Anglican Samizdat

April 6, 2010

Why are churches really being closed in the Diocese of BC?

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 6:39 pm
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The reason the Anglican Church of Canada is coming apart at the seams is that it still adheres (rather tenuously, I suspect) to the historic doctrine of original sin – so says Rev. Derek Dunwoody in the august organ (page 8 ) of the Diocese of BC:

It is obvious that the majority of Canadians have long ago given up buying into the mindset required by the concept of Original Sin. So, I would add, have many if not most of the remaining members of the Diocese of British Columbia. We have outgrown our allegiance to this capricious, petty and easily offended God. The leadership of the diocese needs to recognize this fact and cease to blast us with a stentorian old paradigm style of evangelistic rhetoric.

So there you have it: the Diocese of BC should toss out original sin, then we don’t need salvation or atonement or Jesus dying on the cross or Jesus’ resurrection or churches in which to worship him. We might as well close all the churches – British Columbia: the first sin-free province in Canada.

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Another vapid Anglican mantra: Change is Good!

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 5:31 pm
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A couple of years ago I was walking barefoot around the house when, on my left foot,  I caught the space between the little toe and the toe next to it on the edge of a door. It hurt a bit; I looked down and couldn’t help noticing that my little toe was standing out at a 90 degree angle to it’s normal resting position. When my wife told me I would have to have something done about it, I told her, “not to worry, I’ll cut a hole in all my shoes and let the toe poke out the side. After all, Change is Good!™” I ended up opting for the same old familiar, dull toe angle that my wife was used to; the first thing the doctor said to me when he looked at it was “I bet you don’t want me to touch that”. I’ll spare you what happened next.

Because of financial embarrassment, the Diocese of BC is busy closing churches. Not to worry; as the editor of the Diocesan Post notes (page 5), Change is Good™:

Change really is GOOD.

The Diocese is undergoing a transition and while it is hard, painful for some, a relief for others, it is changing none-the-less. And you, we, as people of Christ, either need to get on board or get off.

Of course, sometimes change is good; that’s why so many parishes have chosen get off the Anglican Church of Canada and realign with vast majority of orthodox Anglicans.

March 11, 2010

The Anglican Church of Canada has been insulted!

Filed under: Anglican Church of Canada — David Jenkins @ 9:48 am
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From the Journal

Bishop James Cowan of the diocese of British Columbia told his synod at the Mar.6-7 meeting that Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was “insulting” in the way he refused to allow eleven priests from the Anglican Church of the province of Myanmar to visit last fall when the diocese was celebrating its 150th anniversary.

“When Victoria MP Denise Savoie tried to speak on our behalf with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, she was rudely received and patronized by him. His correspondence with her is insulting to all concerned,” Bishop Cowan told synod.

A New Democratic Party press release last fall accused the Immigration Minister of being “unwilling to take the word of Canadian church officials about a group of priests with unbreakable ties to their home parishes.

Jason Kenney represents one of the few remaining sins that is still acknowledged by the Anglican Church of Canada: he’s politically conservative. And now he has insulted the ACoC apparatchiks by refusing to take their word that the Myanmar Anglican priests would return to their own country.

Although the visit of the Myanmar priests was probably innocent enough,  Kenney’s mistrust of the ACoC is not entirely unfounded: in 2009 the Anglican Diocese of Montreal sponsored Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian terrorist who conspired with Al Qaeda.

March 7, 2010

The Disintegration of the Diocese of BC

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 7:12 pm
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From the Bishop James Cowan’s charge to synod.

Woodpeckers are eating the cathedral:

For a variety of reasons, the initial design of the East End was modified. As a result, leakage has been a major problem in the East End ever since its completion. As well, some of the materials used for construction of the exterior east wall and transept towers have a lifespan of no more than twenty-five years. While that time is almost up, in fact the lifespan of that material has been considerably lessened, because woodpeckers seem to like it, and the repair of bird holes in the east nave wall and the transept towers has been an almost annual and costly event.

Even though many parishes will be closed, the cathedral will be fixed because it is – well, more important:

It may seem odd that in the midst of budgetary concerns, diocesan staff downsizing, and proposals about the disestablishment of parishes and the regrouping of parishes, there should be thought given to further development of the Cathedral.

