By Sue Careless
The man who was so well respected in the Anglican Church of Canada that he placed a close second to Andrew Hutchison in the primatial election of 2004 has become the third bishop to leave the ACC, following in the footsteps of fellow bishops Donald Harvey and Malcolm Harding.
On Jan. 23 Bishop Ronald Ferris, recently retired Bishop of Algoma (in Ontario), announced that effective immediately, he will minister as part of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) under Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Ferris spoke with his former Primate, Archbishop Hiltz personally about his decision, and described the phone conversation as “very friendly, courteous and affirming.”
“Bishop Ferris has been an unwavering advocate of orthodox Anglican and Christian beliefs and practices within the Anglican Church of Canada’s House of Bishops,” said Bishop Harvey. “He has always supported the stand taken by the Anglican Network in Canada, even when the vast majority of his peers opposed us. Bishop Ferris is a gifted man of God who is highly respected in his former diocese and throughout Canada.”
While Bishop Ferris will focus primarily on church planting in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, he will also assist Bishop Harvey in episcopal ministry.
Bishop Ferris, 63, took early retirement last September. Ferris had served as Bishop of Algoma since 1995 and had been Bishop of the Yukon from 1981 until 1995.
“After 28 wonderful years as Bishop, first in the Yukon and then in Algoma, I am delighted to embark on a new challenge – new church development,” said Bishop Ferris. “My decision to relinquish the licence I held for so many years within the Anglican Church of Canada was not taken quickly or lightly.”
“Church structures are intended to be a means to advance the Gospel, and not ends in themselves,” Ferris has written. “In some parts of Canada, dioceses are going it alone with new teachings and practices that contravene our common teachings as a communion.Where that is the case, it is inevitable that Anglicans will want a choice, a chance to exercise their conscience, and a way to stay fully connected with other Anglicanson the far side ofthe globe.It was after all an act of conscience by which the Reformation, and thus Anglicanism began.Anglicans do not see themselves as ‘breakaways,’ but as sincere Christians on a conscientious journey to find and live authentic Christian faith.
Bishop Ferris has consistently upheld the biblical view of marriage throughout his ministry. In 2002 he was one of 13 bishops who signed a statement of regret when the Diocese of New Westminster synod approved a motion asking Bishop Michael Ingham to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. Ferris also voted against motions allowing same-sex blessings at the church’s 2004 and 2007 General Synods.
A native of Toronto, Bishop Ferris and his wife Jan now live in Langley, B.C., close to their six children and five grandchildren. Of this new chapter in his life, Ferris said, “We’re enjoying it immensely and already finding it very fulfilling. It’s always scary to start off and do new things and start up new parishes but it’s also great fun.”