Anglican Network in Canada NEWS RELEASE
Parishes Grateful for Interim Court Order
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 29 February 2008
A judge in the Ontario Superior Court in Hamilton, Mr. Justice James Ramsay, has ruled today that, for the next couple of weeks, the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) parishes of St George’s Lowville (Milton, Ontario) and St Hilda’s (Oakville, Ontario) can retain exclusive use of their church facilities. There is another court hearing set for March 20, where the judge will be asked to determine a longer term interim arrangement while the bigger legal issue of who owns the church buildings is sorted out.
“We are deeply grateful to God for allowing us to maintain our ministries and care for our parishioners over the next few weeks without disruption”, said the Rev Canon Charlie Masters, rector of St George’s Lowville. “The last couple of weeks have been very trying. This judgment will be such an encouragement to our parishioners, some of whom were deeply distressed by last Sunday’s sharing arrangement.”
The Rev. Paul Charbonneau, rector of St. Hilda’s added, “We are most relieved that our many outreach services to the community, like our weekly food delivery to needy families and our free lunch program for the local high school students won’t be disrupted for this interim period.”
The court decision allows the ANiC parishes as well as the Diocese of Niagara to carry on their ministries as they always have without unnecessary disruption. A third ANiC parish, Good Shepherd in St. Catharines, was not part of the litigation but we trust the same decision will be applied.
Since ANiC launched its ecclesial structure last November under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, it has received two bishops (the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey and the Rt. Rev. Malcolm Harding) and 15 parishes. Parishes, like St George’s and St Hilda’s (and Church of the Good Shepherd in St. Catharines), that have elected to seek episcopal oversight from Bishop Harvey and ANiC are determined to stay biblically faithful and true to historic Anglican doctrine and teaching and within mainstream Anglicanism. While orthodox Anglicans are in a minority in Canada, they are in the majority worldwide. What is happening in Canada is part of a much bigger controversy in the global Anglican Communion.
Since 2003, the leaders of the global Anglican Communion have repeatedly asked the Anglican Church of Canada to return to faithful Anglican practice and teaching. They have also called upon the Anglican Church of Canada to provide appropriate spiritual care and oversight for parishes like these which remain faithful to established Anglican teaching.
“We sincerely regret that it was necessary to go to court for these congregations to maintain their ministries in the interim” said Cheryl Chang, a director of ANiC who is also a lawyer. “It is our hope and prayer that we can continue amicable discussions toward a resolution of all matters and prevent further court proceedings which hinder the ministry of all those involved.”
Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate (or leader) of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, has responded to the needs of biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans for spiritual protection and care on an emergency and interim basis – pending a resolution to the crisis in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Venables is well respected as an orthodox leader in the global Anglican Communion. He leads the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone which is one of 38 Provinces that make up the global Anglican Communion. It encompasses much of South America and includes Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay and Argentina.
Marilyn Jacobson, communications
Anglican Network in Canada
604 788-4222 cell
Diocese of Niagara
The Diocese of Niagara has 98 churches in the diocese, and several within the immediate vicinity of both St George’s Lowville and St Hilda’s.
February 24, 2008 church sharing experience
The Diocesan services at both St Hilda’s and St George’s Lowville on February 24th were well documented in the media. At St George’s only 10-20 of those attending the Diocesan service had any previous connection to the parish. Some of these had left the parish earlier to join other churches with which they are more theologically aligned. The situation at St Hilda’s was even more pronounced, with not one of those attending the diocesan service having any known previous connection to the parish.
St John’s Nassagaweya, with average attendance of fewer than 20 and facilities able to accommodate 80+,is located only 5 minutes from St. George’s. This church can easily accommodate the 10-20 former St George’s parishioners who desire care and worship with the diocese. There are three
The St George’s and St Hilda’s congregations have traditionally held three and two services respectively each Sunday morning to accommodate their sizable, growing congregations. Both churches also carry on vibrant community ministries throughout the week. Accommodating the diocesan service last Sunday created significant disruption and distress for parishioners.
St George’s Lowville (Milton)
St George’s Lowville has an average Sunday attendance of well over 200.
St John’s Nassagaweya, which is 5 minutes drive away from St George’s (10 km north), currently has an average Sunday attendance of fewer than 20 parishioners. St George’s and St John’s have had a historic relationship, with the Rev Canon Charlie Masters serving as rector of both St John’s and St George’s for over 27 years and with parishioners moving between the two congregations over the years.
Holding a service for the former St George’s parishioners at St John’s would not unduly disrupt an existing congregation. St. John’s currently has only one service, at 9:30 am, and could easily accommodate a second at 11:00 am. This would make better use of an underutilized church facility that can hold 80 to 100. This second service could even serve as an encouragement to the struggling group presently at St. John’s – which has been faced with possible closure for years.
St Hilda’s (Oakville)
For St Hilda’s, the diocese has even more options for holding a service for those in the immediate community who would like to attend an ACoC worship service. Within a five minute drive of St Hilda’s there are three church facilities currently operated by the ACoC, as well as excellent facilities at Appleby College where St Hilda’s founding members initially met before building their present facility and before the congregation grew to its present size of over 100 members.
The diocese of Niagara lists 98 parishes on its website, 22 within the region of Trafalgar – which covers the geographic area in which St George’s and St Hilda’s are located.