New Westminster bishop Michael Ingham has asked the primate and the archbishop of the ecclesiastical (church) province of British Columbia and the Yukon to address an issue involving a visit by retired Bishop Don Harvey to Hope, B.C. last July.
“An advertisement in a local newspaper invited people to attend a meeting sponsored by the ‘Anglican Church of the Resurrection’ in Hope, B.C. on July 23, to meet (Bishop) Harvey,” said diocesan spokesperson Neale Adams. “We have no such parish, but in the ad it claimed to be an ‘Anglican church,’ a member of the ‘Anglican Network in Canada’ and a ‘member of the world wide Anglican Communion.'”
Mr. Adams said that Bishop Harvey had not asked Bishop Ingham “for permission to do any of this.” (Bishops traditionally extend the courtesy of notifying the diocesan bishop when visiting outside their diocese.) Several New Westminster parishes walked out of a 2002 diocesan synod that voted in favour of same-sex blessings; the parishes do not consider Bishop Ingham their bishop.
Mr. Adams denied reports circulated online by Essentials, a group of Anglicans opposed to same-sex blessings, that Bishop Ingham was “bringing action” against Bishop Harvey. He said that “if anyone will take appropriate action” against Bishop Harvey, it would be the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison and Archbishop Terrence Buckle, metropolitan, or senior bishop, of B.C. and the Yukon.
In a written statement, Archbishop Buckle said he had learned about Bishop Harvey’s visit to Hope, B.C., “a few days before it was scheduled to happen” and that he had “immediately contacted Bishop Harvey by telephone” and advised him to talk to Bishop Ingham. “I have received no communication about Bishop Harvey’s visit to Hope in the five weeks since it happened,” said Archbishop Buckle. “If any communications are received, they will of course be seriously and prayerfully considered by the primate and by myself.”
Bishop Harvey, meanwhile, said in an interview that he would continue to visit parishes in New Westminster and that he would inform but not seek the permission of Bishop Ingham about his plans.
“I have not yet, and I stress the word yet, I have not yet done anything in Bishop Ingham’s diocese that any priest wouldn’t do during a visit … I’ve never ordained, I’ve never confirmed or anything like that. I’ve visited people, parishes and encouraged them and prayed with them and so on,” said Bishop Harvey. “It’s still my intention to this day to notify Bishop Ingham when I’m going there, but I will not ask his permission.”
Bishop Harvey, who retired in November 2004, said he had received two letters from Bishop Ingham that pointed out that the church’s constitution states that no bishop, priest or deacon shall function in parishes of another bishop without the approval and permission of that bishop.
“He’s quite right. The constitution says that you must have the permission of that bishop,” said Bishop Harvey. “I would suggest to you that the constitution also assumes that the bishop who is complaining is obeying the constitution too.”
He said that Bishop Ingham had violated “the spirit” of the constitution that states that “we don’t go off and do things on our own.” He said that Bishop Ingham’s support of the diocesan council resolution approving same-sex blessings also “defied the stand of the house of bishops.”