Tuesday November 27, 2007

Official Split in Canadian Anglican Communions “likely to get messy”

LifeSiteNews Special Report from Burlington Conference

By Tony Gosnach

BURLINGTON, Ontario, November 27, 2007 ( – Finally pushed over the line by some Canadian dioceses’ acceptance of blessings for same-sex unions, almost 300 biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans met at the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, Ont. Nov. 22 and 23 to arrange for new ecclesial oversight to replace that of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Building on the Solid Rock conference was staged by the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), formed in 2005 to serve as a “lifeboat” for Canadian Anglicans increasingly alienated by the liberal theology taking hold in that church’s Canadian dioceses. Over the past two years, the network has sought out alternative ecclesial oversight from elsewhere in the world and, on Nov. 8, achieved that after a vote by the synod of the Province of the Southern Cone in South America. That province has agreed to provide such oversight for disaffected Canadian Anglicans.

Leading Anglican theologian J.I. Packer, who gave an address at the conference, told LifeSiteNews that the move was necessary because of liberal theology that has virtually taken control of the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as the Episcopal Church in the United States.

“North America is more radically committed to this form of liberalism than any other part of the Anglican communion anywhere,” he said. Biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans, he added, “are being penalized by our own bishop for the views that we hold contrary to his – views on one issue in particular; namely, whether it is right to see any form of same-sex union, homosexual partnership, as a mode of holiness and to bless it in church on that basis. I am one who cannot accept that policy. I can’t accept that view of gay unions.”

At the Burlington conference, the ANiC announced that the first two parishes have agreed to submit to the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone in place of the Anglican Church of Canada. One of them, the Church of the Resurrection in Hope, B.C., is led by the Rev. Dr. Archie Pell, who was fired by liberal Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster, B.C. after balking over that bishop’s acceptance of same-sex blessings. The dioceses of Niagara, Ottawa and Montreal have also moved to approve such blessings.

The other parish joining the Southern Cone is St. John’s in Richmond, B.C. The Right Rev. Donald F. Harvey, a retired Newfoundland bishop, has agreed to come out of retirement to serve as moderator and bishop for ANiC Anglicans. He will be assisted by the Right Rev. Malcolm Harding of Manitoba, who is also coming out of retirement and has turned in his Canadian minister’s licence to join the South American jurisdiction.

ANiC director Cheryl Chang said she anticipates difficult times ahead for the Anglican Church in Canada, as struggles are bound to ensue over property and clerical authority. “It’s likely to get messy,” she said. “We expect priests to be fired and congregations to be locked out of buildings or attempts to evict them. We have asked for an act of grace from the Canadian church to let parishes discern their future without threats and intimidation, but we shall see how they respond.”

The ANiC is encouraging individual Canadian parishes to hold a vote in February on whether they wish to remain under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Canada or join the Southern Cone. There will then be a large-scale conference in Vancouver next April 25, at which Archbishop Gregory James Venables of the Southern Cone is scheduled to officially welcome the Canadian parishes that wish to join his province.

Although some media have been characterizing this latest development as a “schism,” Packer stressed that if there is such a phenomenon taking place in the Canadian Anglican church, it is not the working of the ANiC.

“We are, as you would expect, being accused of schism, because we are separating from our existing diocesan organizations,” he said. “My reply, and the reply of others, is that this is no schism. If there is schism in the situation, the guilt applies to the people who have forced us out of our own dioceses by violating our consciences. We are only seeking to be Christians in the historic mode, believing what we’ve always believed about the Bible and its authority, believing what the church has always believed about the moral teaching of the whole Bible with regard to homosexuality.”

Homosexuality, he added, “is no part of the order of creation. It’s not something that God accepts under the order of grace and redemption. It is off-limits and the way to help homosexuals, therefore, is to affirm them as human beings with particular besetting temptations and by friendly support, as you would do in the case of heterosexual people with a different sort of besetting temptations. You try to stand by them and help them not to yield to their besetting temptations. That’s what it’s all about.”

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