Diocese of Caledonia: Let’s Not Forget Jake Worley 
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 08:50PM
TAP

Jake Worley (Supplied Photo)

Comment By Sharon Dewey Hetke

National Director of the Anglican Communion Alliance

A STORY THAT raised tensions in the Anglican Church of Canada last year has not died away, and in fact continues to simmer beneath the surface as we move towards  General Synod 2019. The blocking of the Rev. Jacob Worley’s consecration in May 2017, after his being elected bishop of the Diocese of Caledonia, and his subsequent firing as priest in November continue to trouble many in our Church who do not think that a sense of fairness and proportionality was evident in these decisions. Worley’s consecration was blocked in a majority decision of the BC & Yukon House of Bishops; he was later fired by the Most Rev. John Privett, Archbishop of BC & Yukon.

The majority justified their decision saying that Worley, who had planted a church within the boundaries of The Episcopal Church’s  Diocese of the Rio Grande (in New Mexico) but under the authority of the Anglican Mission in America (a break-away group), held and continued to hold a view about those actions that was contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.  Worley told TAP that he was unable to refute his past actions, as he believed the Holy Spirit had done great work in the lives of those to whom he ministered in the church plant. He also explained the context of his decision, made at a time when, he says, “Some of us [orthodox clergy] were losing our jobs, some of us were just having a major amount of persecution and pressure put upon us.”

It is also important to note that during the investigation of Worley (which was in stark contrast to the usual treatment of bishops-elect), he affirmed the oaths of our Church which he had taken, and clearly articulated his intention to honour them, never indicating an intention to take Caledonia out of the ACC.

While the story seemed to fade over December and January, in early spring several groups again asked questions directly of the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada.

On March 4, a petition, “Justice for Jake,” was launched by the Rev. Canon George Eves of the Diocese of Fredericton, and was circulated by the Anglican Communion Alliance.  The petition, which can be found at www.anglicanmoment.wordpress.com, expresses “deep embarrassment” at the treatment of Worley, questions the apparent double standard exposed by this “sad episode” and calls upon Primate Fred Hiltz to offer a public explanation. Eves has urged every concerned Anglican to sign this Petition, to write to the Primate and to contribute to a “love offering” for the Worley family. 

And then on April 14, a letter asking specific questions of Hiltz, National Chancellor David Jones, Privett and Province of BC & Yukon Chancellor Douglas MacAdams was published on ACA’s website and Facebook page. The letter, dated Feb. 16, was also copied to all members of the BC & Yukon House of Bishops. 

The letter questions the way in which Worley and his family were treated, but focuses on an apparent double standard, specifically asking Privett and MacAdams about the lack of investigation and discipline in the cases of other recent consecrations in their  Province.

Given the participation of National Church officials in the Worley situation the letter also notes: “In recent years, how many elected and consecrated bishops have broken with the stated teaching of the Anglican Church in one way or another? It seems that if someone’s actions are in line with ‘the direction the church is going,’ then it doesn’t matter if they break the church’s law. If they are thought to be moving in the ‘wrong direction,’ then discipline is applied.”

The one and only response received was made public on April 16. In his response, Privett questions the ACA’s  characterization of the situation Worley faced with Immigration Canada.

Since the letter’s publication, we have learned that the commonly held understanding in the Diocese of Caledonia was that if an American priest lost his job, he would have 10 days from the last day of work to leave the country, which, in Worley’s case, would have been less than 4 weeks from the time of his notice.  After his firing, Worley did learn that he could have stayed longer, perhaps up to a year, on a visitor’s pass.  However, unsure of how long his family would be able to stay, and being jobless and far from extended family, he opted to continue the moving process. 

Privett also gave an assurance that decisions about Worley were not based on his conservative theological positions, saying that “In their decision, the Bishops did not consider the Rev. Mr. Worley’s Doctrine, but did identify his current views on particular matters of Discipline to be the basis for their objection.”

The Abp. did not address the varying treatment of episcopal candidates in the Province of BC & Yukon. As for the basis being disciplinary rather than doctrinal, indeed we would continue to ask why a view about a jurisdictional question was treated with such seriousness, while issues of doctrine seem not to be. Looked at another way, issues of doctrine and discipline are often intertwined, and the common thread seems to be uneven treatment.  Indeed, as our letter points out: “Mr. Worley was rejected as a candidate for bishop based on views he held, whereas some other recently consecrated bishops, by allowing same-sex blessings and even marriage, actually have contravened the lawful practice of the Anglican Church of Canada.” 

 

Approaching General Synod 2019

Furthermore, whether on a matter of discipline or doctrine, it is not disputed that Worley was blocked due to a “view” he held (in his case, about a past action), and not on that action itself.  This is a crucial point.  As we approach General Synod 2019, we are deeply concerned about how those holding the traditional position on marriage may be treated subsequent to a possible change to the Marriage Canon. Will they even be able to take the “oaths and subscriptions” required for ordination to the priesthood, or consecration to the episcopacy, if they hold a “view” that would now be contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada?

The Anglican Communion Alliance’s main mission is to deepen biblical faith in the Anglican Church of Canada.  As such, we are opposed to any revision of the Marriage Canon to allow for same-sex marriage, as we believe that each of us is called to submit to God’s authority, and to his will as revealed in Holy Scripture.  In the event that the Canon is changed, we are also concerned that there be provision for those who will continue to submit to biblical teaching on marriage, and we are pleased to see that the Primate has recently indicated an openness to some kind of formal provisions. 

In all of this, we have not lost sight of the impact of these events on the Worley family.  Following his firing in November, The Anglican Planet learned that he was offered a position in another Canadian diocese.  However, due to personal circumstances, he was not able to accept that position.  The Worley family is now living in Arizona with a family member, and Jake has not yet secured employment.  In April, he was finally able to pick up the family’s belongings in Smithers. (Due to weather and treacherous roads, their belongings had to be left in BC upon their departure.)   TAP

Sharon Dewey Hetke is the National Director of the Anglican Communion Alliance, and Assistant Editor with The Anglican Planet

Article originally appeared on The Anglican Planet (http://anglicanplanet.net/).
See website for complete article licensing information.