The Role of Churches in Immigrant Settlement and Integration is a national research project conducted across Canada by the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR) in five cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Moncton and Halifax) and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Its purpose is to develop a national research partnership that would investigate how to better equip church groups across Canada to help immigrants/refugees settle and integrate into Canadian society. The Toronto site of the Role of Churches project, through a partnership with the Tyndale Intercultural Ministries Centre (TIM Centre), investigated best practices in helping immigrants/refugees settle and integrate into Canada by conducting five focus groups and two case studies, specifically exploring the Vision, Structure and Processes of churches in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who are explicitly involved with helping newcomers in Canada.
Four research questions were posed in the study:
- What short and mid-term changes in vision, structure and process would best enable church groups to be more effective in supporting immigrants to settle and integrate?
- How could the role of immigrant church leaders be maximized in order to advance these changes?
- What are the current research and knowledge capacities and gaps of church groups in addressing the needed changes?
- What promising practices, structures and partnerships currently exist?
The five focus groups composed of participants in Christian churches in the GTA who are involved in immigrant settlement and integration. These focus groups included a total of 20 different individuals, from 11 different denominations, representing 10 different countries of origin. The focus groups were recorded, transcribed, coded and analyzed by two research team members. The code categories were reviewed, summarized, and interpreted based on the research categories of vision, structure and process. A full report of the findings and results from these focus groups can be found above.
The first case study conducted was on a large multicultural church in Toronto. The church in this case study expanded its vision and created a ministry designed to help newcomers integrate and settle in the GTA. For this case study, the ministry’s structure, vision, and process were explored. Five participant-observation sessions and seven one-on-one interviews were conducted. In addition, documents related to the newcomer ministry were collected. A full report of the findings and results from this case study can be found above.
The second case study conducted was on a smaller Mandarin speaking Chinese church in downtown Toronto. The church in this case study focused its vision to help newcomers integrate and settle in the GTA by creating a ministry partnership with a larger suburban Cantonese speaking Chinese church as well as specific ministries focused on helping refugees settle and integrate into Canadian society. For this case study, the ministry’s structure, vision, and process were explored. Three participant-observation sessions and three one-on-one interviews were conducted. In addition, documents related to the newcomer ministry were collected. A full report of the findings and results from this case study can be found above.