The Primate (Chief Bishop) of the Anglican Church of Canada is urging all parishes to try to work out their differences with their diocesan bishops while staying within the Church.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz said he very much aware of the possibility that at Annual Meetings some congregations might vote to leave and join the Anglican Church in another country.

“I am very concerned that there are a few parishes that may be considering a motion to withdraw from the fellowship of the Anglican Church of Canada, and to place themselves under the jurisdiction of another Province of the Anglican Communion,” he wrote, urging reconsideration.

“It is not necessary for any parish to consider such action. The House of Bishops has designed a model for Shared Episcopal Ministry. This model enables a diocesan Bishop to share his or her Episcopal oversight with another Bishop for parishes finding themselves in conscientious disagreement with the Bishop and Synod over the matter of the blessing of same sex unions.

“With this provision in place there is no need for pastoral interventions by bishops from jurisdictions outside of the Anglican Church of Canada. Such interventions in fact are inappropriate. Indeed the Archbishop of Canterbury in a recent letter to me said he cannot “support or sanction” such actions.

The archbishop indicated that groups will not be allowed to take church property with them if they do vote to leave.

"In our Anglican tradition, individuals who choose to leave the Church over contentious issues cannot take property and other assets with them."

“My hope is that no parish will take action that would compel parish or diocesan leaders to resolve property disputes in the civil courts. Such actions would not only be costly in terms of financial resources but also destructive of the witness of the Church in the world.”

Dean Peter Elliott of Christ Church Cathedral, who is Commissary (Acting Bishop) while Bishop Michael Ingham is absent from the diocese, welcomed Hiltz’s “clear statement.” He commended it to all clergy.

For the text of Archbishop Fred Hiltz’s letter go here.

For the text of Dean Peter Elliott’s letter go here.