Archbishop David Crawley, the acting primate, has written formal letters of protest to the primates of Central Africa, Congo, Rwanda and Southeast Asia saying their offer of “temporary adequate episcopal oversight” to New Westminster parishes opposed to same-sex blessings constitutes interference in the affairs of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Four out of 11 churches that do not recognize the authority of Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster and formed the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW) have accepted the offer.
“I regret that these four primates have chosen to interfere in the life of the Canadian church, especially since a task force has been set up by the house of bishops to develop and provide guidelines for episcopal oversight and it has not completed its work,” said Archbishop Crawley, who is metropolitan of the church province of British Columbia and Yukon, in an interview. “It was made clear over 100 years ago and restated in the 1998 Lambeth Conference, in a motion made by two Canadian bishops, that primates should not interfere in each other’s affairs.”
Bishop Victoria Matthews, chair of the task force created by the house of bishops to look into the issue of adequate episcopal oversight for dissenters, said the offer was “unfortunate.” (See related story on the task force’s findings)
One of the primates who made the offer, Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa, is a member of the Lambeth Commission created to find ways of preserving the Anglican Communion. The Church of England Newspaper said there was an unconfirmed report that members of the commission had “chastised” Archbishop Malango for his action.
St. Andrews, Pender Harbour, Church of Emmanuel (Richmond), St. Simon’s ( North Vancouver) and Immanuel Church West side announced in a press statement that they were accepting the offer. Seven other ACiNW member congregations are “mulling their options,” said the coalition.
(A fifth primate, from Kenya, later joined the alliance of primates offering oversight, according to a news release from one of the parishes.)
Bishop Ingham said the acceptance by the four parishes of pastoral care from overseas “means that (they) have given up on the Anglican Church of Canada.” He said in an interview that the move “pre-empted the work of the (bishops’) task force.” Last year, Bishop Ingham asserted his authority as diocesan bishop and prevented Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon from coming in as a “flying bishop.” Bishop Buckle had made an offer to oversee the dissenting parishes, which he later withdrew after the task force was formed.
In a statement, ACiNW spokesperson Lesley Bentley expressed the hope that the national church would make the same offer of episcopal oversight. “This may be a sign that time is running out,” she said.
Rev. Paul Carter executive director of ACiNW and priest at Immanuel Church Westside (a church plant not affiliated with the diocese of New Westminster), said the offer of episcopal oversight “will now enable us to have relief and move forward in mission while the Anglican Communion works out how to deal with false teaching in its midst, and the impending re-alignment.”