The former priests and members of the congregation of St. Simon’s church, North Vancouver, and St. Andrew’s, Pender Harbour, have refused to vacate the church buildings as requested by the New Westminster diocesan council. The groups state that “all legal and beneficial interest in the lands and buildings” are vested in them.
Rev. Edward Hird, former rector of St. Simon’s, and the parishioners advised the diocese of their position in a letter written by their counsel, Kuhn & Company, which was faxed to the diocese’s chancellor, George Cadman, on Aug. 13. Rev. Barclay Mayo, former rector of St. Andrew’s, Pender Harbour, (which now calls itself Christ the Redeemer), sent a similar letter.
“Our clients intend to continue to occupy and worship in their church buildings, which has been paid for by them,” the letter from St. Simon’s stated. “They claim entitlement to them at law, and any pre-emptive or other action on the part of your client to gain physical possession of the buildings would be unacceptable, unless authorized by court order.”
Mr. Cadman, reacting to the letter, told Anglican Journal in an interview, “It seems unfortunate that they are trying to provoke a confrontation with the diocese. We clearly want to avoid that circumstance.”
Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster informed the diocesan council about the situation during a meeting Sept. 14. The diocesan council “took no action” said Neale Adams, diocesan communications director.
Mr. Cadman reiterated the diocese’s position that members of the former congregation of St. Simon’s “are free to worship as they choose, but they are not free to do so in a space which, by their own actions, they have abandoned.” Mr. Hird and two other priests — Mr. Mayo, and Rev. Silas Ng, former incumbent of the Church of Emmanuel Redeemer — submitted their resignations to Bishop Ingham last April.
The diocese maintains that its canons stipulate that no properties can be disposed of without the approval of the diocesan council and the bishop.