Thinking Anglicans

Panel of Reference reports on New Westminster

Updated again Saturday evening

ACNS Digest reports:

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s PANEL OF REFERENCE (POR) for the Anglican Communion report on the Diocese of New Westminster is now available at the following link on the Anglican Communion Website:
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/reference/docs/report_october.pdf

The entire report is here presented in 32 paragraphs with 4 recommendations.

The Panel of Reference is chaired by the Most Revd Peter Carnley and staffed through the Anglican Communion Office, London, by the Revd Canon Gregory Cameron. The panel first met in July 2005.
The functions of the Panel include :

[at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury] “to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities;

With [his] consent to make recommendations to the Primates, dioceses and provincial and diocesan authorities concerned, and to report to [him] on their response;

At the request of any Primate to provide a facility for mediation and to assist in the implementation of any such scheme in his own province.”

That PDF document does not allow extraction of the text, either in part or in whole, so we cannot at present easily quote it for you here.

Update we have now received a plain text version: here are the recommendations in full:

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. The Panel of Reference cannot recommend the proposals of the applicants for transfer of jurisdiction either to the ANiC or to CAPAC. The Diocese of New Westminster is part of the Anglican Communion within the Anglican Church of Canada, which is due to debate both Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and the St Michael Report at its General Synod in June 2007. The most desirable outcome, as stated in TWR (see s.6 above) is for the theological dispute to be resolved and for reconciliation to be effected within the Anglican Church of Canada.

2. In the present temporary situation, the Panel recognises that an agreed scheme of extended episcopal ministry needs to be offered to a number of clergy and parishes within the Diocese of New Westminster, which will both provide for their spiritual needs and offer assurance of continuity for their distinctive theological tradition.

3. Such a scheme should be achieved within the Anglican Church in Canada itself, at national or provincial level. The bishop of a diocese is subject to the general ecclesiastical law of the church or province concerned, and one would look to the Anglican Church of Canada for action to be taken in the first instance. The provision of a scheme of Shared Episcopal Ministry [SEM] by the Canadian House of Bishops in 2004 offers a model which we believe to be appropriate, with some additional safeguards designed to take account of the special circumstances prevailing in this case, given the protracted and deep divisions which exist.

4. In order to command the confidence of the parishes and Diocese concerned, we consider it reasonable that any arrangements made for extended episcopal ministry should address certain key issues:

a. The two congregations which are not recognised as parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster (Holy Cross, Abbotsford and the Church of the Resurrection, Hope) should be offered a context by which they may formalise their relationship with the Diocese, within the provisions of local canon law.

b. A bishop should be appointed to provide extended episcopal ministry, whose name should be agreed jointly by the diocese and the applicants, for an initial (but renewable) period of three years, in the manner described by SEM, from the list maintained by the local province; or if that can not be agreed, at a national level as described by SEM. The visiting bishop should receive delegated authority to conduct Visitations and Confirmations on behalf of the Diocese of New Westminster within the parishes which have opted to receive SEM.

c. The bishop who provides extended episcopal ministry should be involved at all stages of the process in appointing new clergy and in the ordination process in respect of candidates from and for the parishes which seek this extended episcopal ministry, in consultation with representatives of the congregations. The licence of newly appointed or ordained clergy should be signed by the visiting bishop in addition to the diocesan bishop.

d. The Diocese of New Westminster should indicate formally that any previous disciplinary action against any clergy concerned is now at an end and that any record of this has been deleted from personal records.

e. A written assurance should be provided to the four parishes concerned that the Diocese has no intention of pursuing civil legal action against them or their officers or trustees on the basis of the dispute which began in June 2002, and does not intend to use Canon 15 in respect of church properties during the agreed period of temporary episcopal ministry provided by SEM.

f. Equally the congregations concerned should be willing to regularise their connections with the diocese, in matters such as diocesan synod attendance and the payment of diocesan assessments, in the course of the period of shared episcopal ministry.

