Several Diocese of New Westminster clergy who continue to protest the blessing of same sex unions have told Bishop Michael Ingham they "remain prayerfully hopeful that reconciliation can be accomplished in the Diocese of New Westminster."

However, without a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions, the group stated that it could see no basis for reconciliation "at this time."

The response, received February 1, was in reply to Bishop Ingham's invitation, sent December 2, that the group "come back to the table" to find out if reconciliation is possible.

The bishop had suggested that all parties consider a proposal from the Canadian House of Bishops for shared episcopal ministry. This would involved the work of a second bishop acceptable to the group to minister to them.

The letter came from the rectors of St. Matthew's, Abbotsford, and the Vancouver parishes of Holy Cross, Good Shepherd, St. Luke and St. Matthias, and St. John's Shaughnessy, plus the former diocesan Holy Cross mission in Abbotsford.

Listening Carefully - The diocesan reconciliation task force, pictured at Docesan Council, includes (L-R) Muriel Kerr of All Saints Ladner, the Rev. Allan Carson of St. Cuthbert's, Delta, the Rev. Paul Borthistle (diocesan staff), and the Rev. Kevin Dixon (chair) of St. Mary's Kerrisdale. Absent is Margaret Jonsson of Christ Church Cathedral.

Bishop Ingham read the letter to Diocesan Council last month after council members engaged in a discussion as to whether reconciliation was possible. The discussion was led by the task force on reconciliation set up by the Diocesan Synod last May, which is to report to the council in April and the Synod this coming May.

A range of opinion was expressed. The Rev. Stephen Muir of St. Monica's, West Vancouver, thought that the diocese and the protesting parishes were at the point of divorce and the question was whether `we can have an amicable divorce, or not."

"I think reconciliation is possible and it is imperative," said the Rev. Michael Batten, clerical secretary to the council. "We need to persevere and we need to talk to each other."

"My own view is that this is a long term issue," said Bishop Ingham. "We must always be open to reconciliation." He said differences may take years to resolve.