Ontario synod to decide diocese of Moosonee’s fate

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“I want to emphasize that the church in Moosonee is not shutting down,” Bishop Tom Corston said. Photo: Art Babych

The diocese of Moosonee will become a mission area of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario if the Ontario provincial synod approves a draft canon.

The Ontario synod meets Oct. 9 to 12 in Kingston, Ont., and includes representatives from the dioceses of Moosonee, Algoma, Huron, Niagara, Ontario, Ottawa and Toronto.

The diocesan synod approved the recommendation that Moosonee become a mission area when it met last March. The plan evolved after almost a year of discussions and consultations on the fate of the diocese, which has been burdened by extreme financial difficulties.

If approved, the transition plan will take effect upon the retirement of Bishop Tom Corston, the diocesan bishop of Moosonee.

Under the plan, the Ontario metropolitan will exercise the authority, jurisdiction and powers presently held by Corston. The metropolitan may authorize other bishops to perform Episcopal duties including the ordination of deacons and priests, confirmations, and consecration of churches, chapels and churchyards.

The metropolitan may appoint an administrator for all of the mission area or administrators for its separate geographic areas. If funds allow it, an assistant bishop may be elected to help the metropolitan.

“I want to emphasize that the church in Moosonee is not shutting down,” Corston told the Anglican Journal. The work of the parishes will continue,” he added. Governance at the parish and deanery level will remain the same.

The plan does not shut the door on the possibility that Moosonee could be a diocese once again if it is able to recover financially, said Corston. It does, however, satisfy the wishes of Moosonee’s 26 parishes to remain intact. Closure of the synod office alone would reduce annual costs by an estimated $80,000-$100,000.

One of the great missionary dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada, Moosonee was established in 1872 with the installation of Bishop John Hordon. The diocese of Moosonee encompasses 350,000 sq. miles that covers the middle and northern national provinces of Quebec and Ontario. It consists of three deaneries – James Bay, Kenogami and Cochrane.

Indigenous parishes in the northern deanery of James Bay are supported by bands and councils and have the most potential for growth, according to a document explaining the transition plan. Like many other dioceses and religious denominations across Canada, Moosonee has struggled with declining numbers and declining financial resources.

Non-indigenous parishes have been affected the most. They are located mostly along Highway 11-from Geraldtown to Timmins.

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Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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