Archbishop Terry Buckle is willing to appoint an alternative bishop for parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster who continue to protest the Diocesan Synod’s 2002 decision to ask for a blessing of same sex unions.

In a statement issued Friday, October 20, Archbishop Buckle thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference for the "care, diligence, and clarity" of a report that recommended that the four dissenting parishes seek an alternative bishop under the procedure set out in 2004 by the Canadian House of Bishops.

That procedure would see the alternative bishop appointed from a list that Archbishop Buckle maintains as the Metropolitan (Chief Bishop) of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon – one of four regions or provinces that make up the Anglican Church of Canada.

The diocese welcomed the Panel’s report a week ago shortly after it was released, stating the hope that it would be a basis of reconciliation with the protesting parishes.

“As Metropolitan of the Province of British Columbia and Yukon I will respond willing and fully to any request for assistance in implementing the recommendations of the Panel of Reference in concert with the Parishes concerned, the Bishop of New Westminster and the Provincial House of Bishops,” said Archbishop Buckle in his statement.

“All of us in our ecclesiastical province have the unique opportunity to work towards reconciliation and healing ''that the world may believe." I ask all within our province to pray for those who may be taking leadership roles in this work. And I ask all within our province to consider prayerfully the contribution each of us can make to this work we all share,” he said.

At least till now, the leaders of the four parishes have objected to the House of Bishop’s process for the appointment of alternative bishops because the alternative bishop would lack full jurisdiction. The alternative bishop would be charged with working cooperatively with Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham.

As part of their process the dissenting parishes have not paid assessments (parish dues) to the diocese since they walked out of Diocesan Synod in June, 2002. They are St. John’s Shaughnessy, Good Shepherd, St. Mathias and St. Luke, all of Vancouver, and St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford.

The text of the Archbishop’s letter is available here.
Note: This article was edited on Oct. 26 for clarity.