Diocese of Niagara to have Justice Camp in Cuba

The Anglican equivalent of Saudi Arabia heading a UN human rights panel is locating a Justice Camp in one of the least just countries in the world outside of North Korea: Cuba. Perhaps the incentive was a promise of free cigars.

From here (page 10):

The first-ever international Justice Camp will bring together a diverse group of Anglicans in Cuba from May 1-6, 2016, to explore the concept of the common good with an eye towards furthering God’s justice and loving purposes.

Bishop Michael Bird spent over $1 million suing ANiC parishes

I had not seen the cost to the Diocese of Niagara of its litigation until this article about Bird appeared in the Anglican Journal. I imagine the diocese views it as money well spent since the sale and demolishing of St. Hilda’s church and rectory alone netted them $2.6 million; and who cares about 1 Corinthians 6:1 when what really counts is at stake?

“Just prior to my becoming bishop, three parishes voted to walk away from the diocese of Niagara,” Bird said in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “There was a subsequent fourth one some months after…that.” What he needed to do, he said, was to draw “a good group of people around the episcopal office.”

Protracted and sometimes rancorous legal battles over the ownership of properties followed. The costs of these battles—which Bird said ran upwards of $1 million—were compounded by the recession of 2008, which drove the diocese into serious financial difficulties.

The Diocese of Niagara continues to endear itself to the community

The Diocese of Niagara Living the Vision in Guelph.

From here:

Last Saturday’s feature on the Ethiopian congregation in Breslau was heartwarming.

Not only did the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church consider fellow Christians seeking worship space as worthy purchasers, they actually donated the church that they no longer use to a congregation without a place to call home.

What generosity of spirit, what kindness and forethought, what admirable consideration for the entire community.

Such selfless motivation is sorely lacking in the saga of the former St. Matthias Church property in Guelph, which is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Niagara. In this case, the diocese outright refused a $1.2-million purchase offer from a local congregation for the redundant Anglican Church at Kortright and Edinburgh roads. Rather, they continue to favour a bidder who proposes to demolish the church and replace it with high-density housing.

Anglican claims of putting ministry ahead of money ring hollow when you see the opportunities the Lutherans (and some other denominations) create for other faith groups.

Why is it so difficult for the Anglican diocese to see through the shallow advice they are being given? Why advocate mercenary practices that preclude serious offers from other congregations because they cannot compete with developers?

This is exactly what is happening here in spite of community objections, in spite of Guelph city council questioning the entire process, in spite of a developer using the Ontario Municipal Board process to get its own way.

What a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the Anglican Church.

Optimism descends upon the Diocese of Niagara

Not, needless to say, because they are bringing more people to Christ but because they have more money.

From here:

The past decade has not been an easy one for the diocese of Niagara. Beset by financial woes, theological divisions over the place of gays and lesbians in the church and a series of lawsuits from parishes that left the diocese to join the breakaway Anglican Network in Canada, diocesan leadership has faced challenging times.

But these days, its leaders are cautiously optimistic about the diocese’s future. For one, a settlement with the Anglican Network reached in 2012 has ended crippling lawsuits and left parish buildings from three breakaway churches in the hands of the diocese.

To clarify one point: “a series of lawsuits from parishes that left the diocese” should read “a series of lawsuits initiated by the diocese against parishes that left the diocese”.

Diocese of Niagara lets secular group use one of its buildings rent free

The diocese allows HARRRP to use St. Peter’s church in Hamilton rent free. At first glance, this appears to be generous. Less so at second glance.

St. Peter’s once housed a thriving congregation, a congregation that, because of theological differences with the diocese, aligned itself with ANiC. To avoid costly court battles, in November 2010 the congregation surrendered the building to the Diocese of Niagara at which point the diocese, rather than allow a Christian congregation to use the building for worship, donated the use of it to HARRRP, a secular organisation.

Being careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them, the diocese, to advertise its generosity, has a smugly self-congratulatory article on display here:

HARRRP’s St. Peter’s location first opened its doors in November 2010. The building had been sitting empty since its congregation broke with the Anglican Church of Canada when the diocese of Niagara offered HARRRP the rent-free use of the building as a community centre. The diocese has remained involved, with the Rev. Peter Wall, dean of Niagara, the Rev. Bill Mous, director of justice, community and global ministries for the diocese of Niagara, and bishop of Niagara Michael Bird currently sitting on HARRRP’s board of directors.

Read more about the settlement with ANiC here:

Hamilton, Ontario, November 1st, 2010 – St. Peter’s Church in Hamilton, Ontario has been returned to the Anglican Diocese of Niagara by the members of the Anglican Network in Canada after a two year dispute over the rightful control over this property.

Negotiations had been underway for a number of weeks and an amicable agreement was reached at the end of last week that will transfer the assets and property back to the Diocese

Diocese of Niagara supports living wage program

From here:

Hamilton’s business voice and a leading social service agency have joined a crusade to make the city a living wage economy.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Good Shepherd Centres signed onto the drive Friday, joining a growing group calling for a basic wage that’s tied to what it actually costs to live here.


In Hamilton, the campaign argues a working person needs at least $14.95 an hour to purchase adequate shelter, clothing, food, transportation, child care, health insurance and “social inclusion” needs, such as a city recreation pass and other necessities.

Companies and agencies backing Living Wage Hamilton …….

Anglican Diocese of Niagara

There is only one problem with this: the Diocese of Niagara pays its janitors $12.50 per hour while campaigning for everyone else to pay at least $14.95 per hour; poor chaps will be deprived of their social inclusion needs – whatever that means..

The Diocese of Niagara’s continuing mission in Guelph

Alienating the residents:


From here:

Protesters seek meeting with Anglican bishop over sale of Guelph property

GUELPH — Passionate but peaceful protesters gathered outside St. George’s Anglican Church in downtown Guelph on Sunday morning to send a message to the church’s bishop.

