Plaintiffs, from dissident parishes in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, have initiated further legal action by filing an Application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The clergy currently leading these congregations voluntarily resigned from the Anglican Church of Canada in February of 2008 and have aligned themselves with bishops outside the authority and jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Bishop Michael Ingham invited the Trustees from each of the dissident parishes to meet with him by mid January 2011 to discuss appointment of clergy and an orderly transition. They have declined to do so. To be compliant with the unanimous decisions of the Judges of the BC Courts the trustees are required to work with the Bishop in the appointment of new clergy, licensed by the Bishop to replace those who have resigned. Clergy, formerly of the Anglican Church of Canada must, in compliance with the court decisions, relocate their ministries to other locations.
In their arguments, filed on January 13th 2011, legal counsel for Trustees of these 4 parishes (Vancouver’s St. John's Shaughnessy, St. Matthias & St. Luke, Church of the Good Shepherd and St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford) request that the Supreme Court of Canada overturn the results of the BC Supreme Court (November 25th, 2009
) and the BC Court of Appeal (November 15th, 2010
). In both these decisions the church properties were affirmed as being under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of New Westminster and its Bishop to be used for the worship of the Anglican Church of Canada under the leadership of clergy licensed by the Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster.
The Diocese of New Westminster, having received these arguments, will need to file its response within 30 days. A Panel of the Supreme Court of Canada will then determine whether Leave should be granted to hear this further legal action by the dissidents.
Should it be granted, it is likely that the earliest the appeal would be heard is autumn 2011, with a decision following, perhaps as late as the spring 2012.
There are no agreements in place with the Bishop or the Diocese that would allow the clergy to continue in their ministries in these premises. Prior agreements that were in place have expired. In order for these dissident clergy to continue in possession of the church buildings they currently occupy, they will need to bring an application for a Stay of Proceedings, as the Diocese wishes to move ahead with resumption of Anglican Church of Canada worship as soon as possible. Counsel for the Diocese will respond to this application when and if it is made. Diocesan Chancellor George Cadman, Q.C., will also be consulting with the Executive Officers of the Diocese and the Bishop with recommendations as to actions to be taken.