Disaffected New West clergy transfer to the Southern Cone

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Eleven members of the clergy in the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster on April 21 resigned due to theological conflicts with the diocese and Bishop Michael Ingham, but said they intend to continue their parish ministry under the jurisdiction of a South American Anglican church.

The nine priests and two deacons, in a letter to Bishop Ingham, said “it is our intention to remain members of the Anglican Church” but “we cannot continue the Anglican ministry to which we were ordained under your jurisdiction.”

In 2002, New Westminster voted to allow blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples and the letter said the diocese “has departed from historic, orthodox Anglican teaching and practice.”

The clergy, from six parishes, said they “hereby relinquish the licences (to minister) we hold from the bishop of New Westminster. Each of us will receive a licence to continue our present parish ministries from Bishop Donald Harvey, who … is under the jurisdiction of the primate of the Southern Cone.”

Bishop Harvey, who resigned from the Canadian church last November, joined the Southern Cone (which consists of the southern part of South America) under Archbishop Gregory Venables (please see related stories, p. 12).

The clergy were responding to a letter sent them in February by Bishop Ingham, stating that they had abandoned their ministry within the Anglican Church of Canada and giving them 60 days to respond. The six parishes in February joined the Anglican Network in Canada, a theologically-conservative group of churches led by Bishop Harvey.

A network spokesperson, Cheryl Chang, confirmed that the New Westminster clergy intend to remain in their parish buildings, along with their congregations – a move that may prompt legal action from the diocese.

Eight of the diocese’s 80 parishes left the synod, or governing convention, in 2002 after it approved same-sex blessings, stopped paying assessments to the diocese and began processing their own payroll for clergy and staff. A year ago, due to a technical computer system issue at the national pension office in Toronto, the diocese agreed to process their payroll again, but the arrangement ended at the end of April and the churches “will be paying (their) own clergy,” said Ms. Chang.

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Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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