Anglican Samizdat

January 26, 2010

Diocese of BC makes “visionary” changes; closes 13 churches

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 9:00 pm

The diocese of BC’s Diocesan Transformation Team (DTT) has been at work. This report is at pains to point out that the diocese is not “closing parishes in order to prop up a dying institution or to delay its inevitable collapse”. That is the last thing on Bishop Cowan’s mind: apparently, it’s all about mission, about being “a people on a journey” and, no, not people on a journey to oblivion.

What is this mission? It’s hard to say for sure, but In October last year Cowan, in a CBC interview, declared that he wants to “forge a deeper connection with the culture and engage in more “social justice” and ”spirituality”; in December last year he reversed a policy that prohibits clergy in same-gender relationships from serving in the diocese. It sounds as if the mission is more of the same pseudo-Christian clap-trap that has brought the diocese to where it is today.

On the other hand, Cowan in a recent edition of the diocesan paper said:

We can reduce, reduce, reduce. We can restructure, redefine and try to work smarter. These we must do. But unless we couple reduction and restructuring with spiritual renewal and the reclamation of those aspects of faith which are both central and essential to Christianity the downward trends of Anglican ‘religion’ on these islands will continue.

If, by “spiritual renewal and the reclamation of those aspects of faith which are both central and essential to Christianity” he means what J. I. Packer would mean if  he said it, then perhaps there is some hope for the diocese; I suspect he doesn’t, though. If he did, a letter like this would never have been written:

I believe the Diocese of British Columbia has not dealt with the cause of division in this diocese. This avoidance has caused the Diocese to look like it cares more for buildings than it does for its people, who are so discontented with the situation in the ACoC that they are choosing to leave it. Rather than deal with the theological concerns of conservative Anglicans, the Diocese is more than willing to allow conservatives to “vote with their feet.” Of 395 people on the roll of St Matthias, only 24 (as recorded at the subsequent St Matthias Vestry) remained in the ACoC following the vote to join the Anglican Network in Canada. Of those who voted, 94.5% elected to rejoin the worldwide Anglican Communion, from whom we had been cut off by the actions of the ACoC, which led 22 Provinces to declare broken and impaired communion with the ACoC.

This would not have happened:

Parishioners of St Mary of the Incarnation (Metchosin) in Victoria were locked out of their church by Bishop James Cowan of the Diocese of British Columbia on April 4th. A court ordered the Diocese to return the church building to the parishioners the following day and ordered the parties to return to court before May 3 to consider a longer interim order.

And neither would this:

Today, Thursday February 26th, 2009, I accepted on behalf of the Bishop the following resignations:

♦ The Reverend Canon Ronald Corcoran, as Rector of St. Matthias, Victoria, and as a Diocesan Canon and priest of the Diocese of British Columbia.

♦ The Reverend Rodney May as Priest Associate of St. Matthias, Victoria and priest of the Diocese of British Columbia.

♦ The Reverend Glenn Sim as priest of the Diocese of British Columbia. As well, I have withdrawn the Permission to Officiate of the Reverend Michael Pountney, a retired priest of the Diocese of Toronto living in Victoria. All four have indicated that they could no longer give their obedience to the authority over them, namely, the Bishop of British Columbia. They have stated their intention to receive licenses from Donald Harvey and the Anglican Network in Canada. While they have said that their resignations became effective on March 8th, 2009, I have exercised the Bishop’s prerogatives as bishop and employer to withdraw Licences and Permissions to Officiate effective today, with payout of compensation due. The clergy have all been informed that they must depart from the premises of St. Matthias, and may only return with the permission of the Bishop or his designate

So what is so important that James Cowan is desperate enough to use the language of evangelicals? The DDT report has the answer: “The DTT concluded: If it is to survive, the Diocese is going to look different.”

The diocese isn’t restructuring to win souls for Christ, it is restructuring to survive.



  1. The principle instinct of a bureaucracy is for self preservation. Cowan is a consummate bureaucrat masquerading as a Christian.
    He has much to answer for.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 26, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

  2. That’s an interesting typo, David “DDT Report”….

    Comment by Kate — January 27, 2010 @ 8:39 am

  3. I know this isn’t about BC or Niagara (my favourite diocese to mock) but the Diocese of Huron saw a new rebellion last Sunday as the first service of the “Community Church of Anglicans” held their first service near Owen Sound. They have rented a former Anglican church from the local town administration, packed in an electric organ, a suitcase of prayer books and hymnals (thrown out by another church in Brantford)and with a strong youth contingent look likely to succeed.

    Comment by obituary — January 27, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  4. please excuse the grammar.

    Comment by obituary — January 27, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  5. Kate #2 – ‘Freudian slips’ could possibly be God speaking?! [I missed it on the first read – and then had to hunt].

    obituary #3 – I hadn’t heard that – wonderful! Are they ANiC affiliated?

    Comment by Margo — January 27, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  6. Kate [#2],
    🙂 Yes; I could fix it I suppose, but it looks good the way it is.

    Comment by David — January 27, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  7. Margo #5

    As far as I know they are really a total grassroots bunch and have not settled on any affiliation though they are having visiting clergy for the proposed once a month Eucharist. They have been twice bitten by the ACoC and are very leery. Otherwise its all Evensong and Morning Prayer from the BCP for the other Sundays.
    If I ever get up there I’ll send David here more info.

    Comment by obituary — January 27, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  8. Hello everyone,

    I am a member of this new group that Worships in Hepworth (half way between Owen Sound and Wiarton). Presently we have Priest from the Anglican Catholich Church of Canada providing us with the once a month Eucharist. You are correct in that we are not affiliated with any group. Time will tell which group (ACCoC or ANiC) we eventually end up associating/affiliating with.

    Worship services are Sunday’s at 9:30. Location is the former Anglican Church on the East side of Bruce Street just north of Queen Street. Bruce and Queen Streets are both part of Highway 6 between Owen Sound and Wiarton.

    Comment by AMPisAnglican — January 29, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  9. AMPisAnglican (#8), I was the regular force liaison officer to an air cadet squadron in Wiarton in the late 80s when I was based in Borden, and drove up there on several occasions. I don’t specifically remember the name Hepworth, but I guess I went through it. Pretty country. I think the squadron closed in the early 90s.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  10. Hello Warren (#9)
    If you can come and visit our new Congregation please be sure to look me up. I was in R.C.Air C. Squadron 758 in Brampton back in the early 80’s.

    Comment by AMPisAnglican — January 29, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

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