The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, seen above, may soon have their own bishop.
The former diocese of Cariboo, now called the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, voted last month to ask the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon that it be allowed to elect a suffragan (or assistant) bishop.
The 17 parishes and 45 congregations of the region, a triangle-shaped area stretching from close to the U.S. border to nearly the middle of British Columbia, have been without a bishop since the diocese ceased operations on Dec. 31, 2001.
Cariboo folded under the financial strain of legal costs associated with damage suits brought by former students of the Anglican-run St. George’s Indian Residential School in Lytton, B.C. Former dormitory supervisor Derek Clarke served a prison term for sexually abusing boys.
Since the shutdown of the diocesan office in Kamloops, B.C., the parishes have been under the supervision of Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan (senior bishop) of the ecclesiastical (church) province. About 110 representatives of the parishes met for the first “annual assembly” on the Lower Nicola Band Indian reserve in Shulus, Sept. 12-14. Usually, dioceses hold governing meetings called synods on a regular basis.
Archbishop Crawley, who chaired the assembly, noted that his time has been stretched thin doing three jobs – diocesan bishop of Kootenay (a diocese adjoining the former Cariboo), supervising bishop for the Central Interior parishes, and metropolitan. As senior metropolitan of the Canadian church, he will take on another job in February, serving as interim primate upon the retirement of Archbishop Michael Peers until the election of a new primate on May 31, 2004.
In addition, he noted, “I am now 66 and I do not plan to continue working until I am 70 … My successor as metropolitan is sure to be from either a distant diocese or a larger diocese which means he/she will not likely be able to provide adequate episcopal care for you.”
The suffragan would assist the metropolitan, probably be based wherever he/she chose to live in the region, and be the principal provider of episcopal oversight for the Central Interior, Archbishop Crawley said. There is money in the APCI budget for such a position, he added, since the APCI parishes currently pay the diocese of Kootenay $15,000 for the metropolitan’s oversight and $56,000 to administrative assistant Canon Gordon Light, whose job would end.
The province of B.C. and the Yukon was scheduled to hold its synod at the end of September.
(The Journal will have a full report on the former diocese of Cariboo, nearly two years after shutdown, in the November issue.)