Bishops distressed by Bill 62

When I applied for a visa to visit China, before my photograph was taken I had to remove my glasses because they are photosensitive and were darkened from being in bright light. My wife had to make sure her ears were not obscured by her hair: the Chinese don’t want unidentified ears entering their country.

When we arrived in China, bleary-eyed and crotchety, we were photographed again by Chinese immigration. None of this was particularly distressing, although, admittedly, wearing glasses is more of a practical consideration than a religious observance.

Quebec’s Bill 62 requires people to uncover their faces while giving and receiving state services. Clearly, this affects niqab wearing Muslim women – or men, I suppose since gender is now fluid – more than anyone else. Showing one’s face to identify oneself before receiving a state service doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly unreasonable requirement. But it has distressed some Anglican bishops whose priority, having largely abandoned Christianity, is now one of defending Islam; when not marrying people of the same sex to each other, that is.

Here is the wail of distress by our Anglislamic bishops:

As leaders of minority faith communities in Quebec we feel compelled to express our deep distress at the manner in which the religious neutrality law passed by the National Assembly implicitly targets another minority religious group in this province.

Although veiled as a question of identification and security , Bill 62’s provisions regarding face coverings will most directly impact a small minority of Muslim women in Quebec, whose freedom to express their religious beliefs is enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For Christians, these human rights are grounded in the dignity accorded each human being by virtue of having been made in the image and likeness of their Creator.

The January 29 shooting massacre at Quebec City’s Grand Mosque — and other acts of violence before and since — demonstrate that our Muslim neighbours live in a climate of suspicion and fear that threatens their safety. Bill 62 helps foster that climate at a time when we are turning to our governments and public institutions to protect vulnerable minorities in our midst.

We recognize and support the desire for Quebec to be a secular society. However, to be secular means to be pluralistic, allowing freedom of belief both in one’s private and public life. The provisions of Bill 62, however they are applied, unnecessarily put that fundamental freedom —  and potentially people’s security — at risk.

We invite our elected leaders, and all Quebecers, to join us in trying to foster a safe and welcoming environment for all who make Quebec their home, whatever their culture or religion.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, Bishop of Montreal, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers, Bishop of Quebec, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Michael Pryse, Bishop of the Eastern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Diocese of Montreal evicts witches from rectory

As I mentioned here, a Diocese of Montreal parish is renting space in its rectory to witches. The original article, published in a pagan news site, The Wild Hunt, was taken down but has now been reinstated.

The diocese has now asked the two witches to leave the rectory belonging to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, a parish which declares itself to be a welcoming, inclusive church. This can only mean that, even in Canadian Anglicanism, there is such a thing as too much inclusion. This is from the original article:

It is uncommon for Pagan groups to be operating out of an Anglican church facility, which begs the question: how are the Pagans and Anglicans getting along as neighbours?

Jory cannot say enough about how accommodating and cooperative the relationship has been. “They are fine with us doing our Pagan stuff indoors, they just say please don’t do rituals outside, because not everybody will understand. So, that’s our respect for them, we are on their ground.”

This relationship has provided opportunity for both sides to work together on interfaith projects. “They do a bunch of interfaith stuff. They wanted to do something that would help build community,” Jory explains.

Here is the update:

MONTREAL —  On Jan. 11, T. Scarlet Jory, co-founder of Crescent Moon School of Magic and Paganism, announced that The Rectory would be closing down as of February 2017. “This past Friday, January 6, 2017, we were given notice that we will need to leave our stay at the Rectory, due to some very awful miscommunications that led to a lot of anger on the part of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.”

On Jan 5., TWH reported on a story about the birth of The Rectory, a new facility serving the Montreal Pagan community. According to the founders, Robyn and T. Scarlet Jory, the space was imagined as a place of inclusivity for a very diverse Pagan world, as a well as a proponent of interfaith community support. They had a successful soft opening in the fall, and were preparing for the full launch in January. What happened?

The trouble began after the TWH article was published and members of the greater Anglican community alerted the Diocese to the activities going on in the church. The Diocese and the church were under the impression that the space was being rented for a tutoring program, and neither organization knew of The Rectory founders’ full plans. After the Diocese learned about the scope of programming through internet reports, it immediately contacted the Reverend, who then called Robyn and Jory. In response, the two women asked us to temporarily remove our article in order to allow them to ascertain what exactly was happening. We agreed to do so, but the information was already public. Within hours, the founders had to remove all references to The Rectory in social media, as well as take down the new Rectory website.

