Conservative Anglicans have no right to four church properties: B.C. Appeal Court

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dissident conservative Anglicans in Vancouver and Abbotsford have no right to hold onto four church properties valued at more than $20 million, the B.C. Appeal Court ruled today.

As a result of the decision, more than 1,000 Anglicans who oppose same-sex blessings and reject the authority of Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham will likely be expected to vacate their historic church buildings.

Dismissing the main argument in a costly appeal by the conservative Anglican congregations, Justice Mary Newbury said the dissidents “cannot in my respectful decision remove themselves from their diocesan structures and retain the right to use properties that are held for purposes of Anglican ministry in Canada.”

The B.C. Appeal Court decision, which has hinged on disagreement over whether to bless homosexual unions and how to interpret the Bible, is the culmination of a theological and legal war that exploded in the Vancouver-area diocese in the mid-1990s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada

22 Comments
Posted November 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Ralph wrote:

Sad news from Canada. I suppose that the SJS property will serve well as a mosque after the diocese sells it off. This is JI Packer’s home parish.

November 15, 8:15 pm | [comment link]
2. Ed McNeill wrote:

Time to upgrade.  Many churches that have left buildings willingly or unwillingly have been pleasantly surprised with their new digs.

November 15, 8:37 pm | [comment link]
3. jamesw wrote:

Ed:  Except for the St. John’s, Shaughnessy location, I would agree with you.  I hope that the SJS property is protected as a historic building, thus ensuring that it can’t be sold for anything else but as a church.  Thus the Diocese won’t be able to sell it very easily, and the property will cost them dearly to maintain it.

November 15, 9:01 pm | [comment link]
4. Ad Orientem wrote:

Disappointing, but not terribly surprising.  This is after all Canada that we are talking about.  A country where publicly expressing a religious conviction against homosexual behavior can get you hauled into both civil and criminal court.  On those occasions (and they are frequent) when I contemplate the state of the United States and ponder whether or not it’s time to renew my passport I think of Canada, and realize things haven’t gotten quite that bad.  Yet.

November 15, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
5. Ian+ wrote:

They should have walked away from their property at the outset. You know, that stuff about if they demand your cloak, give ‘em your shirt as well.

November 15, 9:53 pm | [comment link]
6. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Well now, the Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster is certainly good at pursuing in a court of law those Anglicans who insist on following “...the Faith once given….”

I wonder how good he is at addressing the “brokenness” of humankind which often manifests itself in sinful practices outside of a faithful marriage between one man and one woman.

Can he tell us how his lawsuit will advance “...the Faith once given…,”
or is that Faith a ‘passe thing’ that needs to be put on a shelf
while the the ‘great advances’ of the secular world are placed ‘front and center’ as his diocese’s replacements to “...the Faith once given…?”

November 15, 10:08 pm | [comment link]
7. swac wrote:

Can I give you unhappy people some advise? Go build your own church. Forget about retaining what you think you own. You will be much happier and spiritually blessed.

November 15, 11:43 pm | [comment link]
8. Ad Orientem wrote:

Re #s 5 & 7
Well said.

November 16, 12:25 am | [comment link]
9. Scatcatpdx wrote:

I agree with the 5 and 7 . When our church, St. Matthews in Portland, Oregon, voted to leave the Episcopal, Using the basis put fort in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, we decided not pursue ownership in the courts but to turn all property to those who wish to remain with the Episcopal Church. Sometimes one need to count the cost when standing for the truth.

November 16, 3:08 am | [comment link]
10. Ed McNeill wrote:

#3 Jamesw, the thing I find important for the departing congregations is the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.  It matters little what happens to the property. It is no longer relevant unless the churches appeal.

I appreciate the decision to appeal and the decision to walk away.  Our circumstances made it clear that walking away was the decision, and I understand and support those who decide to contest for the property. 

