Dissident priests asked to vacate church buildings in New West

By on September 1, 2004

The New Westminster diocesan council, in a letter sent by Bishop Michael Ingham, has asked two priests who have left the Anglican Church of Canada over the issue of same-sex blessings to vacate the church buildings that they are using and to seek ?alternate worship space.?

The priests ? Rev. Barclay Mayo, rector of St. Andrews, Pender Harbour (which now calls itself Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church) and Rev. Edward Hird, rector of St. Simon’s ? said they were being ?evicted? and vowed to hold on to their properties and resources. A third priest, Rev. Silas Ng, incumbent of the Church of Emmanuel , Richmond ? which rents facilities ? said his church received a ?notice of closure.?

?Given that there are no remaining parishioners in their locale, the threatened eviction action of the diocese and the bishop can only be seen as vindictive, punitive and financially manipulative, revealing a priority of possessions over people,? the three priests said in a statement.

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Neale Adams, communications officer of the diocese, said, ?The letter to the priests did not ?threaten eviction.’ It stated that our diocesan council had asked him (Bishop Ingham) to request of the priests that they seek alternate worship space, since they are no longer members of the Anglican Church of Canada, so their parish buildings may be used by Anglicans who wish to remain in the diocese.?

The three priests, who oppose same-sex blessings, declared last March that they were leaving the church to form the Anglican Communion in Canada (ACiC), a group under the authority of Anglican bishops in Africa and Asia . Bishop Ingham accepted their resignations in April.

?While the diocese holds the property deed for Pender Harbour in trust for the parish, it is the people of that congregation and the community who have resourced, built and maintained the church and properties,? the priests added. ?St. Simon’s, a separate legal entity, owns its church property and building, and the diocese has no legal interest in it.?

However, the diocese’s chancellor, George Cadman, said in an earlier interview that, ?Our canons are very clear that the properties within the diocese can’t be disposed of without the approval of the diocesan council and the bishop.?

In related developments in the Vancouver-based diocese:

* The British Columbia Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit by two former trustees of the parish of St. Martin’s, North Vancouver , ?by consent of all parties.? In a statement, former parishioners of St. Martin ‘s said they had dropped the lawsuit since the parish preferred ?to use resources for ministry instead of a court battle.? Christopher Vondette and James Burns filed the lawsuit last March stating that their removal violated B.C. corporate law.

* Mr. Cadman said the two trustees also agreed to pay a portion of the legal costs incurred by the diocese. The trustees were discharged when Bishop Ingham imposed a canon, or church law, allowing a bishop to intervene in a parish in crisis.

* Some parishioners of St. Martins last spring started meeting on Sundays at a nearby community hall. In July the group decided to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, affiliate with the ACiC, and call themselves St. Timothy’s. Meanwhile, St. Martin’s continues as a parish of the diocese of New Westminster.”

* Retired bishop Bill Hockin has resigned as episcopal visitor to conservative parishes in the diocese of New Westminster . ?I had hoped I could be an agent for conciliation, but the conditions of alienation and fear did not allow that,? he told the New Brunswick Anglican newspaper. ?I told Bishop (Michael) Ingham that I would do it for a year and I did, but the distance was just too far and I was disappointed that only one parish took advantage of the offer of the services of the episcopal visitor.?

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