Vancouver Anglican bishop dismisses officials of conservative parish

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2003

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The head of a Canadian Anglican diocese that sanctions same-sex blessing ceremonies removed some leaders of a parish who disagree with the practice.

Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster said he acted only out of concern for maintaining order in the church, and insisted he did not remove the officials because of their views on homosexuality.

He said the officials at St. Martin's Anglican Church in North Vancouver had not been taking care of the daily business of the congregation and had challenged ''the order of the church,'' hurting the diocese's mission within the community.

''The minister and the wardens found that getting on with the normal, day-to-day activities that any church would be engaged in including work with all parishioners, not simply some who agreed with one side or the other of the issue just wasn't happening,'' attorney George Cadman, legal officer for the diocese, said in an interview with The Province newspaper.

Peter Turner, president of Fidelity B.C., a group that believes marriage should be between a man and a woman only, called the Sept. 7 dismissals ''a bullying tactic.''

The Anglican Communion, a 77-million-member global association of churches, is deeply divided over homosexuality.

Some parishes broke away from the New Westminster Diocese after it sanctioned same-sex blessings. Last month, the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the communion, confirmed its first openly gay bishop.

And earlier this month an Anglican church conducted the first public same-sex blessing ceremony in the Diocese of Toronto. Archbishop Terence Finlay said he did not give permission for the ceremony.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the communion, has summoned world Anglican leaders to a London meeting Oct. 15-16 to discuss the issue.

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