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  Diocese moves to seize control of ANiC parishes
27 August 2008

Vancouver – On August 26, 2008, the Anglican diocese of New Westminster informed St. Matthew’s in Abbotsford and St Matthias and St Luke’s in Vancouver that the bishop had dismissed the parish Wardens and other officers (Trustees) that were duly elected by the congregation and appointed new Wardens who are more “loyal” to the bishop. According to their press release, these actions were taken to regain “control of the parishes”, which includes control of the properties and buildings.

Both parishes voted in February this year to realign with the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), under the Episcopal authority of Bishop Donald Harvey and the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone – one of the 38 Provinces in the global Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church of Canada is also one of these 38 Provinces.
“Whether the Diocese of New Westminster has the right to unilaterally replace these duly elected trustees, and move to seize control of the parishes’ assets is in dispute,” says Cheryl Chang, ANiC Chancellor.

The elected Trustees of the parish believe the parish properties are held in trust for the benefit of the current congregation who have paid for and maintained these properties, and who are upholding traditional Anglican ministry in accordance with the founding principles of the Anglican Church of Canada (contained in the Solemn Declaration 1893), and the current doctrine of the global Anglican Communion. The Diocese of New Westminster, which has acted unilaterally and contrary to those principles, asserts the property is held in trust for the diocese. Various actions are currently in the Canadian courts to determine who is the rightful beneficiary of such trusts in light of the growing divisions in the global Anglican Communion.

“The trustees of both St Matthew’s and St Matthias and St Luke are meeting and seeking legal advice regarding their response to the Diocese,” Mrs Chang adds. “However, we note with interest that the Diocese has chosen to act only against the two smaller parishes and not the larger ANiC parishes, St. John’s (Shaughnessy) and Church of the Good Shepherd in Vancouver. Another concern is that the notice alleging a ‘crisis’ was signed by the bishop on July 10th, but not served on the parishes for six weeks, after the Lambeth Conference had concluded.”

The four congregations have been in “serious theological dispute” with the Diocese of New Westminster since June 2002, when the diocese unilaterally proceeded with same sex blessings in clear defiance of leaders of the Anglican Communion and the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of the Anglicans worldwide that such action is contrary to scripture.
Since 2003, the Primates of the Anglican Communion have repeatedly asked the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of New Westminster to return to biblically faithful Anglican practice and teaching and to provide adequate episcopal oversight for dissenting parishes, but to no avail. In fact, the communion-breaking actions of the Diocese of New Westminster sparked the current crisis and the global realignment which is now taking place in the Anglican Communion.

Members of the Anglican Network in Canada are committed to remaining faithful to Holy Scripture and established Anglican doctrine and to ensuring that orthodox Canadian Anglicans are able to remain in full communion with their Anglican brothers and sisters around the world.

Since it launched its ecclesial structure last November under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, ANiC has received two bishops – Donald Harvey and Malcolm Harding – and 18 parishes.

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