A parish in the diocese of Ottawa has withheld its contribution to the diocesan budget for the second year in a row, saying it can’t support the direction being taken by “leaders of the diocese” on the issue of the blessing of same-sex unions.
St. Alban the Martyr’s decision to withhold its apportionment was not made public until recently, when Bishop Peter Coffin wrote to the church’s wardens, calling the decision “deeply disturbing.” He added that their move would affect other parishes and “it is only fair to make your decision public.”
St. Alban’s rector, Rev. George Sinclair, chairs the Anglican Essentials Council, a conservative group that believes homosexuality is prohibited by the Bible and is contrary to traditional Anglican teaching. A spokesman for St. Alban, warden Peter Di Gangi, said the church’s action was “a matter of conscience” and a response to actions that “appear to be leading away from the worldwide Anglican church.”
In 2005, St. Alban’s apportionment was $16,112, or 0.83 per cent of the total diocesan budget and in 2006 it is $20,574, or 1.03 per cent of the total budget. Parish contributions are voluntary and Bishop Coffin noted that “our system does not provide for any sanctions or other actions for parishes who will not support the mission of the wider church.”
However, he said, “the apportionment assists mission in the diocese including social service ministries, support for parish programs, youth ministries, etc. It has nothing to do with same-gender blessing. Why would one not want to support this?”
Mr. Di Gangi noted that an Ottawa priest, Canon Garth Bulmer, successfully introduced a motion at the 2004 General Synod that “affirmed the integrity and sanctity of committed same-sex relationships.” The motion had the support of diocesan leaders and “that’s part of what went into our decision,” he said.