Diocesan staff will be laid off:

There will have to be a major downsizing and re-alignment of the Diocesan Staff, and to that end I have consulted with the Officers of Synod, seeking their advice about what that downsizing and realignment might look like. The downsizing of Staff will take place regardless of the decisions which will be made during our consideration of the notices of motion which are before us from the Diocesan Transformation Team.

Parishes will be closed; parishioners will be angry:

I am aware of the anger that confronts us as these recommendations come before us for decision. For many years the buildings in which we worship and through which we minister have been a focus of that ministry and worship.

And the most interesting part: whole dioceses are candidates for closure:

Over the past thirty years, it has been suggested that there are too many Dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada. We have talked about the extensive territory which exists in Canada and the reality of the great distances which separate the communities in which Anglican mission exists. Vast territories and a commitment to ministry in places where there are small numbers have been cited as reasons to let the status quo remain unchanged. The difficulty in bringing about change to the civil legislation which established most if not all of our Dioceses is also cited as reason to do nothing. And, as we continue to maintain our present structures the programmatic support which might be used to extend the proclamation of the Gospel is reduced, and reduced, and reduced.

Somewhere, somehow, this has to end.

The Diocese of Quebec is close to collapse; the Dioceses of Montreal and Toronto are in financial difficulty. So is the Diocese of Niagara, whose bishop has opined that the ideal size for a diocese is 35 parishes – Niagara currently has over 100 parishes.

Cowan seems to recognise that doing more of the same is not going to work:

A variety of sources have defined insanity as just that, doing the same thing while expecting different results. It did not work, it will not work, and the history of our denomination and of the Christian Church both here and in the rest of Canada over the past forty years, shows that working harder at doing the same things does not work.

And yet, although many of the ACoC bishops are feverishly rearranging Anglican trappings in things like Fresh Expressions, doctrinally they are continuing  to plod resolutely down the same road of theological liberalism, and that is – insane.

March 6, 2010

What holds us together as Anglicans?

Filed under: Anglican Church of Canada — David Jenkins @ 12:54 pm
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The Diocese of BC is holding its 93rd synod and Fred Hiltz in his Primatial address answered the question. I’m not sure why he chose this question, since his main area of expertise is Experientially Discerning™ that which divides Anglicans. Nevertheless, here it is:

“What holds us together as Anglicans?” He then listed the usual marks of unity that are commonly cited as maintaining unity within the Anglican Communion – our common faith and tradition, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meetings, the Anglican Consultative Counsel. He suggested that beyond these we are also united in the Eucharist, in our use of the Worldwide Cycle of Prayer and in our Companion Diocese Program.

At least he’s clear that it’s not the Bible or Jesus that unites Anglicans.

March 3, 2010

Diocese of BC: building ambivalence

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 4:28 pm
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Mary Ruth Snyder, the editor of the Diocese of BC’s newspaper, the Diocesan Post is all for sloughing off church buildings in the interest of following Jesus:

Jesus never had a building, that is about as outside as you can get and he is our example, is he not? Let’s show God and Jesus that we have actually been paying attention to their words and their actions and follow the example set by the Son of God.

Let go … and let God.
Let go of the buildings
Let go of the books
Let go of our fears
Let go of our comfort
Let go of our humanistic expectations
Just let go, get outside the lines and see what happens!

Perhaps she didn’t consult the diocese’s bishop, James Cowan before expressing such enthusiasm for a cavalier abandoning of buildings. He seems pretty determined to hang on to them:

Victoria – The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia (Vancouver Island & the Gulf Islands) has asserted its ownership of buildings at 4125 Metchosin Road, in the District of Metchosin, by securing the property with a change of locks and the installation of a monitored alarm system. The property is known as St. Mary of the Incarnation Anglican Church.

The Bishop’s need to “protect and preserve” people and property is a result of the Episcopal and the synodical make-up of Anglicanism in Canada.

The truth of the matter is, when the diocese wants to close down a church in order to sell it, parishioners are reminded that “Jesus never had a building”; when a parish joins ANiC, Cowan feels a sudden need to preserve the “property of the institution in my care”.

At least one thing is consistent in the ACoC: the application of the ethics of self-interest.