In her Jan. 11 announcement Jory states that, after consideration, the Diocese asked them to leave, but it was not the church’s decision. Jory added, “We would like to be clear that the matter of our leaving is not a case of Christians vs Pagans. It is a matter of human error. […]. Rather than fight to stay where we are not welcome, we would like to move forward peacefully, with dignity, and respect for our present hosts who have been perfectly lovely with us to this point.”  Robyn agreed, saying that they are not blaming anyone for what has happened and that they are trying to just move forward.

Our article is available again, and we are currently in touch with the founders to learn more specifically where and how the communication broke down, as well as where the two women are going from here. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you their candid responses and what they have learned from this incident.

And there is yet more information here. One comment in particular from the witch who contacted me caught my eye. The rector of the church is her mother-in-law and knows her daughter-in-law is a “Pagan and deeply spiritual.” The rector ought to know better – much better: being “deeply spiritual” can easily be a recipe for disaster if the spirits in question are less than wholesome. But, as is so often the case with watered down Anglicanism, spirituality seems to have replaced truth.

We spoke with founders T. Scarlet Jory and Robyn about what happened in order to clarify the situation.

“Prior to [publication of The Wild Hunt article], there was nothing to suggest that we needed to hide who and what we were. We were not concerned about the diocese finding out that we were renting the rectory space,” said Robyn, who is co-founder and the daughter-in-law of the church’s reverend.

The women originally located the available church space through this family connection, and Robyn added that her mother-in-law is open-minded and knows that she and Jory “are Pagan and deeply spiritual.” However, the reverend reportedly did not know the full plans for the rectory space, nor did the diocese.

Robyn explained, “When we signed our rental agreement with the church, to rent space within their rectory, it was with the understanding that we were opening and running a tutoring centre, and that we would also run some workshops on the side.”

When asked why they didn’t reveal the full scope of the project from the get-go, she said, “We didn’t know that things would take the direction that they did, or that the workshops and community events would become such a focus for us, until suddenly there was no tutoring happening, but lots of very excited Pagans and others who were interested in coming out.”

As we noted yesterday, it was TWH article, which is published and available unedited, that led to confusion among the organizations involved. Members read our article and alerted the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, who reportedly became angry and immediately contacted the church.

The reverend, who was at the time on her way to India, contacted Robyn and Jory about the news. The very next day, the women contacted us about misinformation and the anger coming from the church community. Additionally, Robyn reported to an Anglican blog site that we had taken quotes “out of context,” reiterating that the space was only for tutoring. She said:

“Yes, I am a witch by faith, and yes, I rent an office space at the Rectory. What I do there is tutoring, and offer some small spiritual services to a small group of people. We are an interfaith group. The Church itself is Anglican, and friendly, but not involved in my personal activities, or that of my business partner Scarlet. Further, a lot of what Scarlet is quoted as saying in the original article, was taken out of context from a conversation between her and the writer.”

When we recently asked exactly what was out of context and wrong in our report, Robyn simply said, “That is difficult to answer. I think Scarlet said some things casually that she did not realize would go on the record. She was also distracted and caring for her baby while doing the interview, which I was also told.”

Diocese of Montreal rents rectory to witch

Since publishing this article, I received an email from the person renting the rectory. It says, in part:

Yes, I am a witch by faith, and yes, I rent an office space at the Rectory. What I do there is tutoring, and offer some small spiritual services to a small group of people. We are an interfaith group. The Church itself is Anglican, and friendly, but not involved in my personal activities, or that of my business partner Scarlet. Further, a lot of what Scarlet is quoted as saying in the original article, was taken out of context from a conversation between her and the writer.

Since the original article has been deleted, I have removed the quote from it below and also, at the request of my email correspondent, have removed the name of the parish involved.

An Anglican church which shall remain nameless in the Diocese of Montreal prides itself on being, “an open-hearted, welcoming, inclusive church.” It is so inclusive, it is renting office space in its rectory to a witch.

Both church and rectory are wheelchair and broomstick accessible.

Diocese of Montreal has an unsustainable deficit

Mainline denominations love to talk about sustainability. Usually, it relates to the church’s obsession with anthropogenic global warming, something that may not actually exist and, therefore, something that demands the full attention of pious clergy everywhere.

