The lawsuit brought against the Diocese of New Westminster by members of four diocesan congregations has been scheduled for trial in British Columbia Supreme Court beginning May 25.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner agreed to the proposal for an accelerated trial date. It was presented by lawyer Geoff Cowper, who was representing certain clergy and parishioners at St. Matthew's, Abbotsford, and at three Vancouver congregations -- St. Matthias & St. Luke, Good Shepherd, and St. John's, Shaughnessy.

The request was supported by the Diocese's lawyer, George Macintosh, who has been engaged to defend the diocese. The parties were in communication in December in order to expedite the process, which otherwise might drag on for many more months or years. They have agreed that much of the evidence will be submitted in affidavit form, and each side will limit the number of witnesses it will call in open court.

At the request of both counsel, the Chief Justice has directed up to three weeks be reserved for the courtroom proceedings. He said he will soon assign a judge to the case.

Those bringing the suit are asking the Court to grant themselves possession of the church properties. The Diocese in a counterclaim action is asking the Court to rule that the clergy involved must return the buildings to diocesan control since they have left the Anglican Church of Canada.