Magazine article Anglican Journal

Ten Churches Vote to Leave: Property and Land Disputes May Be Decided in Court

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Ten Churches Vote to Leave: Property and Land Disputes May Be Decided in Court

Article excerpt

In February, 10 churches in five dioceses voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and affiliate with a South American Anglican church, in an ongoing dispute over Christian fundamentals, including Canada's more-liberal stance on homosexuality.

The churches said they were seeking episcopal oversight from retired bishop Donald Harvey, who is moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, a conservative group. They now consider Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Province of the Southern Cone their primate (national archbishop); his church includes most of southern South America.

The votes may result in lengthy civil court disputes, since diocesan bishops and the Canadian primate, Fred Hiltz, said parishes may not legally leave the church and take their buildings and property with them.

"In our Anglican tradition, individuals who choose to leave the church over contentious issues cannot take property and other assets with them. My hope is that no parish will take action that would compel parish or diocesan leaders to resolve property disputes in the civil courts. Such actions would not only be costly in terms of financial resources but also destructive of the witness of the church in the world," Archbishop Hiltz wrote in a Feb. 13 letter to the church.

Conservatives said their actions were based on principle. "All of these churches have acted because they are concerned about what is happening in (the Canadian church). They are determined to stay true to historic Christian teaching but see the (church) changing its teaching on fundamental, historic Christian teaching such as the authority of the Bible and salvation through Jesus Christ alone," said the Anglican Network in Canada in a statement.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate, or national archbishop, of the Canadian church, in an interview with the Anglican Journal, disagreed. "The issue is very much focused on issues of sexuality. The Anglican Church of Canada is not in a crisis when it comes to matters of faith such as the divinity of Christ, the incarnation or the resurrection. I don't know a bishop or a member of the clergy who week by week doesn't confess their faith in Christ as redeemer and as our saviour," said Archbishop Hiltz.

The primate said he regrets the churches' decision to leave, especially since Canadian bishops have agreed to allow conservative Canadian bishops to minister to disaffected congregations in their dioceses. …

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