Bishop Michael Ingham is asking 11 of his clergy to formally declare whether they’re in or out of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The priests have been involved in a series of meetings in which congregations in four parishes in the diocese have voted to join a foreign Church.

On  February 22, the Bishop sent rectors and clergy working in the parishes involved--St. Matthew’s Abbotsford and St. John’s Shaughnessy--”notice of presumption of abandonment of the exercise of ministry” asking them to tell him whether they have left the ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada, and if they are seeking admission into another religious body outside Canada.

On February 27, the Bishop added the rectors of the Good Shepherd Church, and St. Matthias/St. Luke, both Vancouver parishes, to the list, and a former rector of Christ Church, Hope.

Media reports have indicated that members of the congregations voted to ask Don Harvey, a retired bishop who resigned from the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide episcopal (bishop’s) oversight. Harvey has declared himself to be a bishop of an Anglican Church in South America, the Province of the Southern Cone, based out of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The notices have gone out to the Rev. Don Gardner, the Rev. Daniel Gifford, the Rev. James Packer, the Rev. Richard Roberts, the Rev. David Short, the Rev. Michael Stewart, the Rev. James Wagner, the Rev. Trevor Walters, the Rev. Stephen Leung, the Rev. Simon Chin, and the Rev. Archie Pell.

“We haven’t been formally notified by any of these clergy as to their future intentions since the meetings which we understand they led or participated in,” said George Cadman, Chancellor of the Diocese of New Westminster.

“In our Church we have due process,” said Cadman, who is the diocese’s chief legal officer. “We can’t just rely on media reports. Under our Canon (church) law, the priests have two months to come in and show the bishop that they wish to remain with the Anglican Church of Canada instead of a break-away group.”

After the two months, if he receives no word, Bishop Ingham can then declare they’ve abandoned their ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada. Even after that happens there are several levels of mediation and appeal, Cadman said.

“If they do want to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, I would hope they declare straightway, and not insist we go through a lengthy process,” said Cadman. “In recent years, when priests felt they had to leave the Canadian church, they’ve taken the honorable course and resigned.”

“It’s regrettable when anyone leaves the Church,” said Cadman, “but we do need to get clarity on these matters and get on with the larger work and mission of the Diocese caring for people.”
NOTE - the original story was updated on March 4.