Bishop Michael Ingham and Chancellor George Cadman ponder the motion at Diocesan Council

Talks between the diocese and four protesting parishes should resume soon after Diocesan Council last month agreed to extend the provision of payroll services to their clergy till April 30 of next year.

The Diocesan Councils vote enables clergy at St. Johns Shaughnessy, St. Matthias and St. Luke, St. Matthew, Abbotsford, and Good Shepherd to remain in the Anglican Church of Canadas pension and benefits plan for the present.

Clergy and lay people from these four protesting parishes were among those who walked out of the 2002 Diocesan Synod after a majority voted to ask the bishop to create a blessing of same-sex unions.

Since then, none of these four parishes have paid their diocesan assessments. A diocesan regulation (Regulation 12) insists that before a parish receives payroll services, it must pay its diocesan assessment. To avoid paying money to the diocese, the group set up their own payroll system at St. Johns.

However, last year the Pension Office of the national Anglican Church of Canada ruled that diocesan clergy must go through a diocesan payroll system if they are to remain on the national Churchs pension and benefits plan.

In November, 2006, Diocesan Council agreed to suspend Regulation 12 up to the end of this year while the status of the protesting parishes was sorted out. While not participating in diocese affairs or contributing to its expenses, the four still are officially parishes of the diocese.

The Rev. David Short, rector of St. Johns, in a letter to Bishop Michael Ingham, agreed with a proposal from the bishop that a small working group meet with the intention of seeking clarity with regard to our relationship with the diocese. He asked for the extension of the payroll arrangements until next spring, which will be after annual Vestry meetings have taken place.

The four parishes continue a payroll system for staff who are not clergy.

Diocesan Council member Marcia Sauder of St. Marys Kerrisdale at last months meeting suggested that the council specify that the extension of payroll services hinges on progress being made in the talks with the dissident parishes. I would like to see that in the motion, she said.

But Chancellor George Cadman said he didnt think the specification would be useful. He said he believed that the four parishes were entering into talks with the diocese in good faith.

Cadman said the Diocesan Council still had the option to end the payroll arrangements before the end of April if talks do not go well. If were not moving forward I can say I am going to bring it back to council.

The working group proposed by the bishop would consist of six people, three from the diocese and three from the four parishes.