(Photo: Karen Stiller)
(Staff) REV. DR. BRENT STILLER, 48, of Port Perry, Ont., is the latest priest from the Toronto Diocese to relinquish his licence with the Anglican Church of Canada and plant a new congregation within the Anglican Network of Canada.
Stiller resigned as rector of the Church of the Ascension in Port Perry in late August, citing the controversial Pastoral Guidelines for the Blessing of Same-Gender Commitments issued in November 2010 by Archbishop Colin Johnson as the “tip of the iceberg.”
“The ACC is heading in a direction that I can no longer support in the context in which I am called to be faithful to Christ’s Church,” Stiller told the Anglican Planet. “There is a growing and seemingly deliberate move to dumb down its Christology. Those who claim that the nature and centrality of Christ are secondary to the gospel are missing the point of the good news.”
Stiller continued, “The decision to call sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage ‘holy’ is a shift that has created pain and confusion for many, but it’s certainly not the only cause for concern. Seeing ourselves as the primary reference over and against the Church’s biblical teaching is not insignificant.”
The newly planted congregation – attracting on average of 80 worshippers each week – will meet for the foreseeable future at a local elementary school just blocks away from the Church of the Ascension. Port Perry lies on the southern shore of Lake Scugog, about 75 km north-east of Toronto.
“I am thankful that Anglicans can choose to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, and still be Anglican. That is what I am choosing to do, along with many other Canadians,” explained Stiller. “I see this as a healthy realignment, and I actually feel quite free. Others may be called to a different response. I believe this is what I was called to do.”
Stiller had served in the Diocese of Saskatchewan, in Halifax, and at St. Paul’s Bloor St. before moving to Port Perry in 2002.
The Rev. Bruce McCallum, 63, who had served as associate at the Church of the Ascension, has also relinquished his licence with the ACC, and along with Stiller is now licenced with ANIC and is a partner in the new church plant. McCallum served the Anglican Church of Canada for 39 years, and was a Canon at the time of his resignation.
“I felt my very soul was being compromised by the direction of the ACC where the whole doctrine of salvation is up for grabs,” says McCallum. “I am excited to be part of a focused gospel ministry and church plant.”
Other priests who have left the Diocese of Toronto to serve ANiC churches include: Barbara Richardson (West Toronto) in 2008, and Robin Guiness (North Toronto), Andy Leroux (Scarborough) and Brian McVitty (Barrie) in 2011. TAP