The Diocese of Montreal faces a real instance of sustainability – or, rather, unsustainability. Its deficit is unsustainable. Ultimately, that means the diocese itself is unsustainable; the only question is, will debt cause it to evaporate before it melts due to global warming?

From here:

Delegates to the annual diocesan synod approved a budget for 2017 with revenue of $2.08 million and expenses of $2.38 million, calling for a $300,856 operating loss, a little less than the $331,975 loss now forecast for this year.The operating losses were $529,482 in 2015 and $400,983 in 2014.
Diocesan treasurer Ron O’Connell told delegates, “Our diocese cannot sustain this rate of loss.”He said, “It’s very important that these things be addressed sooner than later, so that people understand that it’s time for action.” A number of parishes as well are facing threats to whether they can sustain themselves, he said, and some of them need assistance from the diocese in finding ways to “re-purpose” church buildings and other properties.
In addition to the operating losses, the diocese is shouldering special costs of establishing a new “church plant” in the former Church of St. James Apostle. The impact of these on diocesan funds is estimated at $200,000 in 2016 and the budget provides for another $200,000 in 2017. Mr. O’Connell said a further $100,000 is expected to be spent in 2018, following which collections from new worshippers at the church plant are forecast to move the plant into the black.
The 2017 budget approved by the synod includes some spending reductions. With the shift to publishing Anglican Montreal to four times a year rather than 10, beginning this fall, the newspaper is expected to cost the diocese $40,000 in 2016 instead of the $53,500 in the original 2016 budget, and $32,100 in the 2017 budget.
Also, spending on the French language ministry in Sorel, expected to cost $31,500 this year, is eliminated from the 2017 budget. Audited financial statements presented to the synod showed that the assets of the diocese declined to just under $14.1 million including $8.7 million in investments at the end of 2015 from $15.1 million including $11.1 million in investments at the end of 2014. After deducting liabilities, net assets declined to $11.3 million from $12.9 million.

Diocese of Montreal needs $8 million to repair its cathedral

The diocese is launching into a fundraising campaign with all the energy that a church less preoccupied with the temporal might devote to the saving of souls. No matter, this is the interesting part:

The cathedral had no spire from then until 1940, when a new one of aluminum panels mounted on a steel structure replicated the previous stone spire. That structure lasted through 1987-88, when the whole cathedral was, for a time, on a concrete slab supported by piles during construction of a shopping mall underneath the cathedral.

The foundations of the cathedral are resting on an altar dedicated to the  consumer god of a decaying civilisation: a shopping mall.  A perfect metaphor for the Diocese and, indeed, the entire Western Anglican edifice.

Diocese of Montreal to proceed with same-sex marriage

Not a surprise.

As reported by the CBC:

The head of the Anglican church in Montreal says she will allow her clergy to perform same-sex marriages, even though church leaders shot down marriage reform at a national meeting on Monday.

Mary Irwin-Gibson, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, will join Ottawa Bishop John Chapman in rejecting a decision by the church’s General Synod, which won’t recognize same-sex marriage.

[….]

”In terms of practical terms, for our diocese, I will be allowing some same-gender marriages to happen after I’ve discussed it with the clergy, and when the clergy come to me individually,” Irwin-Gibson told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.

Bishop of Montreal will vote for same-sex marriage

Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson will vote in favour of same-sex marriage at the July General Synod. It’s hard to see how she could do otherwise since she has a number of clergy in her employ who are civilly married to other men.

The reasons she gives for her decision live up to the high standard of language-twisting set by other Anglican Church of Canada bishops. The church, she says:

“has the right and obligation to prayerfully consider new things and not simply to march in lockstep with society,” said Gibson. But, she added, “neither are we to remain stuck by interpretations of Biblical principles, which not everyone shares.

Except, of course, the new thing here requires precision marching in lockstep with society and to discard 2000 years of biblical understanding because not everyone agrees is to discard the entire bible since, well, not everyone agrees.

She continues by claiming the vote in favour makes her an ambassador[s] of reconciliation:

“If we are to be ambassadors of reconciliation, disciples of Christ, I see the potential in ministering grace and sacraments to more people and in calling all married couples to be models of Christian discipleship and hospitality.”

Except, the Anglican obsession with homosexuality has already shattered the Anglican communion so it can hardly be a reconciling influence.

She claims that:

We will not all agree but we are one body.

And:

it is possible to achieve unity in diversity

Except that we have not been one body since Gene Robinson was consecrated and the diocese of New Westminster began blessing same-sex couples. Even Justin Welby has had to admit that there is no unity.

