Archbishop David Crawley, saying that his 43 years in active ministry has been “a marvelous time,” has announced he intends to retire on Nov. 30 as bishop of the diocese of Kootenay and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical (church) province of British Columbia and the Yukon.
“I turned 67 in July and I’m getting a bit long in the tooth in this job,” he said in an interview with Anglican Journal. “I had intended to retire sometime (earlier) this year,” he noted, but remained to provide senior leadership as interim primate, or national archbishop, from February through May 2004. Archbishop Michael Peers retired as primate in February and the current primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, was elected on May 31. Archbishop Crawley declined a nomination for the office of primate at the General Synod governing convention in May. “I’ve worked hard for a long time and I’m tired,” he said at the time in an interview.
Born in Manitoba, he attended university in Manitoba and Canterbury, England. He served parishes in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver before being elected bishop of Kootenay in 1990. He was elected metropolitan (senior bishop) in 1994.
Archbishop Crawley has had a particularly stressful time in office in recent years. A neighbouring diocese, Cariboo, in central British Columbia, closed its synod office at the end of 2001 under the financial pressure of lawsuits alleging abuse in native residential schools and since then, Archbishop Crawley has also overseen that diocese.
As senior bishop in the province, he began disciplinary proceedings in 2003 against Terrence Buckle, bishop of the Yukon, for interfering in the diocese of New Westminster, where several parishes opposed to same-sex blessings asked him to be their bishop. Discipline was suspended when Bishop Buckle agreed to withdraw. He also has not yet determined the fate of Bishop William Anderson of Caledonia, who licensed a former Episcopalian priest in the United States diocese of Wyoming. The bishop of Wyoming has lodged a formal complaint with Archbishop Crawley against Bishop Anderson.
The next election for metropolitan will include one candidate identified with a liberal view of homosexuals in the church, Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster, and two bishops aligned with conservatives, Bishop Buckle and Bishop Anderson. The province has six dioceses, the fewest of any province in the Canadian church.
Leadership questions in the province are “a concern” for Archbishop Crawley as he prepares to leave. However, he added, “I believe what Harry Truman said, that many people are indispensable but no one’s irreplaceable. They’ll work it out.”
Archbishop Crawley also served on the national church team that negotiated an agreement with the federal government (signed in 2003) that limited church liability to $25 million in lawsuits concerning allegations of abuse at native residential schools.
This past year, with four jobs — bishop of two dioceses, metropolitan and interim primate — he had been away from home about 50 per cent of the time, he said, and his wife and 12-year-old daughter were glad to hear that he had set a date for retirement. (Archbishop Crawley also has two adult daughters.)
He has several plans for retirement, he said. “I have reawakened a long-ago interest in simple carpentry and I’m going to build some stuff. My retirement date also happens to be the start of ski season,” said the man who has described himself as an “obsessive” skier.
He has also had an invitation from a small American publisher to write a book of essays but said that his real dream is “to write a column for a monthly or weekly newspaper.” He also said he likes to cook and “always wanted to learn to make sausage.”
Despite the stresses, he said, he has enjoyed his career in the church. “It offers challenge and creativity and interesting people and the opportunity to work very hard for a purpose beyond your own purposes, not just for yourself but for something greater than yourself,” he said.