Katharine Jefferts Schori to speak at Diocese of BC Cathedral

Katharine Jefferts Schori spent much of her time as Presiding Bishop of TEC embroiled in lawsuits against ACNA parishes and dioceses who were trying to hang on to their buildings. I met her in 2010 at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and asked how a Christian denomination could justify launching so many lawsuits. Her response was that she had a “fiduciary responsibility towards TEC”. The implication that, in her view, it was her most important responsibility, was not lost on me.

Having so much experience in promoting harmony and good-will must have been what prompted the Bishop of BC, Logan McMenamie to invite Jefferts Schori to the Diocese to impart her timeless wisdom – distilled over many years of acrimonious litigation – about Truth and Reconciliation.

I’m not sure if Logan is paying her or not, but I can only assume she is not neglecting her fiduciary responsibility to herself.

From here:

Truth and reconciliation is a response to colonialism but for individuals it’s a chance to enlarge our viewpoints by hearing experiences of others, a pioneering clergywoman says.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., the first woman to be elected a primate in the worldwide Anglican Church, said truth and reconciliation at its most basic, is about listening and respect.

“It’s really an anti-colonialism response,” said Jefferts Schori in a telephone interview from her home in Nevada.

“It encourages people to hear each other’s stories and perspectives and to respect their differences rather than imposing your own view.”

Jefferts Schori is speaking Thursday at the University of Victoria and will be at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria for a forum on Sunday.

Jefferts Schori was American Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop from 2006 to 2015. She has served as Bishop of Nevada and is currently a visiting professor at Church Divinity of the Pacific.

She has degrees in biology and a PhD in oceanography, serves on the Earth and Life Studies board of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and was a member the Council on Neighborhood and Faith-Based Partnerships when Barack Obama was president.

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the Diocese of British Columbia, said Jefferts Schori has demonstrated incredible leadership in the church and community.

“It wasn’t easy for her with some of the other primates throughout the world,” McMenamie said.

“But she has always demonstrated amazing leadership, and stood tall during some very difficult times in the life of the [Anglican] communion.”

Jefferts Schori said: “A founding principle of Anglicanism is the Gospel, the faith, is supposed to grow and develop in unique ways in different contexts.

But Anglicans haven’t always thought so, she said. In particular, those working as colonial missionaries thought only their views and contexts were correct.

“But it’s core to what it means to be an Anglican today,” she said.

“[Faith] takes different shapes in different contexts.”

For example, she said the U.S. Anglican community has experienced a new creative experience listening to how the Christian Gospels have found new contexts in indigenous societies.

“You begin to develop a more creative community as a result,” Jefferts Schori said.

“There is an ability to see truth in different contexts and find a larger picture than any one individual can find on their own.”

Diocese of B.C. to proceed with same-sex marriages

Bishop Logan McMenamie has stated that he will not wait for the next vote on the marriage canon change in 2019 but will start performing same-sex marriages immediately.

The Diocese of BC has joined the growing number of dioceses for whom synod voting signifies little more than empty gestures emanating from the meaningless gatherings of a decaying organisation.

The other dioceses that are ignoring the synod processes include: Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Huron, Rupert’s Land. There are probably others. Soon, it will quicker to list dioceses that are not performing same-sex marriages.

From here (page 2):

After receiving the thoughts of the clergy of the diocese the Bishop has decided to move forward with the marriage of same sex couples in the Diocese. He will permit this on a case by case basis after conversation with the clergy person who will officiate at the marriage. He told the members of council that principle takes precedence over process in this issue. He went on to say that unity is not agreement but rather the willingness to work together and to walk together.

Diocese of BC has a Pride Eucharist

Christ Church Cathedral had a Eucharist to celebrate the “rich diversity of sexual and gender identity” – because that, after all, is what Christianity has really always been about – and the “inclusion, welcome and celebration for all people” – except for the recalcitrant remnant who are still not convinced that God is subject to the cultural whimsy of the moment.

From here:

This week, Pride week, the Anglican Churches in the Diocese of British Columbia have been taking an active part in celebrating the rich diversity of sexual and gender identity which is so much a part of the Pride ethos.  On Tuesday 5th July there was held, in Christ Church Cathedral on Quadra, a Pride Eucharist – where candles were lit in hope of inclusion, welcome and celebration for all people.

Anglican church converts to Buddhism

The Anglican Church of Canada hasn’t converted to Buddhism in its entirety – not yet, at least, and not that it would make much difference – just St. Aidan’s in Kelowna, BC.

