[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, Nov. 18, 2010]
A BC court ruled earlier this week that four Vancouver area churches may leave the Anglican Church of Canada, but if they do, their building and property must remain the property of the denomination, the ACOC.
"The plaintiffs cannot in my respectful opinion remove themselves from their bishop's oversight and the diocesan structure and retain the right to use properties that are held for purposes of Anglican ministry in Canada," Justice Mary Newbury of the BC Court of Appeal wrote in the decision on Monday.
The case delved from an issue in the Diocese of New Westminster that I covered for the Report magazines when it first began to brew a decade ago. The diocese's bishop, Michael Ingham, had decuded that he would allow gay marriages to be blessed in the diocese.
The four churches, along with some others in the diocese, disagreed with Ingham's decision, arguing that gay marriages were not bibilcally sound.
Those opposed to Ingham's decision tried to get the bishop to change his mind. Failing to do so, several of the opposed churches left the diocese quickly, and left their sanctuary buidings as well for the ACOC to take possession of. (Ed Hird's church, in North Vancouver, for example, now meets in a school.)
Four local churches, including St, John's Shaughnessy (one of the biggest Anglican churches in Vancouver),perhaps looking at the very high cost of property in Vancouver and its suburbs, were attempting to persuade the court that the church is the congregants, and they own the property.
The Vancouver Sun and the National Post, among others, covered the court's decision.
The CP story in the Winnipeg Free Press, also says that the churches lose their bank accounts as well to the ACoC, but as this is only place I have read that, that should be double checked.
The churches may appeal to the Supreme court of Canada. But they won't necessarily go without. I visited St. John's Shaughnessy a few months ago, and one of the congregants there told me that the church had a "Plan B". If they were to lose their building, he said, another church had offered them space for their services.