Calgary church closures will stand

Published January 1, 2005

A motion to rescind the decision by the diocese of Calgary’s executive council to disestablish three of its parishes was defeated during a recent synod.

But delegates supported motions that called on the diocese to ensure that any future closures are done with consultation and a more pastoral process. The decisions came after many clergy and lay delegates expressed anger at what they said was a lack of consultation regarding the closures of the parishes of St. Edmund’s, St. Gabriel’s and All Saints’. Parishioners from the three parishes said the closures “stunned” them.

Rev. Paul Orritt, of St. Peter’s, Okotoks, introduced the motion to rescind the closure saying that the decision of the bishop and the executive had been “pre-emptive and precipitous.”

Rev. Helen Blecher, of Good Shepherd, Calgary, spoke out against the motion saying that while the process was “not perfect, and maybe there was some insensitivity in the process,” she believed that the decisions were “not made lightly but with a great deal of pain and sleepless nights.”

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who was present during the debate at synod, called it “a difficult conversation, a good conversation.”

He recalled that in his former diocese of Montreal, the diocese had lost 75 per cent of its membership during the past 30 years – from 100,000 parishioners to 24,000, but that there remained 140 churches.

“Everyone knew it was wrong. It couldn’t be maintained,” he said. “It’s a reality. It’s painful.”

With files from The Sower


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