Magazine article Anglican Journal

Divisions over Same-Sex Blessings Deepen over 'Illegal' Actions

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Divisions over Same-Sex Blessings Deepen over 'Illegal' Actions

Article excerpt

The split between conservative parishes in the diocese of New Westminster and diocesan leaders widened in September as a bishop from outside the diocese was "commissioned" by two foreign primates and diocesan bishop Michael Ingham moved to exert authority over one dissenting church.

The commissioning took place Sept. 7 at a gathering at South Delta Baptist Church in Delta, B.C. In a four-hour service featuring singing, prayers and speeches, about 1,600 people gathered to support the nine parishes calling themselves the AngliCan Communion in New Westminster, according to Chris Hawley, a spokesman for the parishes. The parishes broke with the diocese last year, refusing to pay their assessments, after the diocesan synod voted to approve offering blessings to gay couples.

Primates Bernard Malango of Central Africa and Kunnumpurathu Samuel of South India commissioned Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon "to provide pastoral over sight to those parishes," according to Mr. Hawley. Anglican bishops do not have jurisdiction in other dioceses and Bishop Ingham has served notice that Bishop Buckle is inhibited from performing priestly duties in New Westminster, which is based in Vancouver. Bishop Buckle is currently facing disciplinary action from Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan, or senior bishop, of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon.

"I have requested of him as a matter of obedience that he withdraw his offer of jurisdiction over those parishes in New Westminster. He has refused to do so," Archbishop Crawley paid in an interview.

The archbishop added that he was not clear as to the intention of the commissioning ceremony, but saw it as "clearly another step along the road in (Bishop Buckle's) claim to exercise episcopal jurisdiction over those churches."

Also attending the gathering were seven other Canadian bishops, two American bishops and other conservative leaders.

On the same weekend, Bishop Ingham invoked a diocesan canon, or church law, and dismissed the wardens, youth minister, trustees and church committee of St. Martin's church in North Vancouver, one of the dissenting parishes. The church had been without a priest since last January, when Rev. Timothy Cooke resigned to protest the same-sex blessing decision. Some members of the parish were unwilling "to search for (a priest) through the normal diocesan process," Bishop Ingham said in a statement.

Also, in July, the congregation voted by a 59.8 per cent majority to accept Bishop Buckle as "their alternative bishop," according to the parish Web site.

Bishop Ingham appointed three parishioners, two of whom were existing wardens, as bishop's wardens to bring "stability and normalcy" to the parish. …

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