A Pastoral Message to the Diocese of New Westminster from the Bishop

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Dear Friends in Christ:

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lambeth Commission on Communion has released its Report this week after a year of careful study and consultation with various parts of the Anglican Communion. We need to listen carefully to what it says. The Anglican Communion is very important to everyone in our diocese. We should pay careful attention to the Report and study it with open hearts and minds.

It contains a serious rebuke not merely for our decision to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions but more particularly for doing so in advance of agreement on this matter across the Church as a whole. We are judged to have acted unilaterally and to have breached the bonds of affection that hold our worldwide Communion together. The report does not challenge our right to have made the decision, but the wisdom of doing so against the wishes of the various Anglican Instruments of Unity.

Some media coverage has portrayed us as rejecting the conclusions of the Commission, but I want to make it clear that this is not true. The Report asks that I express regret on behalf of the Diocese for breaching the bonds of affection, and I have done so. Our Synod will review all the other suggestions in the Report thoroughly and in due course, and our official response will be decided then. Until that time, I have said we will continue as we are. The proper forum for making these decisions is the Synod, and I will not presume the outcome of those deliberations.

I urge everyone to continue in friendship and mutual respect both with those whose deep convictions are expressed clearly in the Commission's Report and who hold to a traditional position on these matters, and also with the gay and lesbian members of our church who have felt affirmed and respected by our decisions. My constant experience of New Westminster Anglicans is that we hold dearly to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and place a very high value on the bonds of affection that mark our Communion. We need to deepen these virtues now in ourselves and reach out to one another in love.

Reception of this Report will take many months. We should give it all the time it needs. Let us use this period to seek reconciliation with those from whom we have become alienated, assuring them that our intentions continue to be to include and not to exclude, and seek the restoration to our fellowship of those who have become separated. And let us remain a church where no one who desires to live a faithful life before God is denied.

Kindest regards,

The Right Reverend Michael Ingham