Difficult to recognize the church I once knew

Published December 1, 2004

Dear editor,

Behind the tribute to the late Archbishop Ted Scott, beyond Bishop Victoria Matthews’ thoughtful meditation, the stories in the September and October issues were those of a deeply conflicted church. To recognize it as the church in which I was baptized, confirmed and formed through countless bazaars, parish suppers, fundraisers and liturgies, was disturbing.

Of course, the current situation has been a long time coming. Peter Iveson’s quip in September’s letters, that more Prayer Book Anglicans must die before change occurs, echoes comments not uncommon during the pitched battles over liturgies in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, the issues are different but our church is no less adept at accommodating difference. Is it really surprising so many have left?

We all want a church that speaks clearly of the salvation Christ has gained for us. Both the Anglican parish I’m affiliated with and the Christian and Missionary Alliance church I attend with my girlfriend offer clear teaching (in sermons and through formal education programs) and opportunities to minister. The former invites the latter, drawing together people whose diverse backgrounds contribute to communities more dynamic and far closer to the inclusive ideal our national church has pursued.

Peter Mitham


The flock

Dear editor,

Your October editorial (" Who can blame them for leaving the church? ") laments the departure of "many gays and lesbians" from the Anglican church. What about those who have left because their own denomination blatantly rejected Scripture?

You say "many of the church’s flock have simply left quietly through the side door." If they are active gay Christians, then they never were part of the flock. They cannot be sheep unless they repent of their sin by accepting Jesus and asking forgiveness for their sinful actions.

I am 15 years old and 99 per cent ready to move to a Pentecostal church. The Anglican church has clearly been blinded by Satan and stepped off the straight and narrow path.

It turns out that youth are more informed about this issue than many realize. And they’re flocking to other churches.

Nathan Douglas

Cobourg, Ont.

Roman model

Dear editor,

The recent publication of the Windsor Report (" Report urges ‘expressions of regret’ " November) has shown that there is a total lack of leadership in the worldwide Anglican church. The time has come to return to the Roman Catholic model where we have a bishop at the head of the church with both legal and moral authority. That leader would be responsible to make decisions which are both legal and binding on provinces regardless of where they are located geographically.

The bishop of Rome would have taken steps to remove the irresponsible bishops who have destroyed the unity of this church and made it irrelevant to other denominations. We have spent so much time on dialogue with Rome seeking a unification of the church and then made every decision possible to totally destroy any chance of achieving this unity.

Jerry Pearce

Thunder Bay, Ont.

A lost sheep

Dear editor,

(Re: the release of the Windsor Report.) Peace be with you, but I have no peace today. I withdraw my communion with the Anglican Church of Canada. I will return the baptismal certificates for myself and my children. I will return the baptismal certificate for my daughter, whom you baptized a child of God, and yet you refuse sacraments to her.

Shame on you! You force me to be a lost sheep!

Lynn Holroyd

Peterborough Ont.

Regrets over disunity

Dear editor,

It will be interesting to see how the leaders of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the bishop of New Westminster will respond to the call of the Lambeth Commission to express their regrets over the disunity they have caused in seeking to enlarge the meaning of the word "marriage" to define and bless the union of members of the same sex.

Because he was consecrated by a substantial turnout of bishops, the bishop of New Hampshire enjoys the comfort of safety in numbers. The extent to which these leaders are prepared to express their own regrets remains to be seen.

The bishop of New Westminster is not helping by expelling congregations from their church buildings. Although he appears to have voiced his regrets, Bishop Michael Ingham’s actions will speak louder than his words.

Wallace Beaton

Woodbridge, Ont.

Keep it coming

Dear editor,

Last month’s Anglican Journal prompted me to positively respond to your recent request for financial support. The October edition was just as exciting with reports of internal conflict, exodus of bishops, dissidents refusing to leave premises, the briefing of Canterbury on sexuality, breaking news on the Lambeth Commission report and so much more.

Where else can one read about and follow the self-destruction of an organization?

Keep the Journal coming.

Keith Phinney


No apologies necessary

Dear editor,

I have been a proud and active member of the Anglican Communion for more than 40 years. A few years ago, many members of my church and I realized the error of our ways in not according our gay brothers and sisters the same respect and dignity we expect to give to the rest of our community. I (and many others) pray several times a week asking for forgiveness for our sins of omission and commission, including the harm we have done to so many of our congregation by excluding them from full participation in the life of the church.

Because of the controversy, I started attending a local United church occasionally. There is a loving and supportive community led by an articulate, Christian, and thoughtful minister who is openly gay. The pits of hell have not opened to swallow this church.

The peace I find in the United church community gives me the strength to continue in my church even though the Windsor Report urges us to go backwards and apologize for trying to follow the teachings of Jesus, as we understand them. The only apologies due are from leaders like the bishop of Saskatoon, who recently cancelled a concert because some members of his community expressed fear at the prospect of hearing music produced by gay vocal cords, and from the authors of the Windsor Report who, instead of seeking apologies from those who have hurt the gay and lesbian members of our community, have asked for apologies from those who accept the principle that it is immoral to discriminate against others on the basis of sexual orientation.

