jump to navigation

Canadian parish quits, but forgets to tell priest: CEN 10.24.08 p 8 October 24, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Secession.

A rural Manitoba congregation has quit the Anglican Church in Canada for ANiC—the breakaway group overseen by the Province of the Southern Cone—but neglected to tell its vicar they were going.

On Oct 15 the congregation of St. Bede’s Church in Kinosota, Manitoba held a parish meeting under the presidency of its nsm curate, the Rev. Jona Weitzel, and voted 29 to 1 to quit the Diocese of Brandon for ANiC.

However, the parish incumbent, the Rev. Robert Bettson told the Anglican Journal the secession vote was not lawful. “I am the rector of the parish, and was not consulted about the meeting, which the canons of the diocese require,” he said.

Mr. Bettson said he had dismissed the parish wardens and the diocese would assert its ownership of St Bede’s, for the continuing congregation. Built in 1842, St. Bede’s is one of the oldest Anglican parishes on the Canadian prairie.

“It is a great joy to welcome the people of St Bede’s into a faithfully Anglican Church family,” said Bishop Malcolm Harding, ANiC suffragan bishop and acting territorial archdeacon for the Prairie Provinces. “By aligning with the Anglican Network in Canada, they join a growing movement of Anglicans throughout North America seeking to remain in the mainstream of global and historic Anglicanism.

The rector of the five-church South Parkland parish, Mr. Bettson said he had prevented the defection of a second parish led by Ms. Weitzel, St. Michael and All Angels in McCreary, after he persuaded the parish wardens to cancel the secession vote.

With the acquisition of St Bede’s, ANiC now numbers 22 congregations spread across Canada under the metropolitan oversight of Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina.

In his charge to the Brandon synod on Oct 16, Bishop James Njegovan did not discuss the secession of St Bede’s but had sharp words for his predecessor, Bishop Harding, one of the leaders of ANiC.

He stated that “in Nov of 2007 my predecessor Malcolm Harding, our fifth bishop, voluntarily relinquished the exercise of ministry in the Anglican Church, meaning that for all intents and purposes he was ‘laicized’; that is he could no longer exercise any ordained ministerial function within the Church and could not use ministerial titles or wear clerical vesture. Following the ancient practice and polity of the church, this would apply not only within the Anglican Church of Canada, but also within all Churches in Full Communion with us, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and all the Churches of the Anglican Communion.”

Bishop Harding’s support of the breakaway Canadian parishes violated canon law and custom, Bishop Njegovan said, adding that “the promotion of schism within the Church has always been considered an even greater evil than heresy in that if flies directly in the face of the Scriptural call to unity.”

ANiC Bishop Donald Harvey disputed Bishop Njegovan’s assertions as “unkind” and “unprecedented.”

“Bishop Harding and I are full members of the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone,” Bishop Harvey wrote on Oct 19. “As such we have been authenticated as bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion and our Orders and Offices are accepted worldwide – with the unfortunate exception of some, but by no means all, dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Bishop Harding “deserves far better treatment and respect than has been afforded him by the Bishop of Brandon,” Bishop Harvey wrote, adding that “such unchristian behaviour is completely unacceptable.”

%d bloggers like this: