ESSENTIALS, a group of Canadian Anglicans hoping to direct the church back to its more orthodox roots and teachings, will hold its second national conference June 14-19, 2001, just two weeks before General Synod, with a full program and the theme “Lift High the Cross.”
Organizers have invited a controversial bishop, Maurice Sinclair of the Southern Cone of South America, as keynote speaker. They have also chosen to host the conference in the diocese of New Westminster, considered one of the most liberal on sexuality and ordination of gay priests within the national church.
The chair for the conference says the group is non-political. Essentials grew out of a conference in Montreal in 1994, and embraces a traditional view of Christian faith and practice. It is an amalgamation of three main organizations – The Prayer Book Society (which is Anglo-Catholic), Barnabas Anglican Ministries (Evangelical) and Anglican Renewal Ministries (Charismatic).
Rev. George Sinclair, priest of St. Alban the Martyr in the Diocese of Ottawa, said in an interview that the choice of location of Langley, B.C. came about because some Anglicans on Vancouver Island offered to host the conference in their area.
“The whole focus of the conference is meant to be positive. It was not designed to counteract the liberals,” he said.
Mr. Sinclair said that Archbishop Sinclair (no relation) was invited to speak several years ago when the conference was being planned, and his invitation was in no way tied in to the recent publication of the archbishop’s book decrying the ordination of homosexual priests.
“He is a very spiritual, traditional Anglican, and we wanted to hear what he had to tell us,” said Mr. Sinclair.
In early June, the diocese of New Westminster’s synod plans to vote on whether to allow clergy to bless convenanted same sex unions, just two weeks before the Essentials conference. Archbishop Sinclair, with Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, recently urged 34 Anglican primates meeting in the U.S. to adopt a tighter form of control over dioceses who failed to toe an orthodox line on sexuality. They also took a firm stand on those issues in their recently published series of essays, To Mend the Net: Anglican Faith and Order in Renewed Mission.
In the interview, Mr. Sinclair insisted that Essentials is not attempting to build a church within a church. “We are not a separatist movement,” he said. “Our mission is to call the Anglican Church of Canada to live out of its orthodox Christian heritage. At the very heart of our motivation is the ancient way of following Christ, while still remaining contemporary.”
The five-day conference will have 26 workshops and cover issues such as prayer ministry, youth ministry, computers and Christianity, contemporary and traditional music and healing ministry. There will be five international plenary speakers and seven Canadians to reflect the international focus of the conference, Mr. Sinclair noted.
Among the speakers are: Bishop Henry Scriven, suffragan bishop of the province of Europe; Rev. Peter Moore, president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa.; Bishop Ronald Ferris of the diocese of Algoma; Linda Tripp, vice-president of World Vision Canada, and Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, of the province of South Asia.
Essentials also plans to meet before General Synod on July 3 and 4 at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Don Lewis, of Regent College in British Columbia, who is organizing the pre-Synod meeting, said it will include a dinner, fellowship and a discussion about the Essentials conference, followed by a talk on Canadian Anglicanism’s place within global Anglicanism.