What I would like to convey to the churches loosing their buildings is the joy of living in the Gospel free of the conflict.  It truly is marvelous.  In this moment of not knowing where you will settle, and what kind of property you will find, you will discover anew the amazing providence that God holds for the faithful. Enjoy! grin

November 16, 4:48 am | [comment link]
11. Milton wrote:

Can I give you unhappy people some advise(sic)? Go build your own church.

That’s what those who gutted the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints should have done decades ago, instead of telling Satan’s lies from inside the church.  But when the first Christian converts were driven from Jerusalem by persecution, they spread the faith even faster and farther than possible had they stayed in Jerusalem.  May these faithful Anglicans do the same now that they have been driven from buildings they maintained and paid for, and may the buildings now be a millstone around the necks of the apostates.

November 16, 10:06 am | [comment link]
12. AnglicanFirst wrote:

The point that I eas making (#6.) was made not in reference to those who follow “...the Faith once given….”

It was made regarding the scurrilous behavior of those who stoop to seizing places of worship as a negative act against those who follow “the Faith once given….”

In my opinion, seizing the places of worship of deeply convicted Christians through the use of legal stratgems in the courts is a very public and unChristian act on the part of other persons purporting to be Christians.

November 16, 10:41 am | [comment link]
13. Milton wrote:

Actually, AnglicanFirst, my #11 was responding to swac’s #7, who seems to think the opposite of both of us.

November 16, 12:37 pm | [comment link]
14. jamesw wrote:

Ed:  This decision affects my parents’ parish (St. Matthews’, Abbotsford) and SJS which was an important parish in my moving over to Anglicanism.  I also have some personal knowledge of and a severe distaste for Michael Ingham and some of the liberal hangers-on at St. Matthew’s.

Responding to your points - I agree with you that the focus of the parish must be to move forward, and I also agree with you that they will almost certainly look back years down the road and realize that this decision was a tremendous gift to them, albeit one disguised as a defeat.  I also agree that the parishes themselves ought not to look back, but rather to take on the future challenge joyfully.

However, stepping back as an Anglican observer, I have an interest in North American Anglicanism that goes beyond just the ACNA.  The ACNA is part of the Anglican future, but only a part.  The other part is whatever can survive from the currently imploding ACoC and TEC.  In my opinion, one of the best things that can happen in North American Anglicanism (and, of course, subordinate to the evangelistic success and thriving of new orthodox Anglican church plants and replants of departing parishes) is the financial insolvency of the liberal church hierarchy.  It is only when these liberal vandals and parasites have been destroyed that a new comprehensive Anglicanism can finally emerge.  Thus, I think that all North American Anglicans have a strong interest in the financial collapse of institutions like the Diocese of New Westminster.  Not as our main focus, and not as part of the mission of any particular church plant or parish, but rather as points of discussions between wonks like us on blogs like this.

November 16, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
15. swac wrote:

jamesw wrote- It is only when these liberal vandals and parasites have been destroyed that a new comprehensive Anglicanism can finally emerge.
I find that language distasteful at the very least and decidedly unchristian.
We all see through the glass, darkly. My Christian education stressed the premise that the means never justifies the ends.
What means are you suggesting when you speak of destroying liberals?

November 16, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
16. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Can I give you unhappy people some advise [sic]?”

Who’s unhappy?  I for one am having a great time and have rarely ever been in such fine fettle.

Of course, being “happy” is not the purpose of the Christian life.  Being faithful is.  I’m thrilled that these churches have fought for justice—good work on their part.  But sometimes the law countenances injustice—legalized theft—and that is just what we all have to live with.  No big deal—nothing of eternal consequence.  One move on in joy.

Also—why any of us would we be interested in advice from someone who doesn’t share the same gospel is beyond me.  Or is swac just trolling because he has a lot of time on his hands?

November 16, 2:05 pm | [comment link]
17. swac wrote:

Sarah, how about Joyful? But then unjoyful is not common usage.
I worship in a church that split in 2007. I remember the unhappy and stressful times. I would not wish that on anyone.

