Statement by Michael Ingham, Bishop of New Westminster

The Anglican Church of Canada remains an integral part of the worldwide mission of the Anglican Communion. Our Primate, Andrew Hutchison, has been at the table all week in Newry, Ireland; Canadian mission partnerships, relief and development efforts, and theological education exchanges with the Provinces of the Communion all remain in place; and Canada continues to be a member of the Anglican Consultative Council in partnership with all other Provinces.

In the midst of some rather distorting reports following the Primates’ Statement today from Northern Ireland, I encourage all Anglicans to read the statement in its entirety.

In this diocese we continue to be a source of hope and encouragement to Christians all around the world, witnessed by the many messages of support still being received. I have just returned from a partnership visit to Taiwan where our Companion Diocese agreement was renewed for a further five years. The warmth and affection between our dioceses is visibly apparent.

Reports that the Communion has gone into schism over the issue of homosexuality are seriously wrong. The Primates have spoken about the deep desire for unity that exists throughout the church, while at the same time acknowledging the difficulties created by disagreements over the place of homosexual Christians in the life of the Church.

They have acknowledged that proper constitutional procedures were followed in both the United Sates and Canada with respect to the recent decisions in these churches, and have called for genuine international consultations to be held on the subject of human sexuality - a call first made by the Lambeth Conference of 1978 but unheeded until now.

The Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council makes no provision for member churches to be “uninvited.” Nor has the Archbishop of Canterbury given any indication of an intention to provoke schism in the Communion by uninviting bishops to the Lambeth Conference. The Primates’ call for the Canadian and American churches “to consider voluntary withdrawal” from the next three meetings from the ACC is carefully worded, and intended to appease the angriest voices in the Communion, but it should be firmly resisted by both churches. ACC is the one place where the provinces are fully represented and where the broadest consultations can and should occur.

To place the Canadian and American delegations in the position of explaining to the ACC why homosexual Christians should receive equal treatment in the church is invidious and unsatisfactory. It continues the Primates’ policy of ignoring homosexual persons themselves, and places North Americans in the position of speaking for Anglicans in all parts of the world, from whom they have no mandate.

I would like to encourage all members of the Diocese of New Westminster to continue in their daily faithfulness, prayer and mission on behalf of Jesus Christ. These developments at the international level are not entirely about sexuality, but rather they reveal a struggle for the direction of the church. In this regard, let us continue to bear witness to the Gospel of love and compassion, remaining a church that strives to include and not exclude, and let us model mutual respect for one another in a time of changing understandings.