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Vancouver Island parish leaves ACC

The Diocese of British Columbia (based on Vancouver Island) has refused to negotiate with the congregation of St Mary’s Nanoose Bay despite the specific request issued from the recent Primates’ Meeting in Egypt that mediation be pursued to resolve disputes. On Feb. 8 the congregation of St Mary’s voted overwhelmingly to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and realign with the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). The rector, the Rev’d Guy Bellerby, had sought an amicable arrangement that would enable the congregation to remain in the church building pending a mediated process.

However, the people of St Mary’s have been ordered by the bishop’s commissary, Bruce Bryant-Scott, to vacate their building. The congregation will meet for worship temporarily in a local library. It has also chosen a new name: Christ Church (Oceanside). While not abandoning their claim to the church building at this time, the current interim order in the St. Mary’s Metchosin case has set the precedent for parishes in the B.C. diocese who realign with ANiC. In that case, the court granted the diocese use of the building until a trial takes place in respect of the trust claims on the property.

A trial is already set for May 25 for four Vancouver-area ANiC churches. All church properties are held “in trust” and the Vancouver trial will answer the question “in trust for whom?”

“It will set a precedent for all the church properties in dispute,” said Cheryl Chang, Chancellor for ANiC. “The ACC dioceses have plenty of empty churches they can use until this issue is resolved in the courts, so why evict a congregation when they may well be entitled to get back in after the trial? Proceeding with litigation on several fronts before the precedent is set wastes everyone’s money, but the ACC is unwilling to wait for the precedent and is spending vast amounts of money pursuing litigation in several dioceses in the hope of discouraging further votes.”

Christ Church (Oceanside) is the 27th parish and the 15th former ACC parish to join ANiC. It attracts both retirees and young families and has an average Sunday attendance of 110.


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