Anglican Samizdat

February 22, 2009

Diocese of Niagara: In Pursuit of Vindictiveness

Filed under: Diocese of Niagara — David Jenkins @ 3:44 pm

A brief summary of the plot so far:

Attempts to negotiate outside the courts
The parishes that left the Diocese of Niagara to realign with the Province of the Southern Cone have been taken to court by the diocese. ANiC’s lawyers have repeatedly asked the diocese to negotiate outside the courts; they were refused. Bishop Don Harvey has repeatedly asked Fred Hiltz to have one of the conversations that Hiltz is so fond of; he was refused.

The judge at the last court appearance ordered ANiC and the diocese to share the buildings and the cost of maintaining the buildings. The diocese has yet to pay anything towards the upkeep of the buildings, while, in St. Hilda’s case, having no compunction about driving out 100 people who need it with 5 people who don’t. If the diocese and ANiC could not agree on respective costs, the court ruled that an independent arbitrator mediate a solution. ANiC proposed an arbitrator early on; the diocese refused.

It appears that the diocesan lawyer is not completely daft though: it has occurred to him that the diocese will look bad in the next court appearance if they have obviously refused mediation. Therefore, they have recently sent an email to ANiC asking why there is a holdup on mediation; and they suggested the same arbitrator that ANiC originally proposed.

How much his this costing
The last court appearance was an appeal by ANiC. ANiC lost the appeal, so the diocese were awarded costs. The diocesan lawyers had charged $70,000 for the appeal. The judge viewed this as excessive and awarded them $20,000.

At the next costs hearing, the diocese will be asking for around $240,000 in legal fees; these fees are just for the court appearances that were to decide on whether the buildings were to be shared. ANiC’s legal fees are about one quarter. To gain perspective on this: an example of what the diocese has achieved at St. Hilda’s by spending $240,000, is that every Sunday morning, Cheryl Fricker from St. Aidan’s, Oakville attracts between 4 and 5 people from her own congregation to show up at an 8:30 service in St. Hilda’s building. That’s $4,615 per service or, over the year, $48,000 per person.

Oakville is not a particularly rough part of Canada and it isn’t full of vandals whose calling in life is to remove church signs; St. Hilda’s has only experienced vandalism twice in its entire history. Someone obviously doesn’t like the diocese very much and has pinched their sign. The diocese has retaliated: we received an email from them threatening criminal prosecution if there is a repeat performance. And the neighbours have been asked to keep an eye open for nefarious sign-destroying miscreants. Vandalism has never been a particularly alluring temptation for me, but now – Must. Resist.

A Profusion of Prosecutions
Not content with taking all the ANiC parishes to court, the Diocese of Niagara is also suing the wardens of the parishes – personally. Who cares what for? It’s all about inclusion, after all.

Who paid whom
When St. Hilda’s was built the Diocese of Niagara lent the parish $4,000 to get started. Since then, the parish has paid back over $1,000,000 to the diocese in assessments and offerings. A diocesan bishop promised, in writing, that if the parish completed their building, the diocese would pay to pave the parking lot. It didn’t.

Whoever ends up winning the buildings in court, one thing is clear: they belong to the ANiC parishioners who have a legitimate use for them, not to the suits with backwards collars or the odious allotheist with the oven mitt on his head.



  1. Unless the diocese has actual evidence that an ANiC individual pinched the sign, the threatening letter could be considered harassment. Also, asking neighbours to spy for the diocese is rather presumptuous. I hope the neighbours told the diocese to get lost.

    Comment by Scott Gilbreath — February 22, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

  2. The Diocese erected their signs the Wednesday before last. That night there was a severe windstorm. Their signs have blown down many times in the past and our own rector has graciously picked them up and stood them up again. Given the treatment of our sign before this last event he declined to do so this time.

    Comment by Muriel — February 22, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  3. That’s really rich. The diocese wants the very people that they kicked out of their own church to take care of their sign! Wow. This is beyond arrogance.

    Comment by jim Muirhead — February 22, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

  4. suits with backwards collars

    Ha! Very good. Perfectly sums up the tendencies of organisational clerics.

    Comment by Ian — February 23, 2009 @ 7:56 am

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