The Council of General Synod (CoGS) voted today to recognize the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) as a territory in the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon with “the status of a diocese.”
The motion, passed by consensus, guarantees that the territory will have membership in General Synod in the same way that other dioceses do, and grants it authority to elect its own bishop.
Since the diocese of Cariboo ceased to operate in 2001 after being bankrupted by lawsuits related to St. George’s Indian Residential School in Lytton, B.C., APCI has been unable to function as an independent diocese. For instance, it relies on permission from the ecclesiastical province to elect bishops and delegates to General Synod.
APCI voted at its synod in May to regularize its status, a decision that was upheld by the synod of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon this fall. But because land was technically being shifted from the diocese of Cariboo-which still exists as a legal entity-to the territory of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, the decision could not be finalized without a motion passed by CoGS, the governing body in between General Synods. The CoGS vote was the last stamp of approval needed for the decision, which will take effect immediately.
While no one opposed the motion, there were some questions. Dean Peter Wall, of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, wanted to know why APCI was not simply becoming a diocese again.
“I’d be interested in the explanation of the ‘territory’ as the choice of word, as opposed to other words that we might use, such as diocese,” he said.
The chancellor of General Synod, Canon (lay) David Jones, said that concern over the term “diocese” sprang from Cariboo’s troubled history with residential schools.
“There is a feeling that the diocese of Cariboo had a history that was unfortunate,” he said. “To create a new diocese-by the name of a diocese-called ‘the diocese of the Central Interior’…for good reason, APCI and the provincial synod decided not to do that.”
Because an allowance for territory as an administrative unit already existed within the canons of the province, APCI chose to refer to itself as such, said Jones. He noted that a precedent exists in the case of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, which likewise has the status as a diocese without naming itself as such.