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Bishop of Caledonia in ACoC cancels electing synod for a bishop coadjutor

Bishop of Caledonia in ACoC cancels electing synod for a bishop coadjutor

The Diocese of Caledonia is in the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and the Yukon of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC). The bishop diocesan is the Rt Revd William Anderson. Bishop Anderson is ready to retire. In SEP 2015 the bishop announced that he planned to retire in the fall of 2016. Earlier this year the bishop called a special diocesan synod with a two-fold purpose, to pass a canon law which would allow the diocese to elect a bishop coadjutor and to then have the election. However, an anonymous member of one of the parishes in the diocese objected, stating that the election would violate diocesan canon law. Subsequently, the bishop has canceled the announced electing synod. The parishioner contended that approving the new canon and then electing the bishop coadjutor in the same synod violated the necessity of 90-day notice for the election.

Bishop Anderson felt that the parishioner misunderstood the canon law, but has cancelled the synod anyway. He had called the electing synod to allow an overlap period for the two bishops to work together before +Anderson’s retirement. Bishop Anderson had sought the advice of the bishop metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province, Archbishop John Privett, as well as the chancellors of the province and the diocese. All agreed that the announcement of the synod three months prior to the synod met the canonical requirement.

Bishop Anderson has put off his retirement until 31 DEC 2016 and has stated that the diocese can start the search for a new bishop after the New Year. He believes that the objection was actually for other motives. +Anderson believes that the real objection was to the election of his successor while he was still in office, fearing that he could influence who it was that the diocese elected. There may be truth to the bishop’s concern, as an unnamed member of the diocese contacted the Anglican Journal, the publication of the ACoC, and voiced that very belief.

The issue boils down to same-sex marriage. Bishop Anderson is a conservative who doesn’t support marriage equality in the ACoC. The woman who contacted the Anglican Journal contended that +Anderson’s presence at the convention could influence the synod to elect a bishop with similar conservative views.

I’m thinking perhaps that there’s a sense that they want to get another bishop in of the same mindset of Anderson, to carry on the legacy.
– Anonymous parishioner

The bishop doesn’t agree.

I had arranged for the metropolitan to preside at the electoral synod so as to ensure impartiality. Given that nominations come from any Anglican within the diocese, and that parishes elect their synod delegates, I fail to see how I could influence the synod, especially since I have been scrupulous about offering no opinions on what is needed in my successor or any of the nominations that had been received.
– The Rt Revd William Anderson

As it is, the bishop is retiring before an election and under the canons of the diocese, the bishop metropolitan assumes episcopal responsibility for the diocese until a new bishop is elected. Until the election, the metropolitan will appoint an administrator for the diocese. With the 90-day requirement from announcement to synod, the electing synod is likely to be held sometime in APR 2017.

The story was originally reported by the Anglican Journal. The photo is also from the Journal.

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JC Fisher

While it's impossible to judge this situation from a distance, my strong inclination is for we who support marriage equality to be BOLD and forthright about working for God's Justice&Compassion in the church, not making anonymous complaints and letters. Would this retiring bishop influence the election of his successor? Perhaps (I don't know of him at all). But if that's the objection, SAY SO!

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James Pratt

I don't personally know anything about the situation in Caledonia, but in some of the "conservative" dioceses of the Canadian church, there is some heavy-handed, top-down leadership, and the clergy are often of the same mind as the bishop, with limited room for open dissent.

I'm not in favour of anonymous complaints, but perhaps this person felt she needed to keep her head down, so that her priest would not block her election as a synod delegate.

Caledonia did have one lay delegate to General Synod vote yes on the amendment to the marriage canon, so at least the laity is not uniformly of the same mind as the bishop and clergy.

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