January 28, 2010

Diocese of BC: 10 second evangelism training

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 11:21 pm
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More on the Diocese of BC’s plan to close 13 churches:

The diocese of British Columbia has announced a plan to close 13 churches in a dramatic restructuring. While the plan is a response to declining church attendance, Bishop James Cowan says it goes beyond cost-cutting, asking how the church can best focus its resources to carry out its mission as well as rebuild for the future.

Another aspect of the plan is to make the church, including the laity, more outward-looking and able to engage in evangelism. When asked whether traditional Anglican reserve might be an obstacle to this, Bishop Cowan acknowledged that “Anglicans are reserved. And they have this image of evangelism that is the televangelist.” In fact, he said, the kind of evangelism he was referring to has a “10-second training session, which is ‘Would you be interested in coming to church with me?’”

The obvious answer to that last question for most people is “no”. If Cowan were planning a blitz of Alpha courses with thorough leadership training – and he believed what the Alpha course teaches to be true –  his plan could have some chance of success. As it is, his evangelism will probably be reminiscent of the infamous Decade of Evangelism; in the Diocese of Niagara it was run by the nebulochaotic Canon Michael Patterson. The first nine and a half years were spent in trying to decide what the word “evangelism” means and the last 6 months in wrapping things up.

January 26, 2010

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

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

January 9, 2010

Where are the dioceses in Canada getting the money to sue ANiC?

It looks as if they are sharing the load. Here the Diocese of New Westminster is giving the financially troubled Diocese of BC $14,000 to pay for its lawsuit. Perhaps more importantly, the money is coming from the pockets of the average person in the pew who has no idea that it is being used to sue fellow Christians.

The Network, on behalf of the Church of the Open Gate, has sought leave to appeal the Judgement given by Madame Justice Allan with regard to the Church of St. Mary of the Incarnation, Metchosin. The Judge has reserved judgement and we are awaiting word on the appeal. The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of New Westminster has agreed to share in the costs of the court case concerning the initial appeal. They have given the Diocese of British Columbia $14,000 in costs as a result of the research done by the Diocese of British Columbia. The Bishop will write to the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of New Westminster to thank them for their generosity.

November 8, 2009

Open rebellion in the Diocese of BC

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David Jenkins @ 8:53 pm
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Before we get started, I’d like to point out that Bishop James Cowan found time to hobnob with Prince Charles today, so he probably Add an Imagedoesn’t much care that his parishioner-peasants don’t trust him; after all the important thing is keeping up appearances – and he is wearing a lovely hat.

The Diocese of BC is in trouble financially as its members flee to churches that are less diverse and inclusive. Because of this, when he’s not schmoozing with Royalty, James Cowan is planning on “restructuring” the diocese – and as everyone who works in business knows, that means someone is for the chop.

Thus, a team of hit-men cleverly concealed behind some randomly chosen acronyms – DMRT/DMIRT/DCDT – are visiting parishes to determine whether to terminate them. It seems that parishioners have caught wind of what is afoot, though:

First we have Indaba Resistance:

He then distributed five questions, and suggested we break into small groups and discuss the questions. A number of people objected to “more small-group stuff.” There was strong resistance to small-group discussion. (Comment: “We’re small-grouped to death and nothing ever comes of it.”) There was anger expressed by people who did not want to discuss “another bunch of irrelevant questions.”

Followed by Process Resistance:

The Rev. Michael Wimmer suggested we be given the opportunity to talk about our emotions and responses to the material that had been sent out to us. He suggested that “We ought to have been consulted about the process in which we are asked to participate.” Mrs. Doreen Huston said we have all been talking in small groups amongst ourselves, ever since this information was circulated, “but at least let us get those big things out in the open, first” so that once we have expressed our feelings, we can then go and talk about the process.

Garnished with Listening Process Resistance

Someone got up and asked that the DCDT listen to the complaints about what is going on in the diocese with regard to all these papers that tell us we aren’t doing enough. The general feeling was that we were not listened to.

And after a Forced Indaba session, Outright Rebellion:

When the small groups reported back, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction expressed about the DCDT process. Comments were made such as “We don’t trust anyone at the Synod Office any more. We’re sorry to say this, but we don’t trust the Bishop any more, either.”

I wonder what Prince Charles would make of it all.

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