Letters to the editor

By on May 1, 1999

Dialogue discredited

Dear editor, The April article, Bishop Ingham Outlines Plans to Lobby Group, seems designed to discredit the process of dialogue on same-sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster. Based solely on an account from the Internet of an event in Vancouver, the article creates the impression that the process of study I have outlined is a mere faCade intended to outmanoeuvre opposition. This is offensive to me, to our diocese, and to Christians of all viewpoints preparing to engage in the process. The event was my annual pastoral visit to Integrity Vancouver. It was centred in the eucharist and was not a meeting to “outline plans.” Afterwards I expected to receive, and did receive, some anger about my decision to call for a new vote on the issue. I did my best to respond to those feelings and to acknowledge them. I invited gay and lesbian Anglicans to participate in the study and dialogue. My visit was intended to encourage a clearly discouraged group of Christians, and to invite their continued patience with the church. That an unofficial account of the meeting, with remarks filtered or taken out of context, should become the basis of a Journal article, without the courtesy of a conversation with me, is a serious matter of great concern. Michael Ingham Bishop, Diocese of New Westminster Vancouver

Integrity meeting wrongly portrayed

Dear editor, We are troubled that Integrity Vancouver’s annual pastoral visit from our bishop has been portrayed in the Journal as a meeting about limiting or preempting discussion and discernment concerning the blessing of same-sex unions. The truth is that Bishop Ingham called us to enter into even wider conversation within the church about the matter. He outlined an extensive process to bring together people of differing views and those as yet undecided. It is disheartening that our church newspaper did not speak with Integrity members before publishing someone’s account as fact and dragging us involuntarily into a politically charged debate. We should like you to know that there is a 20-year tradition of pastoral visits from the bishops of our diocese, from Archbishop Somerville through Archbishop Hambidge and now, Bishop Ingham. These are very meaningful to those of us who continue to struggle from within our church for full inclusion and affirmation of gay and lesbian members and for the sharing of the Good News without equivocation or condition. Our pattern has always been to share in the eucharist together and then speak freely of our discouragements, hopes, fears and satisfactions with our bishop. Our last visit was a particularly difficult one, for us and for Bishop Ingham. Many of us were very disappointed in his decision not to consent to the motion on same-sex unions, which had passed in our diocesan synod. Some present were very angry. Our bishop listened respectfully to deeply felt, and from a small, number, strongly expressed concerns and objections. In our view, he made every reasonable effort to understand and respond thoughtfully. Many of us also indicated our understanding of the pressures and abuse our bishop faces because of his support for us. It is not Bishop Ingham’s habit to sugarcoat the realities of the opposition we face from within the House of Bishops and from conservative organizations within our church. Nonetheless, he was strong in expressing his hope and conviction that the majority of the members of our church are reasonable, fair people who want to understand the lives and faith journeys of their lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in Christ. With him, many present, though certainly not all, recommitted ourselves to our witness with this church, believing with him that more can be done to encourage positive change and heed the Holy Spirit’s call again to share ourselves, our lives and faith, even in the face of indifference or hostility. William Wood President, Board of Integrity Vancouver Vancouver

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Anonymous story fuels right wingers

Dear editor, I am disturbed that the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada would publish an anonymous story based on an anonymous posting on the Internet. The article Bishop Ingham Outlines Plans to Gay Lobby Group is being used by right wing Anglicans in this diocese to suggest the bishop is not going to give the whole process under discussion an impartial and fair hearing. As a member of Integrity I do not see it as primarily a “lobby.” It is a group of homosexual persons and their supporters who get together for worship and fellowship with the celebration of the eucharist as the focal point of each meeting. I don’t see Integrity being anymore a lobby group than the Anglican Church itself. Yes, Integrity lobbies – just as the Anglican Church does. (See the statement by Archbishop Michael Peers speaking out against the military intervention of NATO into what was formerly Yugoslavia.) I not only question the lack of bias and effort to give a fair hearing to all points of view within our church; but the ethics of placing an anonymous and unsubstantiated report in your newspaper. Gregory Watts Vancouver (via e-mail)

Normal journalistic practice followed

Dear editor, You may have received, or soon will receive, a letter from Bishop Michael Ingham. According to the minutes of the meeting of Diocesan Council April 13, an April Journal article was one of the agenda items. Bishop Ingham told members about the article, which concerned his pastoral meeting with Integrity. He has written a letter to the editor about what he considers to be unethical reporting. You may be interested to observe, as have I, that your source document has been removed from the Internet site on which it originally was posted. However, a good many of us have seen it, stored it, and are here as witnesses if anyone should ever suggest that you based the article on something which did not exist. Since, for whatever reason, the Net item is no longer there so that people can judge the accuracy of your article’s content for themselves, let me state that I found the article accurate against its source. Just as an exercise, I tried to find a newspaper article today which quoted another published source as its authority. I’ve seen many such articles before, and it only took me a minute to find one on the Net today, in a major newspaper. Now, I wonder: would, say, Reuters pull an article just because, say, AP, had quoted it as its authority? It seems unlikely, but I note with interest that it has happened here. The diocesan meeeting minutes describe Bishop Ingham’s meeting with Integrity as “pastoral.” That troubles me. There is no denial that the articles – yours or its source – were factual. Perhaps what is said pastorally is somehow exempt from comparison with non-pastoral pronouncements? I know of no such exemption, although such a comparison would yield, in this case, some very troubling inconsistencies, both with public and other pastoral pronouncements. In summary, this reader cannot see where your paper has gone outside of normal journalistic practice. In addition, given the significance of what’s going on here in New Westminster diocese, you have done a good service to the wider community. Gerry Hunter Burnaby, B.C. (via e-mail)

