Archbishop Terry Buckle and his wife, Blanche
Members of the diocese of the Yukon, meeting in Whitehorse on May 31, failed to elect a new bishop, and Archbishop Terrence Buckle said he would postpone his retirement and remain in office.
Archbishop Buckle, who is 67, had said earlier this year that he would retire at the end of 2008. Canadian Anglican bishops generally retire before or at the age of 70.
Through seven rounds of voting, the 35 delegates assembled at Christ Church Cathedral were not able to give any of the five candidates the required simple majority in each of the two houses of clergy and laity as well as an overall two-thirds majority.
“We (at the synod) were discussing, ‘Did we fail or did we reach the decision?’ The Holy Spirit has shown us it is not yet the time (for a change),” said Archbishop Buckle, who chaired the synod, in a telephone interview with the Anglican Journal.
Despite the long hours of voting, which began at 9 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m., Archbishop Buckle said the general mood of the gathering was “very faithful, very strong.” Synod had been “very thoughtful and very prayerful all the way through,” but it was clear by the last ballot that “we had gone as far as we could.” He added that “there was concern that we were forcing something to happen. It was time to adjourn.”
Archbishop Buckle said he had intended to set a new date for an episcopal election, then, in consultation with his wife, Blanche, pondered whether he should reconsider his retirement date.
When he arrived at the cathedral for worship on Sunday morning, June 1, he said, several people who had been synod delegates, including several First Nations representatives, asked him to stay on. “At the beginning of the service, I said that we had been unable to reach a decision and that we both feel I should continue,” he said.
Reaction in the cathedral was very positive, said Rev. Lee Titterington, of St. Paul church in Dawson City, who was at the service. “There was a big sigh and lots of excitement. At the passing of the peace, people were dancing in the aisles. Archbishop Terry is loved by the people he serves,” said Mr. Titterington. Members of the diocese had been at peace at the prospect of Archbishop Buckle retiring and a new bishop being elected, but saw the latest development as “a wonderful opportunity,” he said.
Archbishop Buckle said that at this time, he has no date in mind for the next episcopal election or for his retirement. He said he intends also to stay on as metropolitan, or regional archbishop, and will consult with his episcopal colleagues in the Ecclesiastical (church) Province of B.C. and Yukon to be sure of their support.
The candidates in the election were: Archdeacon Gregory Gilson, diocese of Caledonia; Archdeacon Andrew Hoskin, Algoma; Archdeacon David Irving, Kootenay and Bishop Larry Robertson, a suffragan (assistant) bishop of the Arctic. A fifth candidate, retired Archdeacon John Tyrrell of the Yukon, was nominated from the floor after the third ballot.