The Anglican Church of Canada and homosexuality
Parishes leaving the
Church: 2008 to now
One item that has not been clarified is the ownership of the parish churches
and other property. Chief legal officer of the New Westminster Diocese
George Cadman claims that it legally belongs to the diocese, not to the parish.
1 The parishes who have left probably disagree. After all,
the individual congregations have probably all designed their churches, raised
the down payment, obtained a mortgage, paid off the mortgage, funded the
maintenance, taxes, salaries, etc. without any financial input from their
There has been a proliferation of websites in
Canada which oppose equal treatment of gays and lesbians within the Church. Many
including "Anglican" or "Anglican Communion" in their names. Sarah
Lublink, a conservative Anglican in Toronto has registered three domain names:
http://www.anglicancommunionnetwork.ca. All were dormant in 2004 and
continue in that state until our last check in 2008-FEB.
Events during 2008:
- 2008-FEB-17: ON & BC: Six parishes leave the Anglican Church of Canada: Parishioners in six parishes in Ontario and British Columbia voted over the
weekend of 2008-FEB-17 to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, and accept the episcopal oversight of Bishop Donald Harvey, Moderator of the Anglican Network
in Canada, under under the Primatial authority of Archbishop Gregory Venables
and the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. This province includes six
countries in South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and
- St. George's Campbellville, ON who voted 128 in favor, 3 opposed and 1
- St. Hilda's Oakville ON (86,0,1)
- St, Chad's Toronto ON (12,10,2)
- St Mary's, Victoria BC (105,14,3)
- St. Alban's, Ottawa ON (77,1,1)
- St. Matthew's, Abbotsford, BC (186,4,5)
In addition, one congregation that was not part of the ACC voted to accept
Bishop Harvey's oversight:
- Holy Cross, Abbotsford, BC (23,0,0)
Rev. Canon Charlie Maters is priest at St. George's -- one of the breakaway
parishes -- and is national director of the Anglican Network in Canada. He has
been suspended with pay. Diocese personnel have asked the breakaway Anglicans to
turn over the keys to their church properties or face legal action. Reverend Dr.
Richard Jones, secretary of synod for the Anglican church's Niagara Diocese told
the Toronto Star newspaper: "If they don't turn in the keys, we are planning
to go and physically try to take possession of the parishes by showing up and
asking them for the keys." He said that under church law, local parishes
hold their property in trust for the local diocese. If the parishes break with
the national body, they can no longer remain trustees of its property. Cheryl
Chang, lawyer for the ANiC said that the Anglican Church of Canada has
become too liberal, has abandoned historical Christian teachings and thus has no
claim to properties built in the name of traditional beliefs. 3,4
A case could be made that the Anglican Church of Canada has abandoned a
number of historical Christian beliefs down through the years. These include
condoning human slavery and restricting the priesthood to male believers. By Ms.
Chang's reasoning, the national body would have no claim to most Anglican land,
church buildings, etc. because the ACC now repudiates slavery and sexism.
- 2008-FEB-24: ON: Churches in Oakville & Lowville have two priests - temporarily:
St. Hilda's Anglican Church in Oakville, ON voted unanimously to
sever ties from their diocese. The Diocese of Niagara sent Rev. Brian
Ruttan as a relief priest, apparently to preach to St. Hilda's parishioners.
Unfortunately none showed up. Fearing a low turnout, the diocese had encouraged
members of three other Anglican churches in the area to attend the service at
St. Hilda's. About two dozen strangers turned up. A half hour after Ruttan left
the building, a regular service was held by Rev. Paul Charbonneau. More than 100
members turned out for what they feared might be their last service.
Parishioners Rosanne Kendall said:
"The church is the people and the most important part of St. Hilda's is
our fellowship with each other, but we've grown quite attached to this
place. ... The message of the church is not about bickering and lawyers. ...
The message of the church is love."
About 150 members of the congregation of St. George's Church in Lowville,
ON who want to stay in the Diocese turned out for an early morning service
led by an imported bishop. Later, the regular service led by breakaway
leader Rev. Charles Masters drew 180 members. Rev. Masters,
is also national director of the Anglican Network in Canada. He
"We simply want to remain with the mainstream of the worldwide
Anglican communion. All we want to do is be true Anglicans."
Parishioner Paula Valentine said:
"It's not for us to rationalize. The Solemn Declaration of 1893 puts
the Anglican Church under the umbrella of the Church of England and says
that it will not change holy script, it will deliver it to the people as
it's written ... and the vows that this church took to be part of that.
... They've gone against that. But those vows are important. Those
things matter to us. ... We are being penalized by the very church that
has moved away from those fundamental beliefs."
- 2008-FEB-26: ON:
Letter to the editor by the
Anglican Bishop of Toronto: The Right Rev. Colin R. Johnson, Bishop of
"Crisis in the Anglican Church of Canada? I
think not! While it is always a matter of great regret when anyone
chooses to leave, surely recent reports of schism in Canada need some
context. Of the approximately 2,300 parishes in Canada, about 15 have
voted to 'walk apart'."
"The Diocese of Toronto continues to welcome clergy and people of
conservative and liberal persuasion, as well as people -- the majority --
for whom such labels make no sense. We are committed to building
communities of hope and compassion. We continue to offer faithful
worship of God, to nurture young and old, to help form moral lives, to
comfort the sick and grieving, and to work with and advocate on behalf
of the poor." 6
- 2008-FEB-26: BC: Two congregations ask
permission to offer same-sex blessings: Currently, only eight churches in
the New Westminster Diocese in Vancouver, British Columbia are permitted to
provide blessings to loving-committed same-sex couples. None are permitted to
actually marry same-sex couples. The Church of the Holy Spirit in Whonnock and St. Mary
in Kerrisdale passed motions at their vestries (annual meetings) asking
permission to bless unions if and when their diocesan bishop Michael Ingham
lifts the moratorium.