Renounce war

Dear editor, We strongly support the views of Rev. Dan Heap as expressed in his March letter, Christians Must Renounce War. Had we lived in Toronto, we would gladly have stood with Mr. Heap at the cenotaph. Anita Bundy Victoria Raging Grannies Victoria, BC

Open debate needed on all divisive issues

Dear editor, Congratulations for publishing the March opinion piece on collegiality by Canon Gordon Baker, and the editorial on the need for open debate within the Anglican Church on potentially divisive issues. The various points of view on any divisive issue need to be discussed in all segments of the church long before any motion reaches the floor of a diocesan or general synod. If the democratic process is to be followed, then it becomes questionable as to whether collegiality within the House of Bishops can be used as a reason to override the prevailing viewpoint of other parts of the Anglican community. The recent example in the Diocese of New Westminster where a motion agreeing with the blessing of same-sex unions was passed by clergy and lay delegates at their synod, yet put on hold by their bishop, is a case in point. There, democracy and collegiality were mutually exclusive. I have asked our bishop to provide us, the laity, with documented reasoning, which led him to vote against the blessing of same-sex unions. To date he has not responded. He is the leader of his flock and therefore surely has a responsibility to give us his reasoning even though this may be different from other bishops. We, the laity, would be helped immensely in our struggle with divisive issues if bishops would trust us and share discussions and differing viewpoints with us. I hope our bishops will recognize that the time has gone when people were content to leave their brains at the church door. Eric Perryman Corbyville, Ont.

Report convictions

Dear editor, Following a discussion at the Diocese of Toronto board of directors for the Anglican Church Women it was decided to comment on the report of sexual assault charges against three members of the clergy in Nova Scotia, only one of whom had pleaded guilty at the time of publication (March Journal). First, it is essential to have it clearly understood that sexual assault is totally unacceptable under any conditions. This ACW has joined with other organizations in declaring itself as supporting all victimized persons, both male and female. It is particularly reprehensible when the perpetrator is a person who is the recipient of trust. Second, the board noted that it is the role of the media to report the news, not to make the news. While freedom of the press is essential in a democracy, there are other issues at stake. Fundamental to Canada as a democratic society is the principle that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. When a newspaper prints a charge against any individual prior to a court hearing and conviction, it is in danger of destroying the lives of those associated with that person, and it almost certainly destroys their professional reputation. It seems reasonable to expect that while it is not a house organ, the Journal should reflect the justice concerns of the church to which it is connected. This letter, citing the gossip column style of reporting prior to a court hearing, is not intended in any way to lessen the active involvement in the fight for justice for women. It very simply requests our national Anglican newspaper to report on court convictions, not on charges alone, and to honour the assumption of innocence prior to proof of guilt. Elizabeth Loweth President, Toronto Diocesan Anglican Church Women Toronto

Future guaranteed

Dear editor, While I appreciate the article Lawsuits Threaten Church’s Future (April Journal), the headline is not appropriate. The church’s future is guaranteed by Jesus: ” ? remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20). Although there are current concerns about the financial implications of the claims filed by former students of residential schools, the Anglican Church’s interests are expressed in other terms. Since 1969 we have worked toward a full partnership within the church among indigenous Anglicans and other Anglican communities. We have attempted to stand together in support of land claims, a better standard of living, increased employment and educational opportunities and recovery of native languages, cultural heritage and spiritual practices. Secondly, we are determined to support efforts at healing and reconciliation in aboriginal communities. Our Healing and Reconciliation Fund was established in 1991, long before the parallel government fund, and we have been making grants for healing programs and initiatives to indigenous communities across the country. Thirdly, the General Synod supports the Covenant, signed by a group of native Anglicans in 1994, which states, “Under the guidance of God’s Spirit, we agree to do all we can to call our people into unity in a new, self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada.” Although attention is focused at the moment on lawsuits, this quieter, basic work of nurturing and building community is ongoing. It is here that we see the signs of hope, the signs of the powerful hand of God calling us to be the Body of Christ as God’s Church, and as a sign and model for a broken world. Jim Boyles General Secretary Anglican Church of Canada Toronto

Correction

The story Christian Charities Overlooked (April Journal) stated that the panel reviewing charities in Canada was “government appointed.” The panel, headed by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, was set up by the volunteer sector in Canada.

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