Bishop Michael Ingham

Bishop Michael Ingham has reissued new “Bishop’s Expectations for All Clergy” for priests and deacons in the Diocese of New Westminster.

Before revising the document, the bishop asked for advice from the Ordained Ministry Division, one of the standing committees of the diocese, said the chair, the Rev. Lynne McNaughton.

Most of the 17 expectations are similar to or the same as those issued by the bishop when first put in a diocesan policy manual in 1998, but a few are new.

Priests and deacons for several years have been expected to take a spiritual retreat at least once a year, or become involved in a program of spiritual direction. Now they are expected to do both.

McNaughton said that since clergy constantly give spiritual direction – formal and informal – to parishioners, her committee thought it important for clergy to also work regularly on their own spiritual development, and the bishop agreed.

She said the document does not dictate how clergy should fulfill this expectation – whether by having a formal, paid spiritual director, or by regularly but informally talking to a “soul friend.”

Another new expectation comes from the Anglican Church of Canada now being in “full communion” with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Clergy were expected to foster healthy relations ecumenically with Lutherans and other faith communities in their region.

The clergy are now expected to support parish initiatives in producing ministry plans, using the diocesan “Get fit/Keep fit” program or something similar.

Another new part of the document is a bishop’s expectation that clergy read and agree to the national church document “Dignity, Inclusion and Fair Treatment,” passed by the General Synod in 2001.It states that the Church has to follow general principles of human rights in dealing with employees or anyone ministered to.

There can be no discrimination on the basis of “age, sex, sexual orientation, family or marital status, race, colour, ethnic (or place of ) origin, ancestry, disability, creed or social-economic status,” according to the national document.

The document continues unchanged the statement issued in 2003 that all priests and deacons “freely and without discrimination” may invoke the conscience clause applicable to the blessing of same-sex unions and in no way be involved in blessing homosexual couples.

McNaughton said that the Ordained Ministry Division felt that wardens and other parish officials should be aware of the list of expectations, which explain why their priests can often be away from the parish spending time on diocesan activities – the annual clergy conference, and diocesan, archdeaconry, and deanery meetings. Clergy working as priests for the diocese are also expected to take three weeks of study leave each year.

No sanctions are included in the document to detail what happens if clergy fail to live up to the expectations. McNaughton said that the point of the document is for clarity of communication; it is not intended to be punitive or disciplinary.

The full list of Bishop’s Expectations can be found in the Downloadable Resources (under Clergy Resources).