Church property at heart of new battle

Published May 1, 2004

A legal battle looms in the diocese of New Westminster as four of its priests resigned over the issue of same-sex blessings, formed a new “fellowship of Anglican congregations and ministries” and those who have parishes vowed to take church properties with them.

Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster accepted the resignations last month, saying that, “while a parting of the ways is always sad, I am glad that they have finally clarified the situation and made it clear that they are leaving.”

In a statement published in the diocesan Web site, he added, “I had been trying to unsuccessfully to obtain clarification for the last two years.”

Two of the priests who have formed what they call the Anglican Communion in Canada (ACiC) – Rev. Barclay Mayo, former rector of St. Andrews, Pender Harbour, and Rev. Edward Hird, former rector of St. Simon’s, North Vancouver – are in parishes with lands and buildings. The other priests are Rev. Paul Carter, who was previously on leave without permission to officiate from the diocese, and Rev. Silas Ng, former incumbent of the Church of the Emmanuel, Richmond, whose parish rented facilities.

The diocese’s chancellor, George Cadman, said these properties are “either owned by the diocese or require diocesan consent to any dealings.” He added, “All parish lands and buildings in the diocese, of course, are held and administered for the benefit of the ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada in the diocese.”

Mr. Cadman said the diocesan council will decide how to proceed with the question of land and buildings. The council will discuss the matter when it meets either in June or September.

“Our canons are very clear that properties within the diocese can’t be disposed of without the approval of the diocesan council and the bishop,” he added.

The priests, however, said they would take the matter to court if the diocese seized the properties.

“Given that the land, church building and resources have been acquired, built and maintained wholly by the Anglican constituency of this community, it is our congregation’s intention to retain the beneficial and legal ownership of the said properties, buildings and resources for present and future orthodox Anglican ministry in this locale,” said Mr. Hird in a statement published on St. Simon’s Web site.

“The parishes will take him (Bishop Ingham) to court and argue that they are the rightful heirs and owners of the property,” said Mr. Carter in an interview with Christian Week magazine. “And if eventually they lose, they’ll walk away and start again.”

Mr. Carter said the priests formed the ACiC “to give us the appropriate legal and charitable status we need to continue to run our churches, to welcome other clergy and parishes and to church plant across Canada.”

The four priests are now “canonically residents in the province of Rwanda,” said Mr. Carter, and are under the leadership of Thomas J. Johnston, an Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) bishop from Little Rock, Ark., who has been asked by the primates of Central Africa, Congo, Rwanda and South East Asia to function as their “servant in the practical aspects of this oversight.” The AMiA groups conservative churches and clergy under the authority of some Anglican church leaders in Africa and Asia.


  • 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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