Diocese of BC desperately seeking same-sex couples to marry

The dioceses of Niagara, Ottawa, Montreal , Toronto and British Columbia are proceeding with same-sex marriages ahead of the final vote to approve them in 2019.

But, having scoured the province for likely candidates, poor Bishop Logan McMenamie has yet to find any men willing to marry another man; or a woman to marry another woman. If Anglicans in BC don’t get with the program soon, McMenamie will have to resort to compelling some of his eligible male clergy to tie the knot.

From here:

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the diocese of British Columbia, announced at a diocesan synod in autumn 2016 that he will “move forward with the marriage of same-sex couples in the diocese” on a case-by-case basis. When the Anglican Journal contacted McMenamie’s offce in March 2017, no same-sex couples had yet approached the diocese about the possibility of marriage.

Niagara’s Bishop Michael Bird currently has the competitive edge in the same-sex marriage scavenger hunt: he has four couples under his belt.

Niagara, however, may have an unfair advantage since it has widened the net by including bisexuals, who, presumably, would only be satisfied with a ménage à trois, counting as 1.5 couples. Of course, if both candidates are bisexual, we would need a ménage à quatre, a bonus that would qualify as two couples. Transgender couples are also part of the Niagara strategy. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but I estimate that, depending on the mood of the moment and assuming part-time transgenderism – gender, we are assured, is fluid – it would make a total of four possible copulative combinations, one for each week of the month: man-man, man-woman, woman-man and woman-woman. That would count as at least two couples, possibly four.

Bird said his thoughts on the matter have not changed and that he was committed to continuing “to walk along the path of full inclusion and to immediately proceed with marriage equality” with LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited) Anglicans in his diocese.

Diocese of Niagara deconsecrates another church

This time it is the turn of St. James in Merritton, St Catharines.

From here:

“This church building has been a home, a refuge and a place filled with great joy in the midst of countless celebrations,” said Bishop Michael Bird during the final service at St. James Merritton (St Catharines). “It has also been for us a sanctuary in the face of so many difficult and painful moments and tragedies.”

The building was deconsecrated—returned to common use—at a special afternoon service on Sunday, January 22.

Ironically, it was nine years ago today that diocesan officials marched into St. Hilda’s, and shortly after into Good Shepherd in St. Catharines, to demand the building keys because they wanted to use the churches to continue diocesan services after their congregations had voted to join the Southern Cone and later ANiC.

When the buildings were finally in the hands of the Diocese of Niagara, Bishop Michael Bird noted:

”I am very pleased with this outcome,” said Bishop Michael Bird.  “It affirms that these churches belong to all the generations that built them up and not just a particular group of individuals.”

Of the churches that “belong to all the generations that built them up”, Good Shepherd in St. Catharine’s now stands empty, cold and desolate and St. Hilda’s, in 2013, was torn down:

In 2017, the lot still stands empty:

As a fitting finale to the comedic irony, the Diocese of Niagara, having also acquired St. Hilda’s rectory, sold it to Daniel Freedman, owner of, so I am told, the largest sex toy company in Canada, PinkCherry Sex Toys. You may not want to click on that link.

Diocese of New Westminster won’t perform same-sex marriages until 2019

That means that the Diocese of Niagara has usurped New West’s position as the most liberal diocese in Canada.

From here:

First, during this three-year period we will strengthen what we offer all couples who seek marriage or the blessing of their marriage in the church. I will convene a group to create standards and develop or refine materials to assist all couples in preparing for their making monogamous, lifelong commitments of fidelity to each other.

Second, we will abide by what General Synod decided, that is, during this three-year period we will hold off on our clergy officiating at the marriage of same-sex couples, preserving this period as a time to study, reflect, discern and pray for General Synod 2019 and its decisions. I, myself, did vote for the change in the Marriage Canon and do believe that offering marriage to same-sex couples within the Church is an expression of the Gospel.  At the same time, as your bishop I feel I should respect and abide by the full resolution as passed at General Synod 2016.