From here:

Anglican church to be reincarnated as Buddhist cultural centre

KELOWNA – St. Aidans church, a small heritage building in Rutland, should soon see new life under an adaptive reuse agreement with the Okanagan Buddhist Cultural Society.

Staff are recommending three parcels near Mugford and Rutland Road North be rezoned and consolidated, then sold to the society along with a memorandum of understanding about the church’s preservation.

Plans are to relocate the historic Anglican church, opened in 1933, to the centre of the consolidated site where it will be restored under a heritage revitalization agreement with the city. The society will build a new entranceway, church hall and develop the old church as a cultural centre.

Built by volunteer labour on donated land, the original church was designed by Enoch Mugford, superintendent of the Black Mountain Irrigation District and local developer Hector Maranda.

Creeping Congregationalism in the Diocese of BC

In an interview, the new bishop of the Diocese of BC, Logan McMenamie, mentions that the diocese is suffering from negativity and creeping congregationalism. Although the latter sounds a little like a skin disease, it is actually an understandable response to the diocese taking parish buildings from congregations that paid for and maintained them and selling them for its own gain.

Logan McMenamieFrom here (page 5):

We will continue to have some challenges to face but I feel they can be addressed. Some of the things the clergy talked about were lone ranger parishes, creeping congregationalism and negativity. I believe we can turn this around in a positive way and see these as opportunities for growth.

The Diocese of B.C. has elected a new bishop

From here:

The Very Rev. Dr. Logan McMenamie, Dean of Columbia, and rector of Christ Church Cathedral has been elected as the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia.

It goes without saying that the Very Rev. Dr. Logan McMenamie is a liberal; even more liberal than his predecessor, James Cowan.

He is presently rector of Christ Church Cathedral and in March of 2013 began to perform same sex blessings in the cathedral:

The congregation at Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral voted overwhelmingly last week to allow same-sex blessings in the church, more than a decade after Vancouver-area Anglican churches did the same.

“The Anglican church has been talking about this for more than 30 years,” Rev. Logan McMenamie says.

“In some ways it’s disabled us, but it’s an important decision. It’s really a justice issue.”

McMenamie reckons that his parish has lost members because it has been too slow in allowing same sex blessings – that, after all, is what Canadian Anglicans have been clamouring for:

McMenamie laments the parish members he has lost because of the slow changes, but said more progress will be made at upcoming diocese gatherings.

He worries that the diocese he is about to inherit is falling apart, due, he believes, to the insufficiently enthusiastic application of blessing that which the Bible says should not be blessed:

“I know the issues in this diocese and the challenges we face,” he said, citing finances, closing parishes and a lack of young people.

When not pre-occupied with blessing same sex marriages, he concerns himself with other pressing matters such as the environment, homelessness and “spiritual paths” – whatever they are:

He said he has faith in the gifts and skills of the church community to address important issues such as the environment, a focus on relationships with First Peoples, homelessness and spiritual paths.

His agenda appears quite uncontaminated by quaint, outdated and, frankly, embarrassing concepts for those on “spiritual paths”, such as: man is born a sinner, is separated from God by his sin, his only remedy being the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, without which he is destined for hell – the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Diocese of BC: selling churches

From here:

Nearly four years ago, the Anglican Diocese of B.C. recommended closing 11 churches across Greater Victoria, and selling the property in a bid to reduce debt and reinvigorate itself in the face of shrinking congregations.

Out of the 11, three have sold and two are leased by other organizations. The remainder are open for business as Anglican churches, and no longer face imminent closure, largely by strokes of luck.

“They were put all on the market at once, the ones people wanted to buy immediately are the only reason (others remain),” said Rev. Chris Parsons, speaking for the diocese. “We only wanted to sell a certain amount and re-evaluate what was needed.”

Properties like St. Saviour in Vic West and St. Martin in the Fields in Saanich sold, the former to a dance company and the latter to an evangelical denomination.

St. Columba in Saanich’s Strawberry Vale and All Saints in View Royal have closed as Anglican churches and the space is leased out (St. Alban’s had sold in 2009, prior to the mass sale).

Others once on the block – St. David by the Sea in Cordova Bay, St. Peter’s in Lakehill, St. Philip and St. Mary in Oak Bay and St. Mary in Metchosin – survived by the grace of not being attractive to other organizations or property developers.

[….]

