Buckle exits New Westminster

VANCOUVER, BC-Ten Anglican parishes in the Lower Mainland are without a bishop after Yukon Bishop Terry Buckle decided earlier this month to cancel his offer to be their spiritual overseer as an "alternative" to New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham.

Buckle's decision follows a deal brokered by the national House of Bishops in late October calling on him to desist from any further pastoral involvement with the member-parishes of the Anglican Communion in New Westminster (ACiNW).

In exchange, Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of B.C. and the Yukon, would stay-or suspend-disciplinary action against Buckle for getting involved in the affairs of another diocese, and Ingham would stay an investigation into alleged "disobedient and disrespectful conduct" on the part of seven ACiNW clergy.

The bishops also resolved to set up a task force to study "alternative episcopal oversight" for parishes that find themselves at serious odds with their bishops.

"It is apparent to me," Buckle stated in a letter to the ACiNW, "that the way ahead in this regard is to allow a new process" to begin-one that precluded him being their bishop.

The parishes of the ACiNW and Ingham have not even been talking to each other since he sanctioned a marriage-like rite of blessing for committed same-sex couples last May.

Crawley told the Vancouver Sun that he was "delighted" by Buckle's decision, while Ingham called it "a step forward in restoring the order of the church," and that he was praying it would lead to reconciliation within his diocese.

Both said they would now drop their legal actions against Buckle and the seven disaffected priests.

But on the heels of Buckle's announcement, one of those priests-Ed Hird of St. Simon's in North Vancouver-said as of November 9, his parish would be "out of communion with the Diocese of New Hampshire, ECUSA, and any person who took part in the 'consecration'" of openly homosexual bishop Gene Robinson. That includes Ingham, who attended the service and has applauded Robinson's election.

Hird said St. Simon's was "not prepared to go back and be re-enmeshed in potentially 'endless' negotiation with" their former bishop-and urged other parishes to follow its example.

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About the author

Senior Correspondent

Frank Stirk has 35 years-plus experience as a print, radio and Internet journalist and editor.