Third, building on the work already done in this diocese, I will authorize new liturgies for the blessing of marriages that enhance and maximize what we as church do and keep to a minimum what marriage commissioners do. These liturgies will be available for the use of clergy and parishes who would find them helpful and for all couples who are duly qualified to enter into civil marriage.

Sex in the Diocese of Niagara

The Anglican Church of Canada would like you to believe that it has more important things on its mind than sex; homosexual sex, in particular.

In Canada, around 0.12% of the population are same-sex couples in a civil marriage. Of those, the number pining for a liturgical Anglican seal of approval on their matrimonial state would be even smaller, to the extent that they would represent an extremely small portion of the Canadian population. So the ACoC should have more important things on its mind.

But it doesn’t. Here is the headline of the front page of the Diocese of Niagara’s newspaper:Headline

The Diocese of Niagara connects with its inner gardener

Two churches have been awarded $45,000 in Trillium grants – donated by you, the generous taxpayer – for planting gardens. My wife is a keen gardener so, next year, she will be applying.

Sadly, both Anglican churches that applied received nothing but honourable mentions, notwithstanding the copious number of green tears emitted by its well-rehearsed clergy – who, it must be admitted, are generally overly lachrymose due to the excessive number of smudging ceremonies they are obliged to attend.

From here:

Two local groups are the recipients of a one-year, $45,000 seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The announcement was recently made during the Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) Halton Peel chapter’s annual Green Awards Night and Networking Event.

The evening, held at the Church of the Incarnation, celebrates faith communities working together.

[…..]

The Green Awards Night and Networking Event also featured Terrylynn Brant who spoke on the ‘Spirit in Gardening’.

Brant is a member of the Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from Six Nations and shared her learned skills from a long line of traditional knowledge holders. “She inspired the audience to connect with their inner gardener and their spirit,” stated the release.

The evening ended with an awards presentation.

Unitarian Congregation Church and Applewood United Church in Mississauga were this year’s two award winners.

Honourable mention went to St. Simon’s Anglican Church and Church of the Incarnation in Oakville.

Bishop Michael Bird responds to Marriage Canon decision

The Canadian House of Bishops cannot muster the 2/3rds majority it would need to pass a motion to change the marriage canon to accommodate same-sex couples. Here is the reaction from the liberal Diocese of Niagara’s Michael Bird. Interestingly, he notes that “many” of the bishops did not agree with the amendment.

TO THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE OF THE DIOCESE OF NIAGARA

My dear friends:

It is with deep sadness and regret that I write this letter to you today. As you know we in Niagara have and continue to work very hard to give life and bear faithful witness to our baptismal promise that calls us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being.” This past week the Canadian House of Bishops has just concluded a special meeting on proposed changes to our national Marriage Canon, changes that I personally believe seek to uphold this sacred dignity in the sacrament of marriage for those who identify as LGBTQ2.

It is apparent, however, that many of my fellow bishops cannot support the proposal at this time, as indicated by this declaration: “In our exploration of these differences it became clear to us that the draft resolution to change the Marriage Canon to accommodate the marriage of same-sex partners is not likely to pass in the Order of Bishops by the canonical requirement of a 2/3rds majority in each Order.”

While I believe this assessment to be true, I know how disturbing this will be for so many in our diocese and beyond. I want to say how deeply sorry I am that this is the case and my heart aches for all who continue to be wounded by the words and actions of our Church. I am one of the bishops at this meeting who was, as a statement by the House of Bishops puts it, “mortified and devastated by this realisation.”

I take heart in the commitment by the House of Bishops to “explore other options for honouring and fully embracing covenanted, faithful same-sex relationships.” Over the coming months I intend to prayerfully explore what that might mean for all of us in Niagara. I know that your voices and those representing Canadian Anglicans at General Synod will offer important insights about where the Spirit is leading us at this moment in the life of our Church.

