Bishop Michael Ingham has urged members of his diocese to take the long view and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.

“Above all, let’s get on with the normal work of being the church,” he stated on Nov. 23 in a memorandum sent to his 125 active clergy.

Bishop Michael Ingham

His letter followed the announcement by a breakaway group, the Anglican Network, announcing in Burlington, Ontario, that it was setting up a parallel Church structure in Canada, but attempting to maintain Anglican ties through a South American Province of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Ingham said the announcement was not surprising, for there have been signs of today’s developments for years.

At least ten years ago some groups have been laying the groundwork for separation from their national Anglican Churches, stating their intention to be in communion only with those who held their view of human sexuality, the bishop said.

For the groups to attempt now to lay blame for their departure on the Diocese of New Westminster’s actions in 2002 or the US Episcopal Church’s decisions in 2003 is “a denial of history and an avoidance of responsibility.”

“The seeds of this breakaway movement were laid long before same sex blessings were authorized in [the Diocese of] New Westminster or a partnered gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire.”

“Every effort has been made, both in New Westminister [diocese] and across the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide space for genuine differences of conviction on non-essential matters of faith,” said Bishop Ingham.

“We have recognized the difficult place in which many of those of minority opinion find themselves--and there are many minorities, not just one—and have sought to foster mutual respect and mutual support,” he said.

“The vast majority of conservative and traditional Anglicans in Canada understand and accept this, and will stay with their church. This is not a ‘conservative breakaway.’ It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the body of Christ.”

“No Canadian Anglican is being compelled to act against their conscience in matters of doctrine or ethics, and so there is no need for ‘safety’ from ecclesiastical oppression,” he insisted. He advised his clergy to emphasize in their preaching and leadership the church’s mission of outreach to the community and care of parishioners—and not church “politics.”

“Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization,” he said, “the “heartless conservative” or the “unbiblical liberal.’ “

“Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot,” he advised.

“Take the ‘long view’ – i.e., remember the consistent triumph of the Gospel over the historic fragmentation of the church, and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.”
The text of the bishop's letter to clergy is available here.