The divide heads north

anglicanchurchcanadalogoMuch of the mainstream media coverage of the controversies in the Anglican Communion have focused on The Episcopal Church. Canada’s Globe and Mail looked at how things are playing out in another part of North America. Robert Matas wrote a story on Friday about a parish in Vancouver deciding to align with Anglicans in South America. He took the novel and welcome angle of determining why the parish had made its decision. For his lede, he told readers about the Bible study that parishioners at St. John’s Shaughnessy Church had taken part in prior to voting to request oversight from Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Anglican Province of Southern Cone:

The rector, Rev. David Short, talked a lot about church unity that day, Lesley Bentley, a spokeswoman for St. John’s Shaughnessy, said yesterday in an interview.

Mr. Short spoke about the importance of church unity with Scripture and of a common understanding of Scripture, particularly around core values, Ms. Bentley recalled. “It was about the supremacy of the Bible and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.”

The study group did not talk about the blessing of same-sex unions, she added. “From our point of view, that is not what the vote was about,” Ms. Bentley said.

Matas explains that the diocese that includes Vancouver voted to allow clergy to bless same-sex relationships. Further, Matas writes, most churches in the region supported the move. St. John’s Shaughnessy didn’t, walked out of the diocese and tried to maintain ties with the Anglican Church of Canada. That didn’t work:

As a result, St. John’s Shaughnessy since 2002 has been unable to arrange the ordination of young men and women trained at the parish who are ready for the ministry.

I imagine there might be other ecclesiastical repercussions as well, no? Anyway Matas gave parishioners the opportunity to explain themselves:

The dispute is over a much more fundamental issue than a disagreement over same-sex blessings, Ms. Bentley said. Bishop Michael Ingham, who heads the Diocese of New Westminster, deals with Scripture in a completely different way than the congregation at St. John’s Shaughnessy, she said.

“He looks at Scripture through the lens of what is happening in society now and tries to make Scripture adapt to society. We look at society through the lens of Scripture and say, how does Scripture inform us about what is happening in society now,” Ms. Bentley said.

Obviously views about homosexuality are a part of the divide in the Anglican Communion. But even a casual observer can tell that the issues run much deeper than that. It’s good to see a Canadian reporter tell part of that story. He also followed up the next day with a broader story about the 15 Canadian congregations that are currently deciding whether to realign with Southern Cone.

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  • Mike Hickerson

    My wife and I attended St. Johns Shaughnessy while living in Vancouver, and it probably has the highest concentration of academic theologians of any church I have ever seen. J. I. Packer was on the staff while I was there, and a number of Regent College professors attended there regularly. These are men and women with a non-reductionist view of Scripture and a deep sense of church history. It’s also a church with a global view of Christianity. When I attended there, the pastoral staff represented four different continents.

  • Undergroundpewster

    The reporter did a good job of quoting Ms. Bentley as the source. Did the reporter attempt to contact the rector?

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