- At St. Mary's, the votes were 86% in favor. Rev. Kevin Dixon said:
"We feel a responsibility to ensure that what has been begun in
the diocese is completed. We made a decision in 2002 to permit the
blessing of same-sex relationships and we need to be sure it is
enacted where appropriate."
- Rev. David Findley-Priceof Holy Spirit church, wrote to a local
"... as an Anglican Christian I am prepared to ask God to bless
the union of people who love each other as a part of the natural
order of creation. I personally feel blessed to be a part of the
diocese that is courageous and willing to look at the revealed
evidence of science in how we approach life and our relationship
with God." 7
- 2008-FEB-28: ON:
Attempt to reach out-of-court
settlement fails: Discussions between the Niagara Diocese and three
dissenting congregations in Lowville, Oakville and St. Catharines failed.
- 2008-FEB-29: ON: Niagara
Diocese loses initial court
skirmish: The Diocese and three congregations appeared in court before
Justice James Ramsay.
- The diocese asked that both the diocese and the
Anglican Network be allowed to hold separate services on MAR-02, 09, and 16.
They noted that between 25 and 40 parishioners at St. George's did not want
to join the Anglican Network.
- The Anglican Network asked for exclusive use
of their church buildings, with the intent of banning any additional service
by the Diocese.
Justice Ramsay issued an interim injunction giving the
Network control of the church buildings. Parishioners loyal to the Anglican
Church will have to go elsewhere.
Rev. Masters of St. George's Church in Lowville, ON said
that the Network parishes would have walked away from their churches rather
than share the property with the diocese. He said: "We need the
separation in order to move ahead."
Bishop Michael Bird said:
"I am disappointed with the decision today,
but we have to respect and abide by it. I feel for those faithful
members of the parishes. We will try to make some arrangement for them
if we possibly can."
The principals return to the court on MAR-20 for what is expected to be a
longer-term ruling. It will undoubtedly be appealed in a legal battle that
will probably last for many years. 9
- 2008-JUN-11: The synod of the diocese of the Arctic criticizes
four dioceses: The synod passed a motion criticizing the dioceses
of Ottawa, Montreal, Niagara, and Huron who have asked their bishops to give
their clergy permission to bless homosexual marriages in a church ritual.
The synod also passed a motion concerning the 15 parishes that have
broken away from the Anglican Church of Canada to join the Anglican province
of the Southern Cone. The latter province includes the southern part of
South America. The Arctic synod noted that even though they have left the
Canadian province, they remain within the Anglican Communion.
- 2009: Supreme Court rules that church property stays with diocese: The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that the diocese of New Westminister should retain possession of four churches whose congregations have left the Anglican Church of Canada and joined the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). They are St. John’s in Shaughnessy, St. Matthew’s in Abbotsford, Good Shepherd in Vancouver, and St. Matthias & St. Luke’s also in Vancouver. 11
Justice Stephen Kelleher of the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled that the diocese should retain possession of all four properties of He also ruled that a $2.2 million bequest from a parishioner in the Good Shepherd parish should be held in trust for the building fund of the ANiC congregation.
- 2010-NOV: Court of Appeal upholds Supreme Court ruling: The British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the 2009 ruling of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. 11
- 2011-JAN-17: Four congregations appeal to Supreme Court: According to the Anglican Journal News, the four B.C. congregations filed an application with the Supreme Court of Canada to review the 2010-NOV decision by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Michael Ingham, the bishop of the diocese of New Westminster, said that he was saddened with the appeal, that the decision is "costly and divisive, [and that it would] consume even more of the time, energy and money that should be used for the mission of the Church." He said the dispute had forced the diocese to cut back on its ministry to patients of St. Paul’s and Vancouver hospitals, and its support for ministries involving churches in the north as well as overseas with its partners in the Anglican Communion.
The appeal is expected to be heard in the Fall of 2011 or later. 11
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- The Orthodox Members of St. Martin's Have formed St. Timothy's Church, A
member of the Anglican Communion in Canada," St. Martins, at:
- Marites N. Sison, "Who owns the name 'Anglican'? Question is raised:
'what's in a name?," Episcopal News Service, 2004-MAY-26, at:
- "More Anglican congregations decide their future," Anglican Coalition in
Canada, 2008-FEB-17, at: http://www.acicanada.ca/
- Stuart Laidlaw, "Breakaway Anglicans asked to hand over keys," The Toronto
Star, 2008-FEB-20, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- Jim Wilkes, "Preaching duel no contest; Competing services held at
Oakville church as Anglican dispute heads to courtroom," Toronto Star,
2008-FEB-25, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- C.R. Johnson, "Anglican Church is doing just fine," Toronto Star,
2008-FEB-28, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- Slange de Santis, "Two churches ask to offer same-sex blessings.
Moratorium still in place in New Westminster," Anglican Journal,
- "Talks with dissident Anglican parishes end," Canadian Press,
2008-FEB-28, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- Stuart Laidlaw, "Diocese loses use of churches. Court gives breakaway
Anglicans exclusive right to hold services for next two Sundays," The
Toronto Star, 2008-MAR-01, at:
- Marites N. Sison, "Arctic synod says recent same-sex blessing votes hurt
church unit," ACC Web News, 2008-JUN-11.
- "Breakaway B.C. churches appeal to Supreme Court of Canada," Anglican Journal, 2011-JAN-17, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com
Copyright © 2008 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2011-JAN-17
Author: B.A. Robinson