A steadily declining congregational base, the basis for church closures and sales, and internal debates on issues such as same sex marriage still remain a problems for the Anglican Church.

A report from the diocese estimated that in 2009 barely one per cent of B.C. residents identify as Anglican. St. David sees about 40 parishioners on Saturdays and Sundays, and St. Peter’s sees about 60 people between two Sunday services.

St. Mary in Metchosin which is “not … attractive to other organizations or property developers” once housed a flourishing congregation that left the diocese to join ANiC.

The fact that an evangelical denomination bought one of the buildings as, presumably, part of their growth contains a message that will probably be lost on the Diocese of BC.

Bishops Ingham and Cowan gather at the totem pole

The two bishops were celebrating the transfer of a parish from the Diocese of New Westminster to the Diocese of B.C. Out of the frying pan into the fire.

11-09-2013 4-16-52 PM

Why stand at the foot of a totem pole rather that at the foot of a cross you might be wondering: the cross would be too Christian.

In reading about totem poles, we are repeatedly reminded that they have no religious significance – just like Anglican bishops – and that each animal on the pole may  represent an ancestor; Aboriginals also thought that the totem pole animals could transform themselves into men. All beliefs that, one presumes, bishops Ingham and Cowan think fit comfortably into Canadian Anglicanism.

From here (page 4):

Soon a gathering of people circled around the totem pole that sits in harmony beside St George church. The visitors were warmly welcomed with singing and drumming. Mike Willie spoke of the long history of his people, the totem and the church. Bishop Ingham welcomed everyone into the church for worship and a time of blessing the restored church.

The Diocese of BC conducts its first same-sex blessing

Bishop James Cowan performed the first same-sex blessing in the Diocese of BC on June 1. As the article below notes, everyone processed into the church immediately following the civil wedding: the distinction between marrying and blessing that dioceses who perform same-sex blessings were so keen to make has, for all practical purposes, already vanished.

I notice that “Draw the circle wide, Draw it wider still” has made a comeback –”a step in drawing wider a circle of welcoming inclusiveness which needs to be drawn wider still.” Or to put it another way: you can’t hide; no matter how fast you run, we are coming for you and, when we find you, you will be included.

SS-blessingIt was a wonderful, exciting, joyous and emotional service which took place in the Church of St. John the Divine, Victoria, on Saturday June 1.

To the magnificent sounds of Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s Marche Triomphale from St. John’s Casavant organ, the large community of parishioners, family and friends processed into the church immediately following the civil wedding of Paul Gillan and Michael King in the church garden.

In a grace-filled landmark service of praise and thanksgiving, Bishop James Cowan conducted the first Blessing of a Same Sex Union to occur in the Diocese of British Columbia.

In his brief homily, the bishop noted the significance of this event in the Anglican church. Referring to the words “Draw the circle wide, Draw it wider still.” from the just-sung hymn “Draw the Circle Wide” (CP 418), Bishop James acknowledged that this service marked but a step in drawing wider a circle of welcoming inclusiveness which needs to be drawn wider still. He paid tribute to the long struggle for equality advanced at many Synods over the years by the parishioners of St. John’s and other churches in the diocese. In this service which included choral Eucharist, Bishop James spoke of God’s covenant with us.

As we gathered together to witness and bless the public commitment of Paul and Michael to each other, the bishop reminded us that all our covenants with family and friends are signs of God’s faithfulness and love, living expressions of God’s promises to us and sources of hope to others.

With joy in our hearts, we celebrated the covenant between Paul and Michael, praying that the life they share will reflect the love of God for the whole world. We also pray that this is just a beginning.

Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral to begin same-sex blessings

From here:

The congregation at Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral voted overwhelmingly last week to allow same-sex blessings in the church, more than a decade after Vancouver-area Anglican churches did the same.

“The Anglican church has been talking about this for more than 30 years,” Rev. Logan McMenamie says.

[….]

McMenamie laments the parish members he has lost because of the slow changes, but said more progress will be made at upcoming diocese gatherings.

Don’t worry about the members you have lost, Rev. Logan McMenamie. Now you are offering same-sex blessings, rejoice in the prospect of the hitherto reluctant hordes that will soon queue outside your doors every Sunday, eager to worship before the altar of your equality deities.

Then again, it may work out more like those who have gone before you in pioneering compulsive inclusion – like the Dioceses of New Westminster and Niagara: you could find yourself scrambling to close dozens of empty churches every year.