Canada: Wesley United Church in Montreal, including how the church assesses and decides whether a member is ready for baptism, and whether the church provides support letters to members (2019–May 2021) [CAN200639.E]

 
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Wesley United Church

The website of the Wesley United Church indicates that it is "a congregation of the United Church of Canada," serving the greater Notre Dame de Grâce (NDG) area in Montreal (Wesley United Church n.d.). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Minister of the Wesley United Church provided the following information:

When anyone requests to be baptized, I arrange a meeting with them to determine why they seek baptism. When the baptism is of a child, I meet with the parents to explain the vows they take on behalf of their child and the responsibility of raising the child in the Christian faith that comes with those vows. When the baptism is of an adult[,] … they take the vows themselves, making a commitment to the Christian faith. For adult baptism, the individuals are also confirmed into full membership in the United Church of Canada. Normally, individuals seeking baptism make the request after attending the church for a while. In some cases, it is a matter of weeks or months, while for others it comes after a number of years. We have no set timeline and I make the judgement of their sincerity myself. Once I have met with them to determine their sincerity, explain the responsibilities of membership and encourage them to be involved in both the life and work of the congregation, I make a recommendation to the Session (the committee responsible for spiritual matters) for their approval. That approval has not ever been denied in my experience. And once [approved], the baptism is scheduled to take place in a regular Sunday service. It is not the practice of the United Church of Canada to do private baptisms unless there is a compelling pastoral reason such as illness or imminent death. I have never held a private baptism in my years in ministry. (Minister 23 Apr. 2021)

Regarding the appearance of a baptismal certificate, the Minister provided the following information:

Baptismal certificates are given at the time of the actual baptism and are signed by the minister (me) and the Clerk of Session (Chair of the committee). As the incumbent minister, I am the one authorized to sign, as is the Clerk of Session. There is no one certificate in terms of a standard form … (Minister 23 Apr. 2021)

An English copy and French translation of a blank certificate of baptism and confirmation, which was purchased by the Wesley United Church and was being used as of 23 April 2021, provided by the Minister, is attached to this Response.

Regarding the issuance of support letters, the Minister provided the following information:

I have been asked by [a] lawyer to sign affidavits attesting to the following things: how long the individual has been attending the church, whether they come to fellowship time after the service, whether the services are in English, whether a request for baptism has been made by the individual, whether a meeting is planned or has happened to prepare the individual for baptism, whether a baptism is scheduled or has taken place. Please note that each affidavit that I [have] signed was specific to the individual it was for and was prepared by the lawyer asking for the information. … I would be the sole person who would attest to this information and am authorized in my role as the incumbent minister. I have signed affidavits upon request and read each one before signing, making initialed adjustments if there is something missing or incorrect. (Minister 23 Apr. 2021)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Minister, Wesley United Church. 23 April 2021. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Wesley United Church. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 11 May 2021]

Attachment

The United Church of Canada. N.d. Certificate of Baptism and Confirmation. Provided to the Research Directorate by the Minister of the Wesley United Church, 23 April 2021. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada.