News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
June  2011

Like their American counterparts, liberal Anglican leaders in Canada are winning legal but pyrrhic victories in property disputes with orthodox parishes that hold “to the faith delivered once for all to the saints”.

In a letter to Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster, Canadian primate Fred Hiltz gloated over the recent Supreme Court decision to let him keep the properties of four Vancouver-area parishes in the ACoC, including the largest most vibrant parish in Canada, St. John’s Shaughnessy. In a “Dear Michael,” letter, Hiltz noted that he was pleased to hear of the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to deny Leave to Appeal to those who have launched law suits against the Diocese of New Westminster over its decision concerning the blessing of same sex unions.

Hiltz went on to eulogize Ingham, the first man to fracture the entire Anglican Communion by allowing the blessing of same sex unions, drawing the wrath and ire of Global South Anglicans by saying, “With integrity and insight, you represented the Anglican Church of Canada, its constitution, Canons and recognized decision making processes within the synods of our church – diocesan, provincial, and General. Our entire church owes you a great debt of gratitude. That expression of thanks is extended to your chancellor, solicitor, communications officer and others who supported you in your endeavors to represent our church with such resolve, grace and dignity.”

The archbishop went on to say that Ingham had been slanderously attacked “both professionally and personally,” but had stood his ground and upheld the decisions of his synod, claiming that Ingham had “consistently modeled” and was as “pastorally accommodating of a variety of theological perspectives in these matters as possible.

Quickly trading on the news of Ingham’s victory, the Bishop of Niagara, the Rt. Rev. Michael Bird wrote, “The decision clears the way for us to proceed to a trial involving the disputed ownership of three parishes in the Diocese of Niagara. This matter has been deliberated upon at every level of our Canadian legal system and this most recent decision must surely remove any question as to our ownership of these properties. Like our counterparts in British Columbia, the issue of same-sex relationships is well behind us and we are fully engaged in the work of mission and re-visioning our church as it engages with and serves the people of this generation. The diocese has been very patient over these years but now we hope that this property dispute can be resolved quickly.”

The Diocese of Niagara has instructed its legal counsel to move forward expeditiously to bring this matter to trial, he said.

In February, the Diocese of Ottawa struck a deal selling St. George’s Anglican Church to the Anglican Network in Canada (ANIC), confirming the B.C. Court rulings. In 2008, clergy and congregations in the historic churches of St. Alban’s and St. George’s in downtown Ottawa voted to join the Anglican Network primarily because of their opposition to the blessing of same-sex civil unions. This negotiated settlement followed legal action initiated by the Diocese of Ottawa against the two dissident parishes.

In victory, Ingham seems oblivious over what he has done, along with the depth of feeling orthodox Anglicans have towards revisionist bishops like him. He has no perception of the evil he has committed nor of the revisionist path he has taken the diocese down that will only further alienate his diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada and an ecclesiastically impotent Archbishop of Canterbury from the Global South. Is it any wonder that when Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh visits Canada for the first time next month, he will make a point of not seeing his Anglican counterpart Fred Hiltz?

“We are, and continue to be, respectful of genuine differences of conviction among faithful Christians. In a spirit of mutual respect, it is now time to move forward together,” opined Ingham. One wonders what world he is living in. The “differences” are between the options of heaven and hell, life and death. If these “differences” were just minor, there would be no need for the ANIC or the Anglican Coalition of Canada. But the differences are of such an eternal weight of glory, they cannot be lightly passed over.

There will be no moving forward. The vast majority of parishioners will leave those four churches and set up shop elsewhere. What will it cost the diocese to keep the doors open on four near empty parishes and putting in faux evangelical clergy to sustain the fiction that all is well? The “sad divisions” Ingham hopes may be healed are also a fiction. The divisions will never be healed in this life or the next. The huge unbridgeable divide has to do with “sound teaching” and doctrine upon which rests the fate of souls in this life and the next. That is something that is not up for discussion.

The Metropolitan for the Anglican Provincial Synod of British Columbia and Yukon, the Most Rev. John E. Privett weighed in with this, “We will continue as a Church to seek the most generous pastoral responses possible in our differing contexts as we continue, in good faith, to respond to God’s call to love and justice. It is my prayer that in God’s time and with God’s grace there will be a healing of the divisions amongst us and a renewed commitment to the Mission of God that we share with all Christians throughout the world.”

One wonders just how much spin you can pack into one paragraph. The only “generous pastoral response” has been endless litigation and a revisionist mindset of Bishop Ingham as he stomps on 2000 years of dogma, morality and church history, inhibiting and deposing his own clergy even and including the finest Anglican theologian in Canada Dr. J. l. Packer.

Healing. There is none and never will be. With two very different gospels and two very different understandings of the “Mission of God” there can be no reconciliation. The gap between the Anglican Church of Canada, the ANIC and the Anglican Coalition of Canada is so deep and so wide that only a full repentance by Ingham and Hiltz of their apostasies is reconciliation even remotely possible.And that is not going to happen.

Those who left knew their souls would be at stake had they decided to stay along with the souls of future generations who would never hear the clarion call of the gospel in parishes over which hung the cloak and mitre of a revisionist bishop. That is a bridge too far.

They also know that theological liberalism has no future. Liberals have succeeded in taking over orthodox parishes and then devouring them. They cannot build a single church or make a single convert because they have no gospel to proclaim. The affirmation and acceptance of pansexual sin will ultimately be the downfall of the diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada which is already hemorrhaging members and parishes. By infiltrating orthodox parishes, and then, over time, taking them over proves only that Satan is hard at work, and will be so until the end of time.

This win for Ingham is a hollow victory for the Diocese of New Westminster, because it’s already having trouble keeping its coffers and its parish churches filled. The four parishes he now claims are significant in size. To keep the doors open will require much money.

A church in point is small St. Simon’s in North Vancouver. Since that parish left the diocese, Ingham has had to provide over $250,000 dollars in diocesan subsidies to keep the doors open, a VOL blogger noted. “That parish entity saw its income from receipted donations drop by 90% (approximately $240,000 to $24,000) when the St. Simon’s people departed.

“Ingham says that the money for lawyers can now be spent on other things. This is probably going to be a big part of it, now that he has to underwrite four big parishes which will be bereft of people.”

The pain of departure is great, VOL was told, but the pain of staying in a spiritually, morally and theologically bankrupt church is even greater. One cannot joust with the devil. That is a losing proposition. He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon.

Sooner or later, Bishop Michael Ingham will learn that to his eternal damnation.


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