As your bishop I will continue to do all in my power to seek and bear witness to the transformational power of God’s inclusive love so that the dream of equal marriage will be realized. Please remember those impacted by this news in your prayers along with those who will participate in General

Bishop Michael Bird responds to Primates’ Communiqué

What it lacks in surprises it makes up for in clichés:

Bishop Michael Bird has expressed his “profound disappointment” ‎with news arising from the recent Primates Meeting that The Episcopal Church will be suspended for a period of three years from formal leadership roles within the Anglican Communion. “We stand together with our sister and brother Anglicans in The Episcopal Church,” said the Bishop, and “give thanks for their faithful witness to the loving purposes of God.”

The Bishop is holding in his prayers all those whose dignity is impacted by the Communiqué from the Primates, especially those who identify as LGBTQ2. While we recognize the pain experienced by many as a result of the decisions taken at the Primates Meeting, Bishop Michael echoes Archbishop Curry’s words that our vocation may be to help the Communion “grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for us all.”

Bishop Michael also deeply appreciates our own Primate’s gracious leadership and his invitation to continue to pray for the primates as well as for ourselves that we might be faithful to our calling to “be the face of Jesus in this world.” The Anglican Church of Canada has issued an initial statement by our Primate and a more fulsome statement is expected on Monday.

As part of his own ongoing commitment to the Anglican Communion, Bishop Michael participates in an annual Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. Given the developments at the Primates Meeting, Bishop Michael feels that this gathering continues to be “so important in the life of the Anglican Communion.” Since 2010, the rotating group of African and North American bishops have met annually at locales around the world. Their gatherings facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation. The next consultation is scheduled for May 2016 in Ghana.

Bishop Michael also reiterates his hope and expectation that all Anglicans in Niagara will prayerfully engage with recent report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon entitled “This Holy Estate” in the lead up to our General Synod this July.

The Diocese of Niagara is in decline

The Anglican Church of Canada is squeamishly shy about publicising how many people attend its churches. No complete statistics for membership and average Sunday attendance have been published since 2001, although the ACoC did claim a membership of 545,957 in 2007.

The Diocese of Niagara’s paper, however, has published some statistics for 2013 and 2014:

DoN NumbersYou can see that the average Sunday attendance fell 7.2 percent in one year. We cannot know, of course, whether this rate of decline will increase or decrease as the years pass but, if it remains the same, in 60 years there will be 91 people left in the diocese or, since there are 89 parishes, around one person per parish – presumably the priest.

On a less gloomy note, the number of green parishes increased by three, demonstrating, I suppose, that the diocese overestimated the drawing power of its Gaia god.

Diocese of Niagara accused of caring only about money – again!

The Diocese of Niagara, still smarting from being denounced as greedy, has decided to give Guelph residents upset with the sale of St. Matthias two months to come up with a plan more to their liking:

The Anglican Diocese of Niagara is giving community groups a two-month window to come up with a revised development proposal for the patch of land at 171 Kortright Rd. W.

The Diocese made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday.

Diocesan spokesman, Rev. Bill Mous, said that “the diocese cared deeply about Guelph”, a pious condescension which has not convinced at least one citizen, who announced in a letter to a local Guelph newspaper that the diocese “cares only about money”, that Mous’s words “ring hollow”, that the community “does not feel cared for“ and that the diocese has “cast a dark shadow on the reputation of the Anglican Church everywhere” – not an easy thing to do considering the completion.

Read it all here and –  Merry Christmas, Diocese of Niagara and staff:

Anglican Diocese only cares about money

Two contract extensions in spite of the fact that the City councillors unanimously said no to the rezoning application. Two extensions in spite of the feelings of the neighbours who want the church to remain a church and in spite of the hopes and prayers of local congregations who are longing for usable worship space. Preserve a church as a church? Why do that when you can reap an extra million dollars by selling to a developer who specializes in high-density construction?

The words of Bill Mous, spokesperson for the Diocese, ring hollow to anyone who has a stake in the neighbourhood surrounding the church property. The Diocese “cares deeply for Guelph”? This community does not feel cared for. It seems the Diocese cares deeply about turning a huge profit by rezoning institutional land to R-4 specialized. And the Diocese cares deeply about running the community out of money so that citizens lose their right to object at the board.

