Harvey will oversee Episcopal parish

Published November 1, 2004

Donald Harvey, who will retire as bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of this month, has accepted an offer to become an episcopal visitor to a conservative parish in Marlborough, Mass., whose diocesan bishop — Thomas Shaw — was among those who voted for the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire last year.

Bishop Harvey said he was invited by Bishop Shaw to provide episcopal oversight to the Church of the Holy Trinity, which recently hired a conservative priest, Rev. Michael McKinnon, as its rector.

The invitation limits Bishop Harvey’s role to “pastoral” oversight and “spiritual help” since the parish will remain a part of the diocese of Massachusetts and of the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA). Under canon law, Mr. McKinnon remains under the authority of the diocesan bishop, said Steve Walker, who chaired the search committee.

Mr. Walker said it was necessary to enlist the help of Bishop Harvey because the parish, which had no rector for more than three years, had found it difficult to hire a conservative priest willing to be in a liberal diocese. (The two other bishops of the diocese — Roy Cederholm and Gayle Harris — also supported Bishop Robinson’s election.)

“The results of last year’s (ECUSA general) convention made it very difficult to bring in an orthodox priest in a somewhat liberal diocese here,” he said in a telephone interview.

The search committee chose Mr. McKinnon as rector, but he “couldn’t come unless we had adequate episcopal oversight from an orthodox bishop,” Mr. Walker said. (Mr. McKinnon is a member of Forward in Faith, a conservative international Anglican association which opposes the ordination of women as priests and bishops.)

Bishop Shaw and other bishops of the diocese agreed to allow the parish to invite an episcopal visitor provided it remain a part of the diocese and of ECUSA. Mr. McKinnon recommended Bishop Harvey, who had ordained him years ago.

Mr. Walker said that it was necessary to get an episcopal visitor outside the U.S. since “you can’t just cross diocesan lines here, it’s just not done; it causes a lot of trouble and none of us need that.” He added: “At this stage, reconciliation would be good and we’re better serving what we’re doing by remaining in communion.”

Bishop Harvey said that he accepted the offer because he has sympathy for parishes which “remain loyally Anglican but in conscience are unable to accept their bishop’s views.” He added: “If it will keep them within the diocese and the (Anglican) Communion, I’m all for it.” While the parish, which has about 30 parishioners, pays for his travel expenses, Bishop Harvey said the service he will provide them (such as confirmations) is voluntary.

“He’s a delightful match for this parish,” said Mr. Walker. He said that Holy Trinity, which is an affiliate of the American Anglican Council, hopes to become “an orthodox Anglican oasis” and would be open to “anybody in our area who are uncomfortable with the General Convention decision (to elect Bishop Robinson).”

Bishop Harvey said that under the arrangement, his contract with the parish would be reviewed every two years. He becomes the second conservative Canadian bishop to oversee an Episcopal parish in the U.S. Last July, Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon accepted an offer to oversee a parish in Alaska.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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