Anglican Dioceses of BC Enter Survival Mode

david at david at
Fri Aug 26 09:44:55 EDT 2011

Anglican Dioceses of BC Enter Survival Mode
It's the kiss of death, says a layman

By David W. Virtue 
August 24, 2011

 With diminishing numbers of people and thinning resources the Anglican Church of Canada's most western province is gearing up for what is being called by its critics a "survival mode" strategy.

The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia (B.C.) announced in January, 2011, that it planned to close 19 of its churches in the Capital Region prompting anger from some that were still viable.

A Provincial Task Force was assembled to look into the possible restructuring of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and Yukon. It consists of The Most Reverend John Privett, Bishop of Kootenay and Metropolitan of the "Province," The Right Reverend James Cowan, Bishop of British Columbia, the Venerable John Bailey, Archdeacon of the Diocese of New Westminster's Westminster Archdeaconry and Canon Dr. Randall Fairey, Executive Officer of the Diocese of Kootenay.

Diocesan Councils around the "Province" will be asked to participate at their fall meetings in a discussion about shared ministry in several areas identified by the Task Force: educational programs, congregational development, clergy conferences, youth ministry, administrative functions, and human resources to name a few.

>From these and other discussions, the Task Force hopes to receive constructive ideas as it prepares its Report for the Provincial Synod in 2012.

To assist these discussions and to create some context, the Provincial Task Force approached the Diocese of New Westminster's Archivist, Melanie Wallace, and Diocesan Communications Officer Randy Murray to assist with the project.

This request resulted in the planning and pre-production of a short film to be produced and shown at the Diocesan Council meetings throughout the "Province" prior to a discussion facilitated by a member or representative of the Provincial Task Force.

"It's the kiss of death," a local Anglican layman told VOL. "They are doing a video trying to paint a wonderful portrait of Anglicanism in the West, but it is nothing more than a wonderful picture portrait of a dying Anglicanism in the province of BC.

"New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham may have thought he had won when he legally obtained control of the properties of four leading parishes in the west, the largest being St. John's Shaughnessy, but the victory is entirely pyrrhic. He got four empty buildings and a handful of people. The trend of the diocese is a downward trajectory and nothing can stop it. He will soon be history. Getting rid of his orthodox wing was his worst decision."

The Diocese of New Westminster is also coming to grips with dwindling church attendance. Bishop Ingham and Dean Peter Elliott would like to sell some buildings, according to a Diocesan report. "The institutional form of churches is changing," says Peter Elliott, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. Some churches may merge or close because of a shift of populations from urban to suburban areas, but new churches may be started, officials say.

Ingham noted that the Anglican Church has church buildings where they don't need them, that there are too many too close together in West Vancouver, and not enough in Surrey. He has not planted a single church in Surrey.

The downgrading includes the "whole geographical" Anglican province, the source told VOL. "This is truly the great saga of the Incredible Shrinking Diocese of Far Western Canada. Forget the spin, this is the beginning of real shrinkage for the Dioceses of New Westminster and British Columbia ... it's gone far towards "End Game" for both."


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