Packer leaves the Anglican Church of Canada

It was perhaps inevitable considering the action being taken against him, and indeed many may have thought it had happened months ago. But, according to a report from today’s Vancouver Sun posted by Suzanne, it is only this week that J.I. Packer has officially announced that he is leaving the Anglican Church of Canada and joining the Province of the Southern Cone, under Bishop Gregory Venables. Packer’s church, St John’s Shaughnessy, voted in February to affiliate to the Southern Cone. Now Packer is personally making the same move.

Michael Daley’s Lambeth Conference Canada blog has more background on this story. The announcement seems to have been first made on Monday in a press release which Daley apparently posts in full. The press release quotes from a response by Packer and ten other priests and deacons to their former bishop Michael Ingham, in which they deny the charges made against them, and write:

We have… determined that in order to uphold our ordination vows, we must leave your jurisdiction, and by this letter, we hereby relinquish the licences we hold from the Bishop of New Westminster. Each of us will receive a licence to continue our present parish ministries from Bishop Donald Harvey, who, as you know, is under the jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone. In this way, we will be able to continue our Anglican ministry within the Anglican Church, under the jurisdiction of and in communion with those who remain faithful to historic, orthodox Anglicanism and as part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.

Oddly, Daley mentioned neither Packer nor leaving the Anglican Church of Canada in his post title, and did not post this on his main Lambeth Conference blog. Anglican Mainstream reports the same story with more detail, noting that David Short is also among the clergy who resigned, but again without naming Packer or referring to resignations in a post title; in another post reporting the resignation of the eleven clergy, Packer is not named at all.

So, bizarrely, it seems to have taken Suzanne and a secular newspaper to make this internationally important news break outside Canada. Well, Hugh Bourne here in England did pick up the story on Wednesday, but has received (or allowed) no comments or pingbacks on it. And already on Tuesday Babyblue in Washington D.C. had clearly reported the story. But strangely it didn’t get into the corner of the blogosphere which I inhabit.

20 thoughts on “Packer leaves the Anglican Church of Canada

  1. Haven’t received any comments or pings… I was expecting your link to create a pingback comment, but WordPress isn’t having that! So I’m now getting your link off Technorati… what a fuss!

    This is big news! It’s the start of “the split”… which makes it surprising there’s not more coverage either in print or online.

  2. Pingback: JI PACKER LEAVES THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA : LambethConference.Net/Canada - Easter III

  3. I was at the licensing of the Canadian Anglican Network clergy by Greg Venables of the Southern Cone this afternoon. It was an excellent service.

    I am not personally either supportive or non-supportive of this move, but went as an interested observer and as a friend and relative of others there.

    There about 14 bishops from around the world. Venables, along with the two Canadian network bishops, Harvey and Harding, commissioned a group of about 25 men and 5 women from across Canada.

    The Southern Cone does not ordain women but the Canadian female ministers whose churches wanted to join the network were accepted, and these women were licensed and commissioned today under Harvey and Harding.

    Venables gave a heart warming and positive sermon, but the highlight was when someone’s cellphone went off. He said “Is that my pacemaker or your computer? I hope I remembered to put new batteries in my pacemaker after all the jumping up and down last night.” My daughter said that Venables was a big hit at the youth night on Friday.

  4. Thanks, Hugh, Kevin and Sue. Yes, this is big news, and I too am surprised more has not been made of it. Perhaps more reports are appearing now that Packer and co have been licensed into the Southern Cone, and now that my post has attracted 39 hits.

    WordPress seems very hit and miss about sending pingbacks. I notice that even with pingbacks to my own posts. From this post I got pingbacks to my Packer and Short posts but not to my St John’s post. I have no idea why. But between WordPress stats and Google Alerts I think I pick up most posts that link to mine.

    Sue, thanks for the report from the meeting. Did I tell you all that I knew Venables’ father? When I knew him he was a retired minister, living 50 yards from my parents in Kent, who often “gave a heart warming and positive sermon” when the village vicar was away.