As parishioners filed into the Woolwich Street church, roughly 25 members of two south end community groups handed out literature and marched on the sidewalk with signs critical of Bishop Michael Bird of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara.

While the protesters made it clear they have no issue with St. George’s Church itself, they felt it was another way to try to pressure Bishop Bird to meet with them and discuss the sale of property on Kortright Road that is the home of the former St. Matthias Anglican Church.

The Bishop was not at Sunday’s service.

And while the behaviour was cordial and polite, the signs and words of the protesters were a little more barbed.

“I think the bishop should meet with the people. Jesus met with everybody, sinners and non-sinners, so why would the bishop not meet with the people,” said Bruce Taylor of Citizens for Community.

The property in question, on the northeast corner of the intersection of Kortright and Edinburgh roads, has been sold to HIP Developments, which has gone to the Ontario Municipal Board to try to get the property rezoned from institutional to specialized residential.

HIP Developments plans to build a six-storey, 81-unit residential complex.

Opponents feel it is the wrong use for the 0.81-hectare site and want to preserve the land and property for community use.

“The church should practise what they preach,” said Filippa Mirotta, who has lived near the property for 30 years.

She and others felt the church was intent only on maximizing its financial return on the property rather than the social implications.

“The church has a moral responsibility,” Mirotta said. “The church is not in the business of making money.”

Linda Davis of the McElderry Community and Friends group said they have asked three times for a meeting and were turned down each time.

“We want to meet with him face to face and he continues to shun us and treat us with disrespect,” Davis said. “It’s a very sad situation.”

Diocese of Niagara developing 8 story condo building in cathedral parking lot

The synod of the Diocese of Niagara has granted approval for the development which, in spite of bearing a passing resemblance to soviet era flats, will by no means be low cost housing. Here is a conceptual rendering:


The plans are here with more details on the buildings here.

Ironically, at the same time the diocese is ploughing millions of dollars into its headquarters, the diocesan image is looking a trifle tattered in Guelph, where residents are planning a demonstration over the sale of St. Matthias for – you guessed it, millions of dollars.

GUELPH — Two community groups are planning a peaceful rally outside St. George’s Anglican Church Sunday to request a meeting with Bishop Michael Bird of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara about the tentative sale of St. Matthias Church property to HIP Developments.

Linda Davis, of the McElderry Community and Friends Group, said the group has made “repeated requests” to speak with Bird about the sale of the property, where HIP intends to build a six-storey, 81-unit student-geared residence called Solstice 3.


Davis said she believes it comes down to money for the diocese.

“They’ve tied their futures to that plan and they’re not willing to deviate from it regardless of what we say,” she said.

The bishop has defended the sale on the basis that:

our Diocese is in the business of nurturing and building spiritual communities in the Anglican tradition, not in the business of urban planning.

The cathedral development looks suspiciously like urban planning to me.

Selling cathedral land to developers to build apartments appears to be a trend. Here is the Diocese of Ottawa’s cathedral and diocesan offices sandwiching a large apartment block; the dwarfed cathedral is just visible. It seems to be a fitting metaphor for western Anglicanism: the church used to be surrounded by the secular, now the secular has been invited to dwell and flourish within the church:

The Diocese of Niagara and the love of money

The Diocese of Niagara’s self-proclaimed mission is to be a champion of social justice.  By its actions, it is not only doing a magnificent job of concealing that but it is managing to convey the impression that the church really just wants your money.

From here:

The Anglican Church of Canada Niagara Diocese has inadvertently confirmed a perspective many have about churches: they’re only out for money.

The diocese turned down offers from two local congregations (one for $1.2 million, the other for $800,000), who would have maintained the St. Matthias Church property’s institutional and community use.

Instead it accepted a $2-million bid from HIP Developments whose proposed student housing project has met with resounding opposition from the neighbourhood.

Contrast that to the Sisters of St. Joseph, a dwindling community of nuns in the Steeles and Bayview Avenues area of Toronto. (Pope John Paul II visited this convent while in Toronto for the World Youth Day celebration in 2002.) Developers offered the sisters $75 million for the 23 hectares of prime real estate. Instead, the nuns accepted a $58-million offer from the neighbouring Tyndale University College, who pledged to maintain many of the convent’s unique characteristics, including an incredible chapel and an outdoor Stations of the Cross.

The response from the diocese’s head, Bishop Michael Bird hasn’t helped matters: “Going forward, our ministry — both with the re-envisioned St. Matthias community and all our area parishes — will continue to further God’s loving purposes throughout the Royal City.”

The Diocese of Niagara has competition in Guelph

The Diocese of Niagara is closing both St. Matthias and St. David and St. Patrick in Guelph. As a counterpoint to the sound of shrivelling, accompanied by revving bulldozers, echoing throughout empty diocesan buildings ANiC is considering opening an Anglican Church in Guelph. Ecclesiastical free enterprise is a wonderful thing.

See below for details:

I met recently with the Reverend Zena Attwood, a minister of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). ANiC, she explains, is trying to stem this Anglican hemorrhage by establishing churches that fulfill [sic] the goals I’ve described. Their website (anglicannetwork.ca) shows that in their first five years they have 72 parishes across Canada. ANiC is a member of the conservative Anglican Church in North America, that reckons about a thousand parishes in Canada and the USA and is enthusiastically planting more. Ms Attwood says she’s creating a core group to start such a parish in Guelph. The group meets on Sunday mornings for Bible discussion and eucharist. Ms Attwood invites inquiries at 519 846 0454 or [email protected] Mr D’Arcy Luxton is an alternative contact at 519 846 0483 or [email protected]