November 16, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
18. Sarah wrote:

Joy is certainly on aspect of the fruit of the Spirit.  I don’t see how being faithful and doing what one deems to be right is not joyful though.

“Stress” does not necessarily produce unhappiness or lack of joy.

No, by and large, if one is confident in one’s decisions, as sad as a loss may be, the Holy Spirit will usually bring joy.

The only person who appears to be unhappy on this thread is the person running around advising people to be happy and leave. ???  A bizarre bit of advice if I’ve ever heard one.

I’m happy—and I’m staying.  That won’t however keep me from pointing out where miscarriages of justice have taken place.  Legalized theft is always a sad thing, but I’m sure people will carry on without their property and be full of joy.

November 16, 3:18 pm | [comment link]
19. jamesw wrote:

jamesw wrote- “It is only when these liberal vandals and parasites have been destroyed that a new comprehensive Anglicanism can finally emerge.”  I find that language distasteful at the very least and decidedly unchristian.

swac - why do you find it so?  Liberals are vandals in that they are destroying something, just like the original Vandals who invaded Rome, occupied it, and destroyed it.  Liberals are parasites in that they could not exist on their own - they can only exist if someone else is paying the bills.  This is why the ACoC and TEC are in such desperate financial straits right now - the people who historically paid for the church are now either dying or leaving.

What means are you suggesting when you speak of destroying liberals?

Themselves, swac, themselves.  Parasites which successfully kill their hosts die.

November 16, 3:36 pm | [comment link]
20. jamesw wrote:

And, BTW, when I speak of liberals as vandals and parasites, I am NOT referring to the average joe in the pews of a liberal church.  I am referring quite specifically to the liberal activist leadership.

November 16, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
21. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

It fills me with dismay when people argue that these congregations should not have left with the buildings they built because, either they belonged to the bishop, or the diocese, or someone else, or even to them.  The buildings do not belong to the bishop, or the diocese or even the congregation.

If we are Christians, we know that the Church and all parts of it are Christ’s and the congregations which built their places of worship are quite right to defend and hold them for Him, even, or perhaps particularly in the face of heretical bishops like Ingham or Schori.  It is probably a weakness we have as an episcopally led church that if the evil one manages to infiltrate the church at bishop level he can create havoc, as we have seen so many times in North America, and may be about to see in England [although much more subtly in our case].

Christians are right to defend their church, even if they lose in the courts of this world, and the wicked win, for a time. 

I just wanted to express my sympathy with and support for these brave congregations in New Wesminster.  I wish we had an archbishop who would do the same, but that is another matter.  You know that the majority of the world’s Anglicans are supporting you and the important growing provinces, notwithstanding the feeble archbishop’s attempts to marginalise their voices.

I don’t know if the ANiC congregations will appeal, but no one can criticise them if they do since the judge in this case said:

“[The] Bishop and the Diocesan Synod of New Westminster have chosen to pursue the matter to the extent they have — despite the opposition of many of their parishioners,” the judges wrote. “Presumably [they] have chosen to take the risk that the policy allowing same-sex blessings will indeed prove to be ‘schismatic’; or that clergy in the Diocese will for the foreseeable future find themselves ministering to vastly reduced or non-existent congregations. That, however, is their decision to make.” here

And I would also say they have my prayers and if I can offer any encouragement, the Lord does provide good things and look after His people as Fr Matt Kennedy and the Church of the Good Shepherd testify to; I would point to two encouraging passages for times when we are facing what appears to be overwhelming evil: Joshua 5:13-15 and 2Kings 6:15-17

November 16, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
22. robroy wrote:

Fight the good fight and if you loose, so be it. But I would at least make some defense of the property. Ingham is tearing down the Church. The less money he has, the better.

November 16, 8:28 pm | [comment link]
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