The Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey, retired Bishop of Eastern Labrador, announced Nov. 16 that he had quit the Canadian Church and will be “resuming full-time Episcopal ministry” on behalf of “biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans who are distressed and feel they no longer have a home in the Anglican Church of Canada.”
Bishop Harvey is moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), a group of traditionalist members of the Anglican Church of Canada aligned with the Anglican Communion Network in the U.S. His departure comes after the Canadian House of Bishops said it would launch a disciplinary investigation into complaints that he had participated in unauthorized episcopal acts in Canada and the U.S.
“This is a full-blown schism now within the Canadian church and it is a direct attack upon the catholicity of the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster in a recent interview with Anglican Journal, the church’s editorially independent newspaper. “It is one thing to hold differing opinions as many Anglicans obviously do on matters of sexual ethics. It’s quite another thing to establish alternative ecclesial bodies, which is schism.”
Bishop Harvey’s departure came one week before the annual conference of the ANiC, and may presage a wholesale defection of Canadian traditionalist congregations and clergy to the South American province. Bishop Ingham said he had written to Bishop Harvey prohibiting him from ordaining two deacons at a parish in his diocese next month. He has also written to the candidates and the clergy of four ANiC parishes in his diocese warning them of possible disciplinary action if they participate.
According to its website, ANiC’s national conference on Nov. 22-23 will “outline details of the option available to biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans who are in ‘serious theological dispute’ with the Anglican Church of Canada and want to be recognized as ‘fully Anglican’ and in the mainstream of global Anglicanism.”
In his letter to Archbishop Hiltz relinquishing his membership in the Canadian Church, Bishop Harvey said “this decision was not made lightly or for any other motive than the realization that I cannot continue to follow the obvious path that the Anglican Church of Canada is taking.”
On Nov. 17 the Council of General Synod said Bishop Harvey’s secession was unnecessary as an “appropriate provision for pastoral care and episcopal support” already existed.
“Interventions in the life of our church, such as ordinations or other episcopal acts by any other jurisdictions are inappropriate and unwelcome,” council members said. “In particular, we cannot recognize the legitimacy of recent actions by the Province of the Southern Cone in purporting to extend its jurisdiction beyond its own borders.”
The Canadian church’s governing body between meetings of General Synod called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to defend Canada, requesting that he “make clear that such actions are not a valid expression of Anglicanism and are in contravention of the ancient and continuing traditions of the Church.”