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VANCOUVER: Nine Canadian Clergy Obtain Alternative Episcopal Oversight

NINE CANADIAN CLERGY OBTAIN SPIRITUAL SHELTER FROM REVISIONIST BISHOP

Special Report

By David W. Virtue

VANCOUVER, BC--Nine clergy from six biblically orthodox parishes and a disciple-making ministry from Calgary, Alberta, have been granted adequate episcopal oversight, albeit temporary, from four Anglican Primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

They are: The Revd Charles Alexander, Timothy Institute of Ministry, Calgary, Alberta; Dr David Bowler, Comox, Vancouver Island, a Church Plant; Revd Paul Carter, Immanuel Church, Westside; Revd Ron Gibbs, St Simon’s, Deep Cove; Revd Ed Hird, St Simon’s, Deep Cove; Revd David Hollebone, Living Waters Church, Victoria, Vancouver Island; Revd John Lombard, St Simon’s, Deep Cove; Revd Barclay Mayo, St Andrews, Pender Harbour; Revd Silas Ng, Emmanuel Church, Richmond.

The clergy, churches and ministry are in two dioceses - New Westminster, BC and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The offer of pastoral help to these parishes and clergy comes at a time when eight of the clergy are under siege from New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham because they refuse to support the Diocese of New Westminster in its decision to bless same-sex unions. They say it is in violation of, and contrary to, Holy Scripture.

"This alliance of Anglican Primates has heard the plight of those who have been in a state of 'impaired communion' with their own diocese since the decision to bless same-sex unions was handed down in June of 2002-a divisive and unprecedented move that was vigorously denounced throughout the Anglican Communion," said the Rev. Paul Carter, a spokesman for the group.

The Primates include the Most Rev. Bernard Malango of Central Africa, the Most Rev. Fidele Dirokpa of Congo, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, and the Most Rev. Datuk Yong Ping Chung of South East Asia., who will serve as Chair. The Archbishops have asked the Rt. Rev. Thomas W. Johnston, bishop in the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA to provide oversight and be the representative for the four Primates on practical matters.

The Canadian clergy sought oversight out of religious conscience and this was extended to them on a temporary basis until a more satisfactory solution is found for those who dissent from the Anglican Church of Canada's growing acceptance of pansexuality.

"The offer effectively allows those congregations and clergy to remain connected to the global Anglican Communion," said Carter by phone from Vancouver.

This temporary and emergency offer of assistance by four international Anglican leaders insulates these churches and clergy in Canada from the often abusive power structures that have worked against them for the last 20 months, said Carter.

"Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster has already closed one church and brought significant pressure against the others because of their stand for the orthodox Christian faith and their desire for oversight from an alternative bishop and renewed structures," he said.

When the synod made its novel decision in June of 2002, representatives of eight churches walked out of the meeting, declaring that by its action the diocese had strayed from its Christian roots and was in 'impaired communion' with them and the rest of the Anglican Communion, said Carter.

The eight churches formed the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW) and began to seek alternative Episcopal oversight-an arrangement whereby a bishop from outside the diocese would provide spiritual covering and oversight with full jurisdiction for their ministries.

This type of alternative oversight has been consistently opposed by Bishop Ingham and the Canadian House of Bishops. Because of the disregard by Ingham of the pleas of leadership from around the Anglican Communion, several internal attempts to find a Canadian solution have failed.

The situation in Canada and the Diocese of New Westminster, in particular, has created tension throughout the world-wide Anglican Communion. At 1998's Lambeth Conference of all Anglican bishops gathered from around the world, it was overwhelmingly declared that homosexual practice was incompatible with Scripture, and that the church was not free to bless such unions.

The move by the Diocese of New Westminster to flaunt this directive has been denounced at the highest levels of the Anglican Communion, including two successive Archbishops of Canterbury. Last fall in a global meeting of the Primates, the New Westminster crisis was once again on the agenda, and a statement issued at the conclusion of that meeting declared that the actions of the diocese were divisive and contrary to the mind of the Communion.

"We're extremely grateful to the Primates for this gracious and long-needed offer," said Carter, whose parish, Immanuel Church, Westside, (Vancouver) is not officially recognized by Ingham. The Rev. Carter's license was not renewed by Ingham.

"We have been without a bishop for almost 20 months. Our people and clergy are in great need of Episcopal oversight. People of deep religious conscience are tired and disillusioned with the system that many are leaving Anglicanism altogether. When our internal efforts failed, we were on the verge of having to leave Anglicanism completely. This will now enable us to have relief and move forward in mission while the wider Anglican Communion works out how to deal with false teaching in its midst, and the impending re-alignment."

END

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