Suffragan bishop election deferred

Published May 1, 2009


Archbishop Terrence Buckle, bishop of the diocese of Yukon and Metropolitan (senior bishop) of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon, has acknowledged that the provincial synod’s decision to endorse a motion from its house of bishops postponing the election of a suffragan bishop to the metropolitan for the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) has “caused pain.”

“I recognize and accept that this decision has caused pain to APCI and to the individuals most closely affected by this decision,” said Archbishop Buckle in a statement. “I also recognize and accept that the church ought to have identified the concerns of the bishops before and not after APCI engaged in its nomination process in 2008 and 2009.”

APCI clergy and laity were stunned when the provincial house of bishops and the electoral college of the provincial synod, which met March 27, announced that the election had been deferred to September.

The nominating assembly of APCI elected Rev. Barbara Andrews on March 7 as its nominee for bishop suffragan to the metropolitan with responsibilities for APCI. Since APCI is not a diocese but is administered from Archbishop Buckle’s office in Whitehorse, Ms. Andrews’ name was submitted to the electoral college of the province. When APCI nominated its first bishop, Gordon Light, in 2004, he went through the same process and was confirmed. Bishop Light retired in December.

In a telephone interview, Ms. Andrews said, “At this point, I have to just accept the decision…I believe the B.C. and Yukon house of bishops to be composed of men of goodwill and they made the decision out of concern for some issues.” But she acknowledged that it had been “a difficult decision to hear,” and that she had been “stunned and bewildered” when she was informed about it.

Bishop Light said he was “feeling sorrowful and distressed for the folks out there…for all involved,” because “the process that was underway seems to have gone awry.”

He refused further comment saying, “A wise man once told me that when you leave a parish, or in this case, the Central Interior, the first rule of leaving is to leave and I did that.”

Archbishop Buckle said the bishops made the request to defer the election, which he described as “unanimous,” for three reasons: “to establish a time line for the reactivation of the diocese of Cariboo; to bring clarity to the issue of length of term of service of the suffragan bishop; and to review the process by which APCI recommends a nominee to assist with episcopal oversight of APCI.”

Some clergy and laity, who did not wish to be identified, expressed anger and frustration, pointing to the time and expense involved in the nomination process, as well as its impact on Ms. Andrews.

Some questioned why a bishop could not have been elected while the concerns, including the process of discerning whether APCI would be constituted as a diocese, are being addressed.

Archbishop Buckle said he gave his assent to the bishops’ motion and it was endorsed by the electoral college. The electoral synod has requested that the clergy and laity of APCI “continue with their visioning process already under way.”


  • 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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