St. John’s Shaughnessy, Vancouver

My father was the rector of St. John'S Shaughnessy from 1950 to 1963, during my teenage and early married years. As with many clergy families, the parish life defined our home life. My father, who always tithed 10 per cent of his modest salary back to the church, was very rarely home in the evenings, being taken up with committee meetings.

We children stacked thousands of chairs, set up thousands of tables, and washed perhaps a million dishes in the church kitchen. We loved being part of the weekly Saturday Night Club, at which approximately 500 teenagers gathered, and the Sunday night service, after which my dad would facilitate wide-ranging faith discussions that were attended by youth from all over the neighbourhood and from the local Jewish community.

Later, I was married in St. John's, had children baptized there, and coordinated the Primary Sunday School. Years after his retirement, my father passed away and was interred in St. John's Memorial Garden, while the church members dedicated the Trendell Lounge to his memory.

For all these reasons, and more, I still consider St. John's part of 'my' spiritual home, though I now attend my local parish in North Vancouver. The current congregation of St. John's is just a snapshot in time, but unfortunately it seems that this snapshot wants to run away with the camera.

The parish my father helped build was and is intended to provide spiritual nourishment for members of the Anglican Church of Canada. Just as I honestly don't know what my father's position on same-sex blessings would be, were he here today, we cannot know the convictions of Vancouver Anglicans fifty years in the future. Does today's congregation have the right to rob those people of a worship space within the Canadian church?

As members of the national body, the parish of St. John's has always been subject to, and participated in, the democratic principles that govern the Anglican Church. The move to allow same-sex blessings was not a top-down unilateral decision by Bishop Michael Ingham, but a majority vote by grassroots delegates from every parish.

In fact, the Bishop refused to give his consent to the rite of blessing until three synods, over a period of some years, signalled an ever-growing and more significant majority. Even then, it was left up to each parish to vote on whether it wanted to grant or withhold such blessings. There is plenty of room in the diocese, and a healthy respect, for any parish that decides against making the blessing service part of their community life.

Those people who disagree with the synod vote cannot just pick up their marbles and go home because they don't like the decision of the majority. If people's discomfort with the presence of the blessing service in any diocesan parish is so profound, then they may feel compelled to leave the Anglican diocese and seek a spiritual home that better suits their needs.

But I can't see that they have any claim to property that was built through the financial, emotional, spiritual and physical investment of generations of members of the Anglican Church of Canada, in trust for the Anglicans of the future.

It's sad that members of St. John's have apparently amassed a 'war chest' of a million-plus dollars so they can wage a legal battle against the diocese in a bid to claim the church real estate. Should I be mounting a counter suit, claiming ownership of the "Trendell Lounge" based on my family's investment in the parish?

Perhaps, but one look at the outreach programs of the Anglican Church of Canada-aid in developing countries, emergency relief, refugee support, downtown shelters for the homeless, and a score of others-would remind most people of conscience that our money is better spent elsewhere.