scripture.

We hope the Encyclopedia will be extensively used to these ends not only for the next few years but well beyond as new generations of Christian leadership develop in the life of the nation and its institutions.

Lloyd and Edna Mackey. Photo by Francis Lo.

Lloyd and Edna Mackey. Photo by Francis Lo.

Lloyd Mackey is a retired journalist living with his wife Edna in Surrey. He holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University (1984) and recently earned a DMin at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto.

He has worked in community and Christian journalism variously as a reporter, columnist, editor and publisher for close to half a century. (He was founding editor of BC Christian News.)

He has written several books on faith and leadership. The subjects of those books include Preston Manning and Stephen Harper. He and Edna spent 15 years in Ottawa beginning in 1998, during which time Edna was administrative assistant to Maurice Vellacott, MP.

Lloyd’s columns on the faith-political interface in Canada can be found mainly in two places. More Faithful than We Think: Stories and Insights on Canadian Leaders Doing Politics Christianly (BayRidge Books 2005) covered the period between 1998 and 2005. His OttawaWatch columns, covering from 2005 to 2015 are archived here.

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1 comment for “Introducing: The Online Encyclopedia of Canadian Christian Leaders

  1. Hello Loyd:

    Congratulations for initiating this new reference source. I value your vision for doing so.

    From the outset, I have been involved in developing and editing GAMEO entries. If ever you might be interested to include Mennonites in your database, if possible, I would be pleased to assist.

    With best wishes,

    David Giesbrecht

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