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Trial date set


The trial involving four Vancouver-area Anglican Network in Canada churches and the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of New Westminster will begin on May 25 in British Columbia Supreme Court. Three weeks have been set aside to hear the case. The parties were in communication in December in order to expedite the process. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner agreed to the proposal for an accelerated trial date. Much of the evidence will be submitted in affidavit form, and each side will limit the number of witnesses it will call in open court.


The four parishes – St. Matthew’s (Abbotsford), St Matthias and St Luke’s (Vancouver), St John’s Shaughnessy (Vancouver) and Church of the Good Shepherd (Vancouver) – had asked the courts in early September 2008 to clarify their trustees’ responsibilities in light of what they consider “hostile action” taken by the ACC diocese.


Michael Ingham, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, had informed the elected wardens and trustees of two parishes in late August that they had been dismissed and replaced by officials appointed by him. Bank accounts for the two churches were frozen causing administration difficulties for the congregations that had raised the funds in those accounts. The other two parishes expected similar actions to be taken against them as well.


All four parishes had voted overwhelmingly in February 2008 to disaffiliate with ACC and realign with ANiC as a result of a growing doctrinal disagreement. The four congregations have been in “serious theological dispute” with the Diocese since June 2002, when the Diocese unilaterally proceeded with same-sex blessings in defiance of most of the leaders of the global Anglican Communion and the beliefs of the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide that such action is contrary to Scripture.


“All churches in the Anglican Church of Canada are held “in trust,” and the fundamental question for the courts to decide is, ‘Who are the beneficiaries of that trust and the rightful owners of the property – the diocese or the congregation?’ says Cheryl Chang, ANiC Chancellor.


The parish trustees believe the parish properties are held in trust for the benefit of the current congregations who have paid for and maintained these properties, and who are continuing to practice and maintain traditional Anglican ministry in accordance with the founding principles of the ACC (contained in the Solemn Declaration 1893), and the current doctrine of the global Anglican Communion. The Diocese is asking the Court to rule that the clergy involved must return the buildings to diocesan control since they have left the Anglican Church of Canada.


“The trustees of all four parishes decided to act together in this matter since the issues in dispute are the same with respect to the trusts surrounding the church properties and assets, as well as the duties of the Trustees,” says Mrs. Chang.


As part of ANiC, the four congregations are under the Episcopal authority of Bishop Donald Harvey and the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone – one of the 38 Provinces in the global Anglican Communion. The ACC is also one of these 38 Provinces. –ANiC and New Westminster press releases


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