Thursday, May 10, 2007


I have an apology to make. First, for those who may not be familiar with the way in which the Anglican Church governs itself, it uses church laws called ‘canons’. Only a few people out of the entire Anglican population get to vote on these laws. In May of 1998 the Anglican Church passed a law which according to the Anglican Journal allows priests to be “fired by their bishops and have their licences revoked for any reason and can’t appeal.” The Rev. Gary Kilgore is quoted by the Anglican Journal as saying: Not only are you being fired from a parish, but by the removal of your license, it’s the equivalent of being disbarred.”

Sadly, some clergy eligible to vote for this law actually voted in favour of it. “I don’t understand why the clergy voted for it,” Mr. Irvine told the Anglican Journal. “It is unfortunate that the discussion follows the synod. Had it preceded the synod, possibly clergy delegates would have defeated the canon.”

Ronald Stevenson was the chancellor of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada and he moved the adoption of Canon 17 at synod. According to the Journal he said that new rules were needed. “Another objective was to create a process for resolving disputes within the church rather than subject clergy, bishops, parishes and dioceses to expensive wrong-dismissal litigation.”

Now, back to the apology I need to make. I’m afraid that if I had been in a position to vote in favour of Canon 17 I probably would have. You see back then I felt that I was part of the ‘team’. I believed that all you needed to do was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind soul and strength and your neighbour as yourself and keep your nose clean, well then you had nothing to worry about. I was both wrong and naive. You see I am an abused clergy who has been the victim of this unfair law.

Back in November 2004 I sent a 27 page document of my story and some suggestions on how the application of Canon 17 could be improved to every active bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada for whom I had an email address. Two years and five months later I am sad to say that not one bishop has responded to my experiences nor to any of the suggestions I made regarding the application of Canon 17.

According to press reports the Bishop who withdrew my license a year later and for apparently different reasons walked into an executive meeting of our diocese, read a letter of resignation and then left the meeting without fulfilling his obligation as chairperson. Although he had resigned he remained in office until a satisfactory settlement was reached between him and the Diocese. I hope people will excuse me for thinking that a different standard was applied to this Bishop than I was subjected to.

Archbishop Clarke I believed was involved in negotiating a settlement with our former Bishop as he was Metropolitan Bishop for our region. He also expressed his desire in the church press to help heal some of the hurts which had occurred over the past year or so. I believe he did speak with many people. Unfortunately I am unaware that he took any initiative to meet with the two clergy whose parishes were closed by the former bishop he negotiated a settlement with and his executive. I don’t believe either of those clergy received any monetary severance. As for me, Archbishop Clarke took no initiative to contact me personally on his many trips to Calgary even though I had a letter from the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada saying that I would hear from him in the near future.

As I believe that at least one church canon (law) was broken by the Primate as well as Archbishop Clarke I again tried to work within the Church legal system. On several occasions I asked Archbishop Clarke for the name of his Chancellor so that I could file a charge before the courts for their decision. In spite of repeated requests Archbishop Clarke never provided me with the Chancellor’s name and address. At the national level, I sent a registered letter to the national chancellor Ronald Stevenson (the same man who moved Canon 17 at the synod where it was approved) asking him: “I seek guidance from you as Chancellor for General Synod on how to present a charge of ecclesiastical misconduct against the Primate and Archbishop Clarke. To whom should the charges be addressed and could you provide me with their names and addresses.”

You will note that I did not ask the Chancellor to represent me. Basically I only asked for enough information to access the church judicial process on my own. I am pleased to advise that Chancellor Stevenson did provide me with the name and address that Archbishop Clarke did not provide. However I did not find the rest of Mr. Stevenson’s comments as helpful. Canon 17 makes sure I did not have access to the civil legal system but as I was to find out accessing the church court would be just as difficult. In his letter to me the Chancellor did not answer my question. Instead he wrote: “You will appreciate that, as legal adviser to the Primate, it is not my role to give advice as to how one might present a charge of ‘ecclesiastical misconduct’ against either the Primate or the Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land.”

There you have it my friends, justice Anglican style. As a cradle Anglican I always thought that as a Christian community we were better than that.

If the church has caused you to loose your faith, just remember that God is not a human institution whether it is a church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Please be in touch if you need a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on.

One positive thing I have discovered in this part of my journey is that my ministry was given to me by the God of all and not some unjust institution incapable of admiting it was wrong and working to bring about the healing it publically claims it stands for.

Thanks be to God.

God"s love is for all creation

God"s love is for all creation
God has many names