A judge in the Ontario Superior Court in Hamilton, Mr. Justice James Ramsay, has ruled today that, for the next couple of weeks, the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) parishes of St George’s Lowville (Milton, Ontario) and St Hilda’s (Oakville, Ontario) can retain exclusive use of their church facilities. There is another court hearing set for March 20, where the judge will be asked to determine a longer term interim arrangement while the bigger legal issue of who owns the church buildings is sorted out.
“We are deeply grateful to God for allowing us to maintain our ministries and care for our parishioners over the next few weeks without disruption”, said the Rev Canon Charlie Masters, rector of St George’s Lowville. “The last couple of weeks have been very trying. This judgment will be such an encouragement to our parishioners, some of whom were deeply distressed by last Sunday’s sharing arrangement.”
The Rev. Paul Charbonneau, rector of St. Hilda’s added, “We are most relieved that our many outreach services to the community, like our weekly food delivery to needy families and our free lunch program for the local high school students won’t be disrupted for this interim period.”
The court decision allows the ANiC parishes as well as the Diocese of Niagara to carry on their ministries as they always have without unnecessary disruption. A third ANiC parish, Good Shepherd in St. Catharines, was not part of the litigation but we trust the same decision will be applied.
Since ANiC launched its ecclesial structure last November under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, it has received two bishops (the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey and the Rt. Rev. Malcolm Harding) and 15 parishes. Parishes, like St George’s and St Hilda’s (and Church of the Good Shepherd in St. Catharines), that have elected to seek episcopal oversight from Bishop Harvey and ANiC are determined to stay biblically faithful and true to historic Anglican doctrine and teaching and within mainstream Anglicanism. While orthodox Anglicans are in a minority in Canada, they are in the majority worldwide. What is happening in Canada is part of a much bigger controversy in the global Anglican Communion.
Since 2003, the leaders of the global Anglican Communion have repeatedly asked the Anglican Church of Canada to return to faithful Anglican practice and teaching. They have also called upon the Anglican Church of Canada to provide appropriate spiritual care and oversight for parishes like these which remain faithful to established Anglican teaching.
“We sincerely regret that it was necessary to go to court for these congregations to maintain their ministries in the interim” said Cheryl Chang, a director of ANiC who is also a lawyer. “It is our hope and prayer that we can continue amicable discussions toward a resolution of all matters and prevent further court proceedings which hinder the ministry of all those involved.”
Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate (or leader) of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, has responded to the needs of biblically faithful Canadian Anglicans for spiritual protection and care on an emergency and interim basis ”“ pending a resolution to the crisis in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Venables is well respected as an orthodox leader in the global Anglican Communion. He leads the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone which is one of 38 Provinces that make up the global Anglican Communion. It encompasses much of South America and includes Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay and Argentina.