The Diocese of New Westminster welcomed a report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference and stated the hope that it can be a basis of reconciliation with parishes that have protested the blessing of same sex unions.  The report to the Archbishop was released in London on Friday, October 13, following a July visit to the diocese by two members of the 13 member panel. The pair, Mrs Rubie Nottage, the Chancellor of the Province of the West Indies, and the Rev.  Stephen Trott, Church Commissioner, the Church of England, met with all interested parties.

 The statement released by the diocese was this:

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- The Diocese of New Westminster welcomes the report of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference, and hopes it can be a basis of reconciliation with parishes that have protested the Diocesan Synod’s 2002 decision to ask the bishop to authorize a rite for the blessing of same sex unions.

“I do hope the four parishes who have chosen not to participate in the life of the diocese will be open to full re-engagement with the Diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada” said Dean Peter Elliott, who as dean of the diocese is acting bishop (commissary) until Bishop Michael Ingham returns from sabbatical in December.

“We reaffirm our commitment to unity in diversity,” he said. “We respect the conscientious convictions of all members of the diocese. We hope for nothing less than that the parishes which now feel separated from the diocese would be willing to resume their full and proper role in diocesan life and Anglican ministry.”

The report came from an international panel of 13 prominent Anglican experts in Church (canon) law who were appointed last year by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. This report was prompted by a request last year for an alternative bishop from dissenting parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster.

After discussing the matter last spring in London, the panel sent two of its members to Vancouver in July to speak with all parties, and then submitted the report to Archbishop Williams, who accepted it.

In short, the report upholds the adequacy of a process established by the Canadian House of Bishops for “shared Episcopal ministry” for dissenting parishes. Both the Canadian House of Bishops and the Archbishop’s Panel of Reference reject proposals for visiting bishops to have jurisdiction over these parishes. The jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop is a long held practice within the Christian Church.

The Panel of Reference does make suggestions for some changes to the Canadian policy to provide stronger safeguards for Anglicans in dispute with their diocese. “We see no difficulty with these in principle,” said Elliott.

It invites the diocesan officials to meet with some newly formed missions and congregations to explore how they might establish a proper canonical relationship with the diocese. “That we would welcome,” he said.

The parishes currently at odds with the diocese - which however remain full members, even though they seldom participate in diocesan affairs or pay their financial apportionments - are St. John’s Shaughnessy, Good Shepherd, St. Mathias and St. Luke, all of Vancouver, and St. Matthew, Abbotsford.


The text of the panel’s report is available at

For more information please contact:

The Very Rev. Peter Elliott (Commissary of the Diocese of New Westminster)-604 682 3848

Chancellor George Cadman, QC (Chief Legal Officer of the Diocese)-604 647-4123

Neale Adams (Communications Officer)-604 684 6306 ext. 223,