May 15, 2006 by Joseph Krohn
Canadian Methodist Missions
Methodists were committed to missions among aboriginals. The “first nations” had been exploited since the days of the fur trade, the exploitation manifesting itself in alcohol-abetted destitution. Eager to avoid paternalism, the Methodists sought to put mission leadership in the hands of aboriginals themselves. Peter Jones, Chief of the Mississaugas, was ordained the first aboriginal itinerant. Egerton Ryerson, soon to be the best-known Methodist minister, represented Canada in the Society for the Protection of Aboriginal Inhabitants of the British Dominions.
Missions overseas paralleled those in Canada. In 1873 the Wesleyans were the first of the Canadian Methodist “family” to begin working in Japan, concentrating on evangelism, medical assistance, post-elementary education and theological training for Japanese ministers. By 1884 Canadian Methodists had established a theological college in Azabu, supported by the Women’s Missionary Society’s efforts in training Japanese women for church work. Canadian Methodist missions commenced in China in 1891 amidst circumstances that were uncommonly dangerous.