At the diocese of New Westminster’s most recent synod, last June, Bishop Michael Ingham noted that the last few bishops in the diocese had been elected with about 60 per cent of the vote, except for David Somerville, who got 90 per cent.
The diocese has released a video called Somerville: Leader in a Time of Change about this distinguished church leader, who is now 86 and has served as parish priest, teacher, bishop and archbishop. Most of his work has been in British Columbia, with the exception of a stint as director of program at the national office in Toronto.
The video is designed as a parish resource but its subject is so interesting that it can be recommended to individuals interested in church history and its current situation.
In the 1970s, Bishop Somerville supported the exploration of different forms of liturgy and music.
He was among the first bishops to ordain women, about which he says, “I thought it (the ordination of women) was a question of justice – not doctrine, but practice.” And he was in favor of allowing children to take the eucharist.
Bishop Somerville has called the threat to various church entities arising from residential-school lawsuits a “crisis of organization.” He adds, “It could be we are being pushed out of real estate into a closer relationship with people.” It relates to a larger question, he said. “What is ministry?”
The video is available from the diocese of New Westminster.