The Diocese of New Westminster has published this response: Diocese welcomes report by Panel of Reference. The Anglican Church of Canada has issued Primate welcomes Panel of Reference Report.

Statements have also been published by Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Archbishop Gregory Venables. Both can be read at Stand Firm. Or at Global South Anglican: DG here, and GV here.

Further analysis of the report can be found at:
Fr Jake: Panel of Reference’s Report on New Westminster
Tobias Haller: Panel of Reference: Still In Communion
Jim Naughton: Panel of Reference speaks

The Living Church has two reports: Panel Rejects Jurisdiction for Parishes Seeking Alternative Oversight and Panel of Reference Report Called Inadequate.

The Anglican Network in Canada has issued this open letter in response.

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Marshall Scott
Guest

This is an interesting document, with a bit of something to offend partisans at both ends. That said, I was interested in the reaffirmation, under the paragraphs of the Windsor Report, of 1) the integrity of provincial boundaries and processes; 2) the expectation that parties in refered matters will have a commitment to seek reconciliation; 3) the important distinction between jurisdiction and oversight, and the clear statement that oversight can be delegated but jurisdiction cannot; 4) the assumption that the framework of the Canadian plan of SEM can be adequate and should be tried first; and 5) a reiteration that… Read more »

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

The url given above won’t open for me…(perhaps it’s just as well ?)

Simon adds:
Others have reported problems also. But it works for many others, so please just keep trying.

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

A good summary Marshall.

I think the recommendations for involvement of the SEM bishop in the ordination and deployment process is a very reasonable and appropriate one, especially for parishes who fear the bishop may try to bring them in line by appointing a rector closer to the bishop’s thinking.

I’m not sure though, about the unqualified call for the diocese to drop disciplinary proceedings and to expunge the records of the clergy involved. It would seem that would be a proper step only if those clergy submit to the recommendations of the Panel.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Paragraphs 21 and 25 in particular strike at the root of the claims made by dissenters that the ACoC is not in communion with the C of E — a claim echoed in the Episcopal Church by our own dissenting minority. It would appear the Panel is continuing the theme limned out by Canterbury himself: that the legitimate structures of the various provinces are responsible for working out arrangements for delegated or alternative oversight, and that the Windsor process is very much that: a process for discernment with openness to changing consensus rather than a set of demands for adherence… Read more »

Peter Elliott
Guest
Peter Elliott
laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

OK
Thanks Simon.
I tried the Church of Canada site too, and this wouldnt open there either–must have a basic fault, perhaps that makes it work fitfully (I like that word).

Obadiahslope
Guest
Obadiahslope

Tobias’ point is well made. However for progressives the devil may be in the detail. The panel of reference recommends that the dissenting parishes be offered “assurance of continuity for their distinctive theological tradition”. To this end the diocese is required not to move against church property, and for the Episcopal visitor to be involved in the selection of clergy. The diocesan bishop is required to be on his best behaviour. The selection of the first rector for a dissenting will put this new scheme to the test. On the financial side, the requirement for parishes to pay their assessments… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dear Obadiahslope, I don’t find those details devilish in the least, and support the notion of permitting parishes to maintain their theological traditions, and their access to property, _so long as they remain in union with the diocese and abide by the canons of the church._ However, should parishes move to pull out of the diocese or otherwise sever their ties with it, it would appear from paragraph 21, and the language of the recommendations, that they forfeit any expectation treatment “as” Anglicans. We are not a church of disorder. Note as well that only past charges against clergy are… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Simon, Fr. Jake’s link doesn’t work..thank you.

NOW FIXED.

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Three cheers for the Panel of Reference for maintaining Anglican sanity in an era of insanity perpetrated upon TEC and General Convention by the usual suspects, the schismatic Duncanites and their spikey associates who refuse to accept the PB-elect Schori because she is a woman and a ‘convicted’ heretic without the benefit of a heresy trial by the ‘haters’ of Dame Julian of Norwich (if not hate of Dame Julian, is it plain ignorance of her opus?).

