Four more churches vote to leave

Published October 16, 2008

Four more congregations have voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and to join the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). They will fall under the episcopal oversight of Bishop Donald Harvey, moderator of the ANiC, and under the primatial authority of Archbishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.The departures of the congregations of St. Aidan’s in Windsor, Ont.; St. George’s Ottawa; the Church of St. Peter, Hamilton, Ont.; and St. Bede’s, Kinosota, Man., bring to 14 the number of congregations that have left the Anglican church amid clashing views on the blessing of same-sex unions. (There are about 2,800 congregations in the Canadian church, which is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion of churches.)A statement from Charlie Masters, executive archdeacon of ANiC, welcomed the congregations. “They join a growing movement of North American Anglicans seeking to remain in full communion with the global Anglican Church.”St. Bede’s, a small rural congregation of the South Parkland parish, in the diocese of Brandon, voted to leave Oct. 15. Only one of 30 who voted opposed the move.”I am the rector of the parish, and was not consulted about the meeting, which the canons of the diocese require,” said Rev. Bob Bettson, adding that he has subsequently dismissed the wardens of St. Bede’s. One of the wardens, Donald M. Asham, said that he had discussed the meeting with Mr. Bettson on Sept. 28 “during a phone call which he (Mr. Bettson) initiated.” He said that a notice of the meeting was posted Sept. 30, but that Mr. Bettson had removed it.Mr. Bettson admitted taking down the notice saying the meeting was illegal. He added that in their conversation, he had asked Mr. Asham to cancel the meeting.He said that St. Bede’s non-stipendiary honorary assistant, Jona Weitzel, has indicated to the diocesan bishop of Brandon, Jim Njegovan, that she was relinquishing her orders.Mr. Bettson added that the ANiC had also tried to initiate a vote at another congregation that Ms. Weitzel ministered to – St. Michael and All Angels – but that the wardens there had agreed to his order to cancel the meeting.Mr. Bettson said the diocese would use the Manitoba Temporalities Act to assert its ownership of the church building and the cemetery beside it. St. Bede’s, which dates back to 1822, is one of the oldest parishes in Manitoba.All 109 votes cast Sept. 28 by parishioners of St. Aidan’s in the diocese of Huron were in favour of aligning with the ANiC. The church has about 250 members eligible to vote and an average Sunday attendance of 125. It was established in 1924 and the present building was completed in 1951.On Oct. 5, the congregations of St. Peter’s and St. George’s followed suit. At St. George’s, 130 voted in favour of joining the ANiC and 27 were opposed; at St. Peter’s, 42 voted in favour, and one was opposed.”These congregations acted because they are determined to remain biblically faithful, true to historic Christian orthodoxy and long-standing Anglican teaching,” said the ANiC in a statement.St. George’s, located in downtown Ottawa, diocese of Ottawa, has an average Sunday attendance of 250. It was formed in 1885.Originally part of the vast parish of St. Matthew’s church, the Church of St. Peter, diocese of Niagara, was formed when it was decided to separate the eastern part of the parish in 1890. The congregation temporarily worshipped in a house until a church was built in 1892. The church was enlarged in 1915.The diocese of Niagara said it regretted the development and would “secure the same agreement that exists between the other breakaway parishes and the diocese,” which is shared use of the facilities and “mutually convenient worship times.”(This story, first published Oct. 16, has been updated.)


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