It sounds as if the Diocese of Montreal has decided to perform same-sex marriages even if the vote fails:

Several dioceses are more than ready to go ahead and some don’t ever see that day coming. The chancellor of General Synod is being consulted and we will see what happens after General Synod concludes.

The Shared Episcopal Ministry has withered away, as, surely, the conscience clause allowing clergy to refuse to marry same-sex couples would, too:

The bishop also confirmed that since she assumed the episcopacy almost nine months ago a compromise arrangement known as Shared Episcopal Ministry, instituted by her predecessor, Bishop Barry Clarke, in 2011, to accommodate six clergy and several parishes who saw him as too favourable to same-sex marriage has been allowed to lapse.

Taken together, in context, Mary Irwin-Gibson’s charge to synod was, even allowing for the fact that she is an Anglican bishop, a masterpiece of prating twaddle.

Diocese of Montreal enters a new mission field: Debt Collection

Parishes in the Diocese of Montreal owed the diocese $519.758.72 at the end of 2015. Matthew 6:24 notwithstanding, Mammon is near and dear to the heart of the Anglican Church of Canada, so parishes that have not paid their protection dues will receive a visit from members of the Diocesan Overdue Account Management team who will encourage them to develop a viable strategic plan. That way, no legs will be broken.

From here (page 6):

Outstanding accounts receivables owed by congregations to the Diocese for diocesan-paid parish stipends, assessments, insurance, and benefits stood at $519.758.72 at year end of 2015 with an outstanding balance remaining for 2015 of $338,898.76 as of March 31, 2016.

This is in addition to the year-end diocesan deficit and other categories of outstanding diocesan receivables. Often, the same four or five parishes account for the majority of these repeated unpaid invoices over several years, indicating that strategic planning assistance is required in these cases.

Therefore, as a further measurement of when diocesan intervention is required, the Diocesan Council also adopted a new policy for Diocesan Overdue Account Management.

This policy essentially requires a congregation, in consultation with Diocesan leadership, to develop a plan for repayment of its outstanding accounts, including a strategy for future mission and sustainability.

The new Bishop of Montreal wants to make the church relevant

Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson is the new bishop of the Diocese of Montreal, a diocese whose membership has plummeted from 93,000 in 1960 to 11,000 in 2015.

How does she intend to make the diocese “relevant”? Well, she is going to carpet bomb the diocese with clichés. We have: “think outside the box” – a phrase I’ve heard used by witless business executives hundreds of times when they have run out of ideas – “build up their [the clergy’s] sense of engagement” and ….. wait for it, “make ministry viable and sustainable”. She does mention “sharing the Gospel”, which is odd since I’d have thought it too far inside the box to be worthy of attention. She is a liberal, so it is probably a gospel of the viable and sustainable rather than the real thing.

Needless to say, she has no “problem with same-sex marriage”.

From here:

Irwin-Gibson, 59, said there are no easy answers on how to ensure the viability of Anglicanism in Quebec but she is up for the challenge.

With fewer than 11,000 members in the Montreal diocese, down from about 93,000 in 1960, the denomination faces an uncertain future.

“Often we get stuck in the patterns of how we’ve been doing it,” said Irwin-Gibson, who replaces retiring bishop Barry Clarke.

[….]

Irwin-Gibson acknowledged the challenges are daunting but said she is ready to think outside the box to keep the Anglican Church relevant, even if the model of a traditional church and full-time priest in every parish is no longer possible.

“How do we do ministry in a meaningful way without the model of some old guy (who) lives in the house next door?” she asked.

“My goal is to encourage the clergy, to build up their sense of engagement, to … make ministry viable and sustainable for the next generation,” said Irwin-Gibson, whose last posting was Kingston, Ont., where she was the dean of St. George’s Cathedral for six years.

Diocese of Montreal elects first female bishop

MiGThere isn’t anything surprising about that, of course. Nor is there anything surprising about this:

Irwin-Gibson listed nine priorities, of which the sixth was “to continue the Diocese of Montreal’s inclusive policy of ordaining partnered gay people.” She was the only one of four whose statement mentioned the topic.

The only surprising thing is that a suitable “partnered gay” person couldn’t be found for the position of bishop; the diocese had to make do with Irwin-Gibson instead. Still, at least she mentioned the priority of looking for more “partnered gay people” to ordain.