Bishop Michael Ingham told Diocesan Synod that as bishop he has a responsibility to ensure that schism does not become normal or accepted in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Archdeacon Ronald Harrison, Bishop Michael Ingham, and Chancellor George Cadman at the head table at the 2008 Diocesan Synod.

In a report on May 30 to about 300 synod members, about a third clergy and the rest lay, the bishop insisted that the decision of four congregations to join the South American Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, was not simply “divorce” but “schism…the setting up of a unlawful authority” to challenge the rightful authority, which is Diocesan Synod.

“I am fully aware that nobody wishes to see the church diverted from its mission by theprospect of civil litigation over property,” he said.

“But schism cannot stand, for if it were allowed to stand it would undermine the mission of the church across this country.”

Chancellor George Cadman, the synod’s chief legal officer, reported that the clergy remaining in four parishes—St. John’s Shaughnessy, St. Matthew Abbotsford, and Good Shepherd and St. Matthias/St. Luke of Vancouver—have relinquished and abandoned ordained ministry within the Anglican Church of Canada, and by remaining in parish buildings they are now trespassing.

Following the bishop and chancellor’s comments, Geoffrey Burgess of St. Stephen, , insisted that the members of the dissident parishes “must still be regarded as Anglicans” and should not be “turfed out of their parishes.”

The bishop replied that no members of any congregation were being “turfed out.” The diocese’s complaint was with clergy who have rejected their bishop and synod’s authority.

Lois Godfrey of St. Margaret’s, Cedar Cottage, said, “There’s always a flip side to everything,” adding that St. John’s had given much to the diocese, especially its fine music ministry.

 The bishop agreed that St. John's had a fine music ministry, and that it is his intent to keep St. John's a parish within the Diocese of New Westminster for people who wish to wish to worship in the Anglican Church of Canada.

John Smith of St. Michael’s, , said it was regretful that many people in the dissident parishes were withdrawing from the diocese, but their choice to leave, and they were not being forced out. “This is a matter of property, not people,” he said.

Dr. Emmanuel Oyesiku of St. Michael’s thanked the bishop and chancellor for their analysis, and the distinction between parishes, which are integral parts of the diocese, and congregation, groups of people, who may leave. He also urged the bishop to “use your good offices and serious restraint.”

Bishop Michael Ingham’s remarks on the action of four congregations disaffiliating from the Anglican Church of Canada can be found here.