  5. Perhaps the reason Jim Packers name wasn’t mentioned initially is that he is the meekest of men and doesn’t like to make a big noise about his own importance.

    I respect Jim Packer (although I disagree with him on Calviism and the ordination of women, among other things), but I regret this move. I’m not quite sure where evangelical Anglicans got this sudden interest in being in theological agreement with their bishops. None of our eighteenth century evangelical forebears lost any sleep over the fact that so many of their bishops were either political time-servers, or Deists, or both! They simply saw the Church of England as a good boat to fish from, and got on with it. That’s what I intend to do in the Anglican Church of Canada. I have my disagreements with my own church, but I’d have disagreements with any other denomination I jumped to as well – even the province of the southern cone.

  6. Tim,

    I am personally uncomfortable with the way Jim responded in the interview with the Vancouver Sun. I attended the ceremony yesterday but I was also very happy to attend my local Anglican Church, which is not part of the Anglican Network, this morning. This is a very complex issue and ultimately I did not feel that I wanted to be part of the Network.

  7. Thanks, Tim and Sue. Note that by reporting this news I am not necessarily supporting Packer’s move. And I agree with Tim rather than Packer on Calvinism and ordination of women.

    But, from what I can see, there is a significant difference between the situations in Edmonton and in New Westminster: in the latter diocese, but not in the former, conservative clergy are being forced to conform in matters like gay weddings, and disciplined if they step out of line. It is this kind of intolerance which has forced people like Packer and Short to make this move, if their consciences are not to be violated.

  8. Peter, I’m not in New West as you point out so I may not be aware of all the nuances there. But if you imply that conservative clergy are being forced to conduct gay weddings, that is not the case. In fact, strictly speaking, no diocese in Canada allows gay weddings. New West is the only diocese that allows (not requires) what they call ‘the blessing of same-sex unions’, and no priest is forced to conduct such a blessing against their conscience.

  9. They are not even forced to ordain women. There are some other technical issues but Tim is correct. Also the term gay wedding is never used in the church.

    A marriage ceremony is a sacrament and cannot be altered by the diocese. The same sex blessing exists at the level of the liturgy – it is a prayer and so it falls within diocesan jurisdiction. This difference between sacrament and blessing is not insignificant.

  10. Tim and Sue, thanks for the clarification. I know that Short and Packer were being forced to do something against their conscience, and not just recognise women clergy. Do you know what it was?

  11. My understanding is that new clergy in the diocese must agree to conform to and accept same-sex blessing in theory. However, I also unserstand that a letter went out to all the parishes and a certain number (6 or 8) agreed to be parishes that would support same-sex blessing, and this blessing has only been performed in those places that agree to have them.

    Clearly there is something documented that Dr. Packer and the other Network clergy could not agree too.

    However, my point is this,

    Here is Dr. Packer’s justification,

    Opening his English Standard Version of the Bible, of which he was chief editor, Packer read out passages from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, in which the apostle Paul compares “men who lie with men” to drunkards, thieves, slanderers and adulterers, none of whom will enter the kingdom of heaven.

    I am sure that you will understand that a person of my age is fully aware that I attend church all the time with “drunkards,” etc. etc. etc.

    So now, I am attending a church that I can walk to so I don’t have to drive on Sundays. We all have to draw the line somewhere.

    I am certain that documents are available somewhere on the internet, but I don’t want to investigate any further.

  12. Thanks, Sue. Eight plus a close bracket turns into a smiley, sorry.

    If, like Jesus, we count remarried divorcees as adulterers, then they are also listed in 1 Corinthians 6. And there are plenty of slanderers, and thieves from the tax department, in every church. So why treat homosexual partnerships differently from remarriage after divorce? See this post.

  13. Sue, I’m all in favour of attending a church you can walk to. There are no perfect churches, and worshipping locally seems like a good idea to me. Very Benedictine, in fact!

  14. Tim and Sue, I agree on walking to church. In fact my church is so near that I could probably walk there on my knees, taking after some other Catholic order I think. But then I don’t want the neighbours to think I am totally crazy!

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