Marshall Scott
Guest

obadiah, I do agree about deployment to one of th dissenting parishes being a major point. However, that may not come to be an issue. First, the recommendations for Shared Episcopal Ministry in the Panel’s report are only for a limited period of time (although a renewal could, presumably, be negotiated). Second, the Canadian Synod and House of Bishops will need to do some work to define what it means that the delegated bishop “participates fully” in deployment decisions. The clear context of the Panel’s report would suggest that such participation would not be to the exclusion of the diocesan… Read more »

Ann Marie
Guest

A couple of responses to the Stand Firm article. Since when has the Canadian Church not been able to participate in the Instruments of Communion (I am assuming that +Gomez actually means Instruments of Unity). We are still in communion with the ABC as the Panel’s report makes clear. We are still going to attend the Primate’s meeting. There is every indication that we will be invited to Lambeth (including +Ingham). And it was our decision not to participate actively in the ACC. We honoured the request coming out of the Primate’s meeting (and I have some reservations about that)… Read more »

obadiahslope
Guest
obadiahslope

Marshall,
the panel aims to “preserve the distinctive theological tradition” read evangelical, of the parishes. That is the aim of the provision for the episcopal visitor to participate in the selection of clergy. They have an effective veto over the diocesan bishops appointment of a rector, in that they have to sign a license.
OTOH if the diocesan bishop refuses to sign, this reconcilation will be seen to have failed.At this point the panel’s scheme has real teeth.

obadiahslope
Guest
obadiahslope

Tobias,
it is worth remembering ( not that i am accusing you of forgetting) that there were eight churches that walked out of the New Westminster synod in protest at SSBs. Four have found alternative oversight similar to AMiA. The four churches in this report are essentially the dissenters who did not cut their ties – the stayers. They wanted protection from their bishop. Have they got enough? I don’t know.
We have discussed what a tougher DEPO might look like. I suspect that is what the panel has been trying to describe.

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

Gomez, Venables, Duncan, Iker et al are clearly ‘self conceited brethren’ who are only interested in what is ‘hammered on their anvil’ (Preface to KJ Authorised Bible). Authority must say what they want it to — or else it has no authority ! But this is very Anglican, in fact. The various traditions — as we all know full well — look to different sources of tradition and hold faith and practice it in hugely varied colours from the peacocks of the outer reaches of Papalist Anglo-Catholicism to those flightless, dull browish birds of — well, another end of the… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“And in both responses nothing is said about what the Panel had to say about crossing boundaries.”

I am shocked, shocked that they don’t manage to mention border crossing. They never do. Being a “Windsor Bishop,” as some of ours claim to be, never means paying any attention to that part of the Report. What a tiresome bunch of whiners they are.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Well, all of this i s rather predictable, isn’t it?

Marshall Scott
Guest

obadiah, I agree completely. I would even hope that they will find both reconciliation and maintainance of the traditions of each parish. I had conversation recently with a former colleague from the Diocese of Michigan, notably a “progressive” diocese for some time. He reported to me that St. John’s Church in Detroit, conservative enough to still preserve worship with the American 1928 Book of Common Prayer (the previous book), remains in the Diocese and has recently become a little more involved (his description). They have grown, if in his opinion largely by movement of conservative Episcopalians from other parishes. However,… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Obadiahslope, Yes, that is an important point, and what I was alluding to in reference to parishes staying “on their best behavior” in order to find a reasonable settlement. Those “true believers” who follow Global South advice to “flee the burning house” are placing themselves outside the discussion — and to judge by the Panel’s logic, not quite fully in the Anglican Communion (since being in the Communion, or at least in communion with “the Church of England &c.) is only through the territorial province — not via affiliation with Rwanda, Nigeria, or Southeast Asia. I remain troubled by the… Read more »