My struggle is not with homosexuality, but how to embrace those who wish to continue a policy of exclusiveness and discrimination. That is a much harder struggle.

Ron Brown

Low, Que.


Dear editor,

I agree with Rev. Michael Skliros (" Need to hear them, " November letters). There is clearly a breakdown between the "marriage" of so-called liberal and conservative Anglicans. We managed to get along reasonably well until the ordination of women and that seemed to be the catalyst for a major break-up in most parts of the Anglican Communion.

We have the Anglican Church of Australia at an impasse over ordaining women as bishops; a conservative parish in a liberal diocese in the United States calling a retired bishop from Newfoundland and Labrador; African Anglicans "ex-communicating" the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the diocese of New Westminster being called upon to apologize for doing what they perceive as the will of God.

When is it going to dawn on someone that the conservative and liberal parts of the Anglican Communion no longer want to dwell under the same roof?

To take up Mr. Skliros’ metaphor, it is a marriage that has broken down, and before the partners tear each other to pieces we should agree to divide in peace. We have been living apart for years: make it official.

It would not be the first time the church has found its renewal and mission by division.

Sheila Welbergen


Second thoughts

Dear editor,

Barry F.H. Graham’s letter (" Another definition, " November Journal) conveys a total misrepresentation of the concept of sanctuary in the medieval Anglican church. It must be remembered that until relatively recently, most crimes for which we would assess a punishment of imprisonment were punished be death by hanging or, in the case of some, death by dismemberment. The concept of sanctuary was that by confessing one’s crime to the coroner (crowner) and leaving the realm, one could save one’s life.

In modern practice, deportation to a country which practises torture and capital punishment would achieve the same thing as remaining in the realm of England in the medieval period would, namely, the death of the individual. Sanctuary forces the Canadian government to at least have second thoughts about its actions, and because of this, should continue to be exercised by the church.

Arthur E. Gans

Winfield, B.C.

True peace

Dear editor,

I have just finished reading the article " Program exposes children to other faiths " (October Journal ) and want to say how wonderful it is that the Kids4Peace program has been started in Canada. I envisage it spreading across Canada and around the world. My only regret is that it did not start years ago.

It is the children that can unite us all!

All my life — and I’m nearing 92 — I have prayed for true peace. Now perhaps, this will prove to be the beginning of a powerful movement towards it, and if it is so, I give great thanks to God that I am alive to see its start.

Lillian Thompson

Victoria Harbour, Ont.

Strong stance

Dear editor,

Israel ‘s presence in the occupied territories is an egregious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Since 1967 the Palestinians under Israeli occupation are stateless, since Israel, unlike the U.S. in the case of Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico, does not want 3.5 million Palestinian citizens. So on one hand, Israel does not confer any right onto the Palestinian population, but on the other hand, it imposes every hurdle within its reach on them.

Christians, including Anglicans/Episcopalians, are severely persecuted in Israel. There is a law in Israel that threaten proselytizing with prison terms, in order to deter evangelicals from converting others to Christianity.

I hope that by taking a strong stance on divesting assets from Israel, the Anglican Church of Canada would signal a message to Israel, that it cannot be above the law — that either it respects human rights, or cease to exist; either become a binational state for both Jews and Arabs, or let the Palestinians have their own sovereign country.

James Perry

Fort Erie, Ont.

A lovely word

Dear editor,

I am writing regarding your references to "gays." I am taking to task the whole media, which seems to include our church newspaper, for supporting this hijacking of one of the most beautiful words in the English language. I have known many people in my life that I would describe as gay. In fact, I have used the word in my memoirs whilst recalling a loved person. Do I leave the word there, or do I risk a misunderstanding when young people read my description of the person mentioned?

The people we are talking about can call themselves whatever they wish, but I am disappointed in writers who have also adopted the word, without a thought to the damage they have done to a lovely word.

Edward Harvey

Hamilton, Ont.

Beyond our ability

Dear editor,

I was intrigued by Wendy Beard’s notion (" Secular media starting to see religion not as a threat, " November letters). As a daily newspaper editor and an Anglo-Lutheran Franciscan, I am thoroughly familiar with the argument that religion has long been relegated to the back pages (when it has been covered at all), except when there has been a sexual issue worth blowing out of proportion.

I would contend, however, that the main problem for the media continues to be that nobody can honestly speak for spiritual people, either at the global level or at the house-church level. There are individual voices and there are small groups of people who can sometimes manage to momentarily agree on some matter of doctrine, but in general, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists are all over the board in their beliefs, and anybody who claims to speak authoritatively for all is looking to have his or her peace of mind thoroughly disturbed.

This is an obstacle for all the media (including the pulpit) and for most it is a matter of considerable frustration. But since media organizations are loaded with people who are spiritual, it is absurd to interpret this frustration as hostility or indifference. It is simply that there are some vital subjects that are truly beyond any mass medium’s ability to cover adequately. Religion will always be one of them.

Rolf Pedersen

Guelph, Ont.


Related Posts

Skip to content