Albert Carman, Canadian Methodist Leader

Dan Graves, MSL

Albert Carman, Canadian Methodist Leader

On this day, June 27, 1833, Albert Carman was born in Iroquois, Ontario. In time, he would become one of the greatest leaders of the Methodists in Canada. But meanwhile, he had to grow up, both physically and spiritually.

As a youth he attended a school founded by his uncle, John Carman. There his neglect of his studies brought him bad report cards. He was described as "the worst of the lot."

And yet there was something better in the young man than was apparent. He became a youth with great learning, taking his Bachelor's and master's degrees from Victoria University, Toronto. He was converted to Methodism. When the Methodist Episcopal Church established Belleville Seminary (1857), 23-year-old Albert came aboard as a mathematics professor. The following year, he was named principal.

At 25, Albert experienced what was probably the greatest crisis of his life. Paralyzed by temptations toward pride and the pursuit of wealth, he realized that he needed to be completely set apart for God. He wanted to live his life under Holy Spirit control.

One of his first steps was to sell an expensive watch he had bought for show. He replaced it with a more modest watch and gave one-fifth of the remaining money to his Sunday school. Studying sanctification (being set apart for God) he realized that Christ had died to save people from sin and that Christ was sufficient to keep us even at this moment from sin. As for the future, he could trust Christ for that, too.

On October 9,1858, he wrote a covenant in which he promised to devote himself to his service. "O Lord help me!" he wrote, noting that he could not even make such a covenant without evil thoughts unless God helped him. "You know the motives of the children of men: make, O make mine right in your sight, for by you I shall be judged and rewarded according to my life here below." Before long, he sensed God "weeding" the garden of his soul.

After that, Albert's rise was steady. He was ordained and married. The school grew rapidly. He was chosen Bishop of the Methodists.

As head of Canada's Methodist Episcopal church, he preached constantly on the need of holy living and insisted on the authority of the Bible. He preached against alcohol as a source of many social problems. He also developed a program to plant churches in Western Canada which struggled so much that it put the Methodists in debt. To relieve this, he agreed to union with a more liberal group of Methodists --a fact which conservatives regret.

From 1910 onward, the liberals began to gain control of the Canadian Methodists. They introduced a theology centered more on works than on Christ. Albert's defense of the Bible led him into serious disputes with professors who denied it. Albert resigned in 1914. He broke a hip shortly afterward, never fully recovered, and died in 1917.


  1. French, Goldwin S. "Carman, Albert." Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1998.
  2. Kleinsteuber, R. Wayne. More than a memory : the renewal of Methodism in Canada. Mississauga, Ontario: Light and Life Press Canada, 1984.
  3. Mullin, Alex. "Before the Seaway -- Iroquios." Cornwall Public Library and the S.D. & G. Historical Society. ( Iroquois/Report_Card.htm).

Last updated July, 2007.

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