Obadiahslope
Guest
Obadiahslope

Tobias It is only reasonable to add that the bishop needs to be on his best behaviour too. The parishes statement recounts “there has been a distressing pattern of harassment of faithful parishes in New Westminster, again without sanction from the Canadian Church. It is a matter of public record that the diocese has locked a congregation out of their building and fired the orthodox wardens and volunteers, summarily dismissed a priest, ‘terminated’ a mission days before Christmas, and brought charges against the clergy of the protesting parishes.” At the very least it can be noted that irascible bishops are… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Obadiah, I acknowledge earlier that bishops will need to exercise all charity and grace in dealing with these matters. I am aware of the parish statement, but I am not in a position to judge the accuracy of its claims; it is abundantly clear that other claims made by the dissenters are baseless or exaggerated. I am used to hearing “reasserters” make accusations of persecution, only some of which are well-founded. In those cases where a bishop is actually exceeding his or her canonical authority provisions to protect the innocent are necessary, and restraint should be enforced if it cannot… Read more »

Obadiahslope
Guest
Obadiahslope

Tobias, I guess this is one situation where the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. You and I will watch from afar. From memory the mission congregations had been supported by the diocese in the past with considerable sums of money. If the missions are to become part of the diocese again will equivalent support be available? OTOH St John’s is the largest parish in the diocese -so its assessements will not be inconsiderable. Taking these two situations together will give us a picture of whether the diocese will deal in good faith with its dissidents at… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Has anyone else noticed that the response of the ANiC letter makes the briefest of nods to the Panel’s report, and then largely dismisses it accepting the critiques of Archbishops Gomez and Venables? If the four congregations in question take that line, I fear it does not bode well.

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Marshall,
It is indeed striking that the Network response ignores the Panel’s report. I guess if the structures of the Communion don’t give them what they want, they feel free to disregard it. In contrast with the statement from the diocese, there is absolutely no expression of desire for reconciliation or adherence to the whole of the Windsor Report.

Anyone else struck by the irony of Archbishop Gomez’s stance, considering that his own provincial chancellor was one of the authors of the Panel report?

Charles Nurse
Guest
Charles Nurse

There actually is a difference between the two mission congregations mentioned in the report. One (the Abbotsford one) had received considerable diocesan support prior to it “walking out” in 2002, which was not subsequently renewed. The one in Hope is a newly created mission (created by the Network). A number of members of the Christ Church Hope parish (which is still in the Diocesan family) left about 6-9 months ago and formed the nucleus for this new mission. The problem I see in formalising any relationship with this mission, is that even before the members left, the existing parish was… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Like the flat earth theories of sex which deliberately fail to comprehend the newish models for sexual orientation/gender variance, the latest conservative leaders’ replies to the Panel presume an implicit given godliness which is somehow utterly unavailable to anybody else. We continue to hear palpably dubious, settled assertions of crisis, leading to vague fears of some inarticulate leftwing church violation that is about to be perpetrated upon the remnant parishes who – though manners do vary – that they are the only righteous left in a location/diocese. The whole fiery sense of crisis is false and self-serving. No conservative believer… Read more »

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

I am fascinated to see that there is no mention of this Pronoucement on either Titusonenine anti-gay website, of on the fulcrum website.

They only seem to want what is ‘hammered on their own anvil.’

Dr Jim
Guest
Dr Jim

The question is of course, whether we have ‘irreconcilable differences’ or differences that can be worked through. There are those on both sides, though one more than the other, who cannot restrain their aggressive impulses and might step on everyone of us in the large middle in order to have their punch up. If the parties are working out an arrangement that will allow them to live and pray together, I do not think it is proper ethically or morally to insist that they continue to fight. Or perhaps I am totally off and God really wants us to burn… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Archbishop Buckle’s response is now online:
http://www.anglican.ca/pdf/statement-prov-bcyk-061020.pdf

I’m glad to see that he takes a stance much different from his original attempt (prior to his becoming Metropolitan) to exercise jurisdiction over the dissenting parishes as an extension of the Diocese of the Yukon, and that he is much more willing to seek reconciliation and unity.

The Canadian House of Bishops is meeting this week. Maybe an olive branch and a formal offer will be forthcoming?