The Diocese of New Westminster on November 5 filed its Statement of Defence and Counterclaim in a second suit brought against it in BC Supreme Court.

The second suit was brought on October 15 by a former clergy, Stephen Leung, and some others at the parish of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Vancouver. Stephen Leung left the Priesthood in the Anglican Church of Canada in April of 2008.

Good Shepherd, primarily Chinese-speaking, was one of the four parishes in the diocese that last February voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and join a dissident group, the Anglican Network in Canada, affiliated with the Church of the Southern Cone of South America.

The Diocese says the voting was contrary to the Canons (bylaws) of the Diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada and is “of no force or effect.”

In its counterclaim, the Diocese is asking the court to declare that the individuals who brought the court action, including Mr. Leung, are not entitled to possession or control of the church building or assets owned by Good Shepherd parish, and to grant a permanent injunction to that effect.

Among the assets the dissident individuals list in their court filing is $2.2 million from the proceeds of the sale of property left to the parish in 1992 by a former member of Good Shepherd, Daphne Chun, for a new church building. This was a sale approved by the Diocese at the time in accordance with Diocesan requirements on the basis that the proceeds would be used for the purposes of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The action involving individuals at Good Shepherd, and the responding Defence and Counterclaim, are similar to the first suit brought in September by former clergy and trustees at three other parishes, and responded to by the Diocese in October.

George Cadman, Diocesan Chancellor (chief legal officer) said he hopes the case can proceed quickly and not drag out. “Court proceedings are very expensive, and we hope to minimize the costs as much as possible.” He said that while people may leave the Church, which the diocese regrets, “They cannot take Church property with them when they go.”

Earlier stories are available on the website.