Bishops were right to delay decision on oversight

Published September 1, 2004

Dear editor, The bishops’ disagreement about alternative episcopal oversight ( Bishops delay oversight decision , May) is essentially a question of donatism. The donatist heresy claimed that sacraments were impaired if the person performing them was heretical or unorthodox. The church roundly denounced this heresy as early as the fourth century, affirming that a sacrament does not depend on the worthiness of the person performing it. Parishes in New Westminster are requesting alternative episcopal oversight because they feel their bishop is not orthodox. A bishop’s ministry does not depend on his or her believing or doing the same thing as the members of a particular parish. The bishop is bishop by virtue of his or her election and consecration, and, unless the bishop actually renounces faith in Christ, he or she remains bishop. Believing that the church can bless gays does not constitute a renunciation of faith in Christ. To grant alternative episcopal oversight to a parish which does not agree with its bishop on this issue would change the whole structure of the church to a congregationalist model. This should not be decided as a side issue to blessing gay relationships. It needs to be discussed directly by the whole church. The bishops were right to delay a decision. Michelle Bull Berwick , N.S.

Troubling news

Dear editor,

This choirmaster’s presence troubles me too! ( Choirmaster’s presence troubles bishops , June-July)

I was surprised to read that John Gallienne has been permitted to participate formally in worship at St. John the Evangelist, Ottawa , and astonished to read that Bishop Peter Coffin had ?acquiesced? in the matter. In my view, had Mr. Gallienne fully recognized the extent and significance of his transgression, he would never again have sought or accepted an opportunity to participate in music ministry in an Anglican church. His failure to recognize the potential impact of his return to such duties is unfortunate. That his misplaced decision would not have been overruled by the priest and/or bishop is incomprehensible to me.

John Thorpe

London , Ont.

Embodied love

Dear editor,

I first personally experienced Archbishop Ted Scott’s commitment to social justice through his support for my work related to Canada ‘s involvement in the Vietnam War ( Archbishop Ted Scott dies in car accident, Anglican Journal Web site, June 22).

But as a young Catholic involved in the broader church community, it was also Ted Scott’s capacity to question the fractured Christian reality that resonated with me. He expressed not only pastoral longing for deeper unity, but also a more rare prophetic pain and outrage at the disunity. His was an embodied love for the whole church community.

Leonard Desroches


Never a good time

Dear editor,

?Not now? is probably not a good time for a unified prayer book ( Synod says ?not now’ to a unified prayer book , June/July). Let’s wait till more prayer book Anglicans die off!

Many Anglicans now refer to the now tattered Book of Alternative Services as the new prayer book and the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as the old prayer book.

You would not know the measure of nastiness I had to put up with from a member of the clergy of the diocese of Ottawa when I had to arrange my parent’s funeral last year. My mother wanted the BCP used, the so-called ?official? prayer book in a parish church.

Peter Iveson


Time to listen

Dear editor,

General Synod acted wisely in deferring any decision on blessing same-sex unions until 2007.

I will keep my own opinions on blessing or not blessing same-sex unions to myself. I believe the time has come for listening, not speaking. As a communion, we need to grow in love and compassion for each other and listen to people as they express their pains and fears.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, speaking on how the Jewish Sanhedrin might deal with those preaching the gospel of Christ, the Rabbi Gamaliel gave wise advice we might all pay attention to at this time. I urge readers to look at Acts 5:34-39, for it is advice that has proven true in many crises in our church history. Following it has allowed God, speaking through the Holy Spirit, to get His word in over our anger and shouting.

I suspect that if we follow Gamaliel’s advice, both sides will be pleasantly surprised.

Wayne Madden

Fort McMurray , Alta.


Dear editor,

Isn’t ?deferral? just a polite word for ?No?? ( Synod defers decision on blessings, Anglican Journal Web site, June 2)

Jack Bush

Haliburton, Ont.

Hiding from reality

Dear editor,

Media reports on General Synod’s decision to defer the vote on the issue of same-sex blessings brought to mind a collection of dithering old traditionalists caught in a time-warp.

Why are the liberal and progressive voices of our bishops too timid to be heard? Why have they been deluded by the mantra of ?church unity? which, at its best, is a speckled reality and at its worst, is nothing more than a stalling tactic for the outdated conservative and literal mindset? Is it any wonder that Henry VIII used a pre-emptive strike to effect change in his day? Perhaps in retrospect, Henry has provided a timeless working model for concerned Anglican laypeople to utilize when their leadership has cowardly fumbled and lost the ball. We can only hope that General Synod members will go home and pick up Jack Good’s new book The Dishonest Church and do some serious reflection. Contacting the Centre for Progressive Christianity’s Web site ( also would be constructive professional development.

Hugh Armstrong, Audrey Thrasher, Sandy Blackmore

Burnt River, Ont.

Anglican is global

Dear editor,

Re: Who owns the name ?Anglican’? (June/July)

It is amazing to watch the machinations of liberalism when it is felt that there are ways and means of true and honest information spoiling the party-line spin on any given situation.

I am first a Christian; secondly an Anglican whose faith is based upon that of the English Reformation in accordance with the Solemn Declaration and as currently expressed by the majority of the worldwide Communion; and thirdly a member of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). Thus, even if I cease to be a member of what may still continue to call itself the ACC, I would still be an Anglican ? and maybe one who worships within another Anglican community inside Canada .

With the direction she is going as compared with the majority of the worldwide Communion, it may become more legitimate to question the ACC’s right to use the term ?Anglican.?

Larry Winslow

Sandy Lake , Man.

Welcoming all

Dear editor,

The national church has spoken often of our need to be a welcoming, safe place for people of a wide variety of beliefs, opinions and practices. But I am profoundly distressed that one voice is clearly unwelcome and is not being heard.

At General Synod there was a motion to include in future discussions gays or lesbians who have left the homosexual lifestyle. This was defeated. I am appalled! Where is balance, openness and welcome to all? These sisters and brothers in Christ are an important resource for the whole body of Christ. It is important for all of us to hear the story of those who have found that the grace of God has enabled them to pursue their choice to leave their former life. How else can we give pastoral care and support to any who want to follow their lead?

Let us fully welcome all voices.

Margaret Willoughby

Milton, Ont.

Look elsewhere

Dear editor,

If Greg Robinson has problems belonging to a church, which blesses same-sex unions ( Cannot belong , Letters, June/July), perhaps he should look elsewhere

If our church continues to live in the past with perspectives such as the dubious one enjoyed by Mr. Robinson, then perhaps it’s time for everyone to look elsewhere.

Stephen K. Suh

Canmore, Alta.

Blend in

Dear editor,

People accuse homosexuals of demanding notoriety and speaking out. I believe that the majority of homosexuals don’t prefer the limelight, but want to blend in with everyone else as human beings.

I have three strikes against me in this great society: One, I’m a woman. Two, I’m disabled. Three, I’m a lesbian.

Most likely after this, I will be asked to resign from my position as church librarian and if I remain in my church, will most likely be treated with disdain. Many times, I’ve been made to feel like my place is at the back of the bus.

I fervently pray that we will be allowed to live in peace and accepted as part of the family of God.

Audrey Watson

Burnaby , B.C.


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