From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3316 New Westminster talks in limbo

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Fri, 21 Feb 2003 10:14:33 -0000

ACNS 3316     |     CANADA     |     20 FEBRUARY 2003

New Westminster talks in limbo

by Jane Davidson

[Anglican Church of Canada] Amid reports that reconciliation talks between
the diocese of New Westminster and eight conservative parishes had reached
an impasse, cracks have appeared in the parishes' coalition between those
who would like to continue dialogue and those who seem ready to accept an
offer of an alternative bishop.

The eight parishes, which call themselves the Anglican Communion in New
Westminster (ACiNW), walked out of the diocesan synod last June after a vote
approving same-sex blessings was passed. Parish representatives had been
meeting with Bishop Michael Ingham and diocesan members since December in an
attempt at reconciliation, which was recommended by the house of bishops
last October. The two sides had met three times and mostly discussed

Events heated up when a diocesan news release, issued 12 Feb, said
reconciliation talks had stalled and that the eight parishes wished to
pursue separation.

"At this moment we have no plans to meet again," wrote Bishop Michael
Ingham, adding that the diocesan side thought "a terminus had been reached."

Two days later, the ACiNW issued its own release, countering the diocese's
version of events. It said the eight parishes had asked for time to assess
their options.

"The facilitator, Gordon Sloan, issued a memo on the morning of 12 February
2003 saying the ACiNW needed a few more days to decide," the release said.
"But that afternoon, an article was received by the media, and posted on the
diocesan web site, falsely alleging that the ACiNW wanted to talk only about

The bishop had said in an interview that the door was still open. "We'll
stay at the table and talk to anyone who wants to talk with us. We've asked
Mr Sloan to continue to go back and forth to see what's possible."

Two ACiNW leaders, the Revd Ed Hird and the Revd Paul Carter, recently sent
out email messages outlining their continued efforts to find a new bishop
with full episcopal authority from conservative groups within Canada or the
United States. Mr Carter told the Vancouver Sun last month that a new
bishop - non-Canadian - was "very close at hand."

The group has stated that they would prefer a Canadian bishop, but church
protocol would almost certainly prevent it. Bishop Terence Buckle of the
Yukon has twice offered to act as an alternative bishop to the ACiNW so that
they could remain with the Canadian church.

"I offered that then and I still believe it could work as a temporary
solution to hold things together, to enable time to pass so that the
Canadian church can come to some resolution on the matter." Meanwhile, the
future of the reconciliation remains unclear.

Mr Carter, Executive Director of ACiNW, said on 12 Feb, "We're very clear
the simple reconciliation the bishop has been talking about is not enough
for us." He said that the ACiNW had fulfilled the request of the house of
bishops to try reconciliation.

Bishop Ingham said, "Over and over again we have emphasised that we are not
asking them to do anything they don't want to do (participating in same-sex
blessings). They have taken the position that you cannot be in fellowship
with anyone who is sinful."

But one parish sounded less willing to abandon the reconciliation process.
The Revd Felix Orji, associate priest at St John's, Shaughnessy,
acknowledged there was some difference of opinion within the ACiNW itself.

"I am not going to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, St John's is not
going to leave and most of the ACiNW parishes will not leave, no matter what
happens," said Mr Orji, who is also a member of the faith, worship and
ministry committee task group charged with presenting the same-sex issue to
General Synod in 2004.

The best course, said Mr Orji, would be for everyone, including Bishop
Ingham, to wait for General Synod.

"If he doesn't hold off (same sex blessings) there will be chaos," said Mr
Orji. "People are angry on both sides." Mr Orji said he thought the ACiNW
could accept whatever General Synod decided on same-sex blessings, and hoped
that synod would also allow alternative episcopal oversight if it allowed
same-sex blessings.


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