Bishop Michael Ingham sat down with a group of 17 Anglicans from parishes across the Diocese to talk about several issues facing the Church and answer questions they had.

The session—which was video taped—touched on several topics: Can Anglican parishes leave the diocese (the Bishop said they can’t); what will be different for people who leave the Anglican Church of Canada; are current disputes draining the diocese’s energy; and what does the Bible say about current disputes.

The Bishop stressed that Anglicans belong to a diocesan Church. Dioceses establish parishes—and not the other way round. There is no legal precedent which would allow members of a congregation who choose to leave the diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada to take parish lands, building, or other assets with them.

In November, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone indicated it would accept as members Canadian Anglican churches that are in theological dispute with their bishops and dioceses.

A group of parishes forming the “Anglican Network in Canada” have indicated that if their membership agrees, they would attempt to leave the diocese and join this foreign province, based in South America. Four parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster are listed on the Anglican Network’s website as member parishes.

Bishop Ingham told the group that met at Christ Church Cathedral, where the taping took place, that there is sincere disagreement as to what the few passages in the Bible say about such things as homosexuality.

He said the diocese will continue to reach out to those who disagree with the decision of the Diocesan Synod—and now Synods in three other Canadian dioceses (Niagara, Ottawa, and Montreal)—to offer a blessing of same sex unions. (Bishops in those three dioceses have accepted the decisions of their Synods but have not yet approved a specific rite of blessing. Bishop Ingham issued a rite for the Diocese of New Westminster in 2003.)

In his talk with the group, Bishop Ingham insisted that the disputes, though prominent in secular media, have not diverted the Anglicans in the Diocese of New Westminster from continuing their Christian mission of community outreach and care of parishioners.

Participating with the Bishop were Jerry Adams, Linda Adams, Jim Bennett, Sally Clinton, Jennifer Dezell (and her son Sam), Laurie Dye, Daphne Francis, Hales Jones, Diana King, Scott Larsen, Barbara Ann Milroy, John Milroy, Oliver Longman, Donelda Parker, Alex Starr, JoAnne Stephens, and Shirin Thephilus.

The videos have been posted on YouTube.

Can a parish leave a diocese?
What would be different for people who leave?
What about diocesan outreach?
What about the Bible and the blessing?