Readers of this blog may recall that last month that the Bishop of the New Westminster Diocese served J. I. Packer and others a “Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry.” I tried to do a roundup of the issues in this post. Here are the opening paragraphs:
In June of 2002, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster (in Vancouver, Canada) voted to authorize a service to bless same-sex unions. J. I. Packer was among the synod members who walked out in protest, and he explained why in an article for Christianity Today. The lede summarized his rationale: “Why did I walk out with the others? Because this decision, taken in its context, falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.”
On Feb. 13, 2008, Packer’s church, St. John’s Shaughnessy in Vancouver (at 760 members, the largest church in the Anglican Church of Canada), voted to leave the ACC and to align with a more orthodox branch in Argentina: the Province of the Southern Cone.
On Feb. 22, 2008, Michael Ingham, Bishop of the New Westminster Diocese, sent a letter to Packer (who has been an honorary assistant at St. John’s for over 20 years) and other clergy serving a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry under Canon XIX, based on (1) publicly renouncing the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada; and (2) having sought or intending to seek admission into another religious body outside the Anglican Church of Canada.
Two days ago Dr. Packer and the other clergy responded in the following letter:
Statement by nine Anglican Network in Canada clergy to
Bishop Michael Ingham
Delivered April 21, 2008
We, the undersigned clergy, are writing in response to the Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of Ministry that you have sent to each of us. We would like to point out that the Notice is not in compliance with the Canons in that it does not set out the required facts but simply repeats the language of the Canon. The canonical process has therefore not been engaged.
We have not abandoned the “ministry to which we were ordained”. Each of us was ordained into Anglican ministry; indeed, we were ordained into ministry in the “Church of God” as per our ordination vows. We have been privileged to serve in the Anglican ministry for many years and it is our intention and prayer that we may continue in the Anglican ministry.
Further, it is our intention to remain members of the Anglican Church. We are not leaving the Anglican Church to become members of another church or to minister in another church, which is the concern of Canon XIX.
However, with deep reluctance and regret we have concluded that we cannot continue the Anglican ministry to which we were ordained under your jurisdiction. The Diocese, under your leadership, has departed from historic, orthodox Anglican teaching and practice. It has departed from what the Primates have unanimously recognized as the standard of teaching of the Anglican Communion. The Diocese is in a state of broken or impaired communion with the majority of Anglicans worldwide. Sadly, it appears the Anglican Church of Canada has now similarly departed from Anglican teaching and practice.
We have therefore determined that in order to uphold our ordination vows, we must leave your jurisdiction, and by this letter, we hereby relinquish the licences we hold from the Bishop of New Westminster. Each of us will receive a licence to continue our present parish ministries from Bishop Donald Harvey, who, as you know, is under the jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone. In this way, we will be able to continue our Anglican ministry within the Anglican Church, under the jurisdiction of and in communion with those who remain faithful to historic, orthodox Anglicanism and as part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.
Rev. Dr. James I. Packer
Rev. Dr. Trevor Walters
Rev. David Short
Rev. Simon Chin
Rev. Stephen Leung
Rev. Dr. Archie Pell
Rev. James Wagner
Rev. Dan Gifford
Rev. Mike Stewart.