It’s a sad comment on Anglican officials who lack a social conscience and try to bafflegab their way out of any responsibility for the upcoming demolition of a church that other congregations would be thankful to be able to purchase at fair-market value for institutional land. Diocese decisions have cast a dark shadow on the reputation of the Anglican Church everywhere and the Synod clearly worships the almighty dollar rather than the Almighty.

An open letter to Bishop Michael Bird

A resident of Guelph appeals once more to the bishop of Niagara not to sell St. Matthias to property developers.

In spite of claiming to make justice one of the centrepieces of its ministry, the diocese doesn’t seem to have convinced those who live in Guelph: it would appear that “the word on the streets of Guelph is ‘greed’”.

From here:

This column is presented as an open letter to Michael Bird, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara.

On behalf of the Citizens for Community and all the residents of Guelph, I would appeal to you not to renew the Anglican Church’s conditional purchase agreement with HIP Developments for 171 Kortright Rd. W. Yes, you have the legal right to sell the St. Matthias church property – and to the highest bidder. That’s all you have though. You don’t have the moral right. The land is community space – for the people of Guelph.

You represent the Anglican Church. People expect higher moral standards of churches, not lower. If you sell the property, zoned “institutional” for a much higher “residential” or “high density residential” amount, in the middle of a single home family neighbourhood, the Anglican Church will be held responsible. You will have failed morally.

You can do better. The Anglican Diocese bought the land in 1981 for $110,000. It was zoned “institutional” and for a reason. Communities need lands zoned “institutional” for different faiths, hospices, nursery schools, service clubs, seniors’ centres, not-for-profit housing, and a host of other organizations. To buy land zoned for “institutional,” and then turn around and sell it for “residential” or “high density residential,” at a much higher profit, and to not accept fair market offers from other churches, is immoral. The word on the streets of Guelph is greed. People also aren’t interested in money reinvested in Guelph that is more than the value of the property as “institutional.” That would be tainted money. It would be totally unjust for Anglican ministries to be financed at the expense of the McElderry neighbourhood and their families.

In the future, other organizations will need community space. People need a place to meet and to be community. The church stands for community. Other churches offered fair market value for the St. Matthias property. Why did you not accept their offers or negotiate with them? Why not now accept new offers from the same churches or other community organizations? The Anglican Church benefited from this land zoned “institutional” for over thirty years! Why would you not give another church or community organization the same opportunity? The United and Presbyterian churches both sold their churches to other churches or institutions.

I would encourage you to come from Hamilton to Guelph and to listen to the people. I assure you the majority would respond: “Well, you can do whatever, but it definitely sounds like greed.” You also have caused the neighbours to raise and spend thousands of dollars and work countless hours to fight for their neighbourhood. If you succeed at the OMB with your initial decision to sell to HIP Developments, will you reimburse the local community for their expenses? I would hope so.

What do you stand for? I believe (for) community and spirituality. How is what you’re doing consistent with: “Do unto others (other churches) as you would have them do unto you.” Other churches made fair market value offers. Reopen the sale process and do the right thing. No one will fault you for getting it wrong at the first. They will if you get it wrong in the end. Churches are human and as history proves don’t always get it right. We know that only too well in Canada. We all get it wrong from time to time. Stop the renewal agreement with HIP, and do the right thing. The McElderry neighbourhood and the reputation of the Anglican Church in Guelph, a church that continues to serve Guelph well, are far more important than surplus money. Don’t go down in history as the bishop who sold our community land out from underneath us. Go down in history as the bishop, like many bishops, archbishops and other religious leaders, who realized that getting it right in the end is what it’s all about.

Guelph is counting on you getting it right. Choose people over profit. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” If you are our friend, let us know by your actions. The time is always right to do what is right. Contact HIP Developments and make a “Good for the People of Guelph” and “Good for the Anglican Church” decision.