New Westminster ceases mission’s funding

Published February 1, 2004

The parish priest of a church mission in Abbotsford, B.C. that was shut down by Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster has vowed to keep his congregation going even though it has lost its official status with the Anglican Church of Canada.

Bishop Ingham shut down Holy Cross church in December, two months after it joined a breakaway group of parishes opposed to the diocese’s decision to sanction same-sex blessings, and accepted an offer of episcopal oversight from another bishop.

Rev. James Wagner said that his mission is being sustained by donations from private individuals and by statements of support from leaders of other denominations.

Holy Cross, which has about 50 parishioners, was established in June 2001 to minister to the downtown area of Abbotsford.

The diocesan council of New Westminster voted to “disestablish” Holy Cross church ? a congregation that was financially supported by the diocese ? last October but Bishop Ingham had given Mr. Wagner time to heed an ultimatum to reaffirm obedience and loyalty to the bishop, said Neale Adams, communications director of the diocese.

While waiting for Bishop Ingham to act on its decision, the diocesan council withdrew funding from Holy Cross based on a recommendation made by the administrators of the diocese’s initiatives fund. “The administrators said that one of the legal requirements for the fund, which was essentially being held in trust for those who contribute to it, was that the mission be in the diocese,” said Mr. Adams. “And so the question was whether Holy Cross was still in the diocese.”

Mr. Wagner said his congregation was taken aback by Bishop Ingham’s move. He said they had been hopeful when the House of Bishops created a task force to look into adequate episcopal oversight for dissenting parishes. “We felt that there was a ceasefire, a cooling down.”

Holy Cross is part of a coalition of parishes called the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW). However it is the only church that has been shut down because unlike the others, it relies on funding from the diocese. Mr. Adams said that the diocese had agreed to provide Holy Cross with a funding of $320,000 spread over a five-year period.

“They weren’t in our sights anymore,” said Ronald Harrison, executive archdeacon of New Westminster. “They were, in fact, distancing themselves from the bishop and his authority. Their position was ?give us the money, but don’t expect us to be a part of your diocese.'”

Only recently, Bishop Ingham invited Holy Cross to return to full participation in the diocese. When Bishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon withdrew his offer of episcopal oversight to the breakaway parishes last November, Mr. Adams said Bishop Ingham had hoped that “the dynamics would change.'” Archdeacon Harrsion said the bishop wrote to Mr. Wagner asking for a dialogue but the wardens of Holy Cross said in a Dec. 5 letter that the church would not withdraw an earlier motion that it had passed supporting Bishop Buckle and its membership in the coalition of disaffected parishes.


  • 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.

Related Posts

Skip to content