B.C. and Yukon provincial electoral college postpones APCI suffragan bishop election

By on April 3, 2009

Archbishop Terrence Buckle, Metropolitan (senior bishop) of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon, has acknowledged that the provincial electoral college’s decision to endorse a motion from its house of bishops postponing the election of a suffragan bishop to the metropolitan for the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) has “caused pain.” “I recognize and accept that this decision has caused pain to APCI and to the individuals most closely affected by this decision,” said Archbishop Buckle in a statement. “I also recognize and accept that the church ought to have identified the concerns of the bishops before and not after APCI engaged in its nomination process in 2008 and 2009.”APCI clergy and laity were stunned when the provincial house of bishops and the electoral college of the provincial synod, which met March 27, announced that the election had been deferred to September. The nominating assembly of APCI had elected Rev. Barbara Andrews on March 7 as its nominee for bishop suffragan to the metropolitan with responsibilities for APCI. Since APCI is not a diocese but is administered from Archbishop Buckle’s office in Whitehorse, it cannot elect a bishop outright, and Ms. Andrews’ name was submitted to the electoral college of the province for confirmation. The canon or church law approved by the provincial synod in 2003 also states that the electoral college, made up of bishops and the provincial council, may name other nominees. When APCI nominated its first bishop, Gordon Light, in 2004, he went through the same nomination process and was confirmed by the provincial electoral college. Bishop Light retired in December. Archbishop Buckle, who is also diocesan bishop of the Yukon, said the bishops made the “unanimous request” to defer the election, for three reasons: “to establish a time line for the reactivation of the diocese of Cariboo; to bring clarity to the issue of length of term of service of the suffragan bishop; and to review the process by which APCI recommends a nominee to assist with episcopal oversight of APCI.” All the bishops of the dioceses comprising the province of British Columbia and Yukon, except Bishop James Cowan of the diocese of British Columbia, were present at the meeting, said Archbishop Buckle. The other dioceses comprising the province are Caledonia, New Westminster, Yukon, Kootenay, and the parishes of the former diocese of Cariboo, now called APCI.In a telephone interview, Ms. Andrews said, “At this point, I have to just accept the decision…I believe the B.C. and Yukon house of bishops to be composed of men of goodwill and they made the decision out of concern for some issues.” But she acknowledged that it had been “a difficult decision to hear,” and that she had been “stunned and bewildered” when she was informed about it. Ms. Andrews, who is a priest from the diocese of Kootenay, is widely known as the executive director of the Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre in B.C. She said that the centre, through its chair of the board, Archbishop David Crawley, the former metropolitan of B.C. and Yukon, have been “wonderfully supportive” of her but she noted that the deferment of the election “does leave them in limbo” as well. The dean and administrator of APCI, Louise Peters, declined to comment on the decision, saying it was Archbishop Buckle who could respond to queries. Sought for comment, Bishop Light said he was “feeling sorrowful and distressed for the folks out there…for all involved,” because “the process that was underway seems to have gone awry.” He refused further comment saying, “A wise man once told me that when you leave a parish, or in this case, the Central Interior, the first rule of leaving is to leave and I did that.” Some clergy and laity, who did not wish to be identified, have expressed anger and frustration, noting the time and expense involved in the nomination and election process, as well as its impact on Ms. Andrews. Some questioned why a bishop could not have been elected while the concerns, including the process of discerning whether APCI would be constituted as a diocese, are being addressed. Archbishop Buckle said he gave his assent to the bishops’ motion and it was endorsed by the electoral college. A copy of the synod meeting minutes said the motion was approved “after much discussion in support of APCI’s self-determination.” The synod also requested the clergy and laity of APCI “to continue with their visioning process already under way.” Archbishop Buckle said that over the next few weeks and months he intends to “work with APCI to respond to the concerns raised by the provincial house of bishops.” APCI was created after the diocesan synod of Cariboo closed in 2001 after the huge financial toll exacted by lawsuits alleging abuse at Indian residential schools.

Author

  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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