Packer threatened with suspension from ministry

As reported on Michael Daley’s unofficial Lambeth Conference blog, the renowned Bible scholar and teacher Dr JI Packer, aged 81, yesterday

received a letter threatening suspension from ministry by the controversial Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham.

Two weeks ago, as I reported here, the Anglican church of which Packer is a member, St John’s Shaughnessy, decided to leave Bishop Ingham’s diocese and affiliate to the Province of the Southern Cone. Several other congregations have also voted to leave this and other dioceses of the “official” Anglican Church of Canada.

It is not clear what the bishop’s charge is against Packer. It has not been reported that he took any active part in the decision at St John’s, even that he was among the overwhelming 475 to 11 majority (9 abstentions) who voted to join the Southern Cone. In Packer’s only public comment on the issue that I know about, he did not, despite his strong criticisms, announce any intention to leave the Anglican Church of Canada.

It is also not clear what Ingham’s threats can actually mean in practice. Ingham cannot strip Packer of his priesthood. He can formally prohibit Packer from ministering in those churches remaining loyal to him – but then such a prohibition could hardly be enforced in the current climate, and most of these churches would not have invited Packer anyway.

So Ingham’s threat is in fact not much more than a gesture. But what kind of gesture is it? Not a polite one, I think. It seems that Bishop Ingham, in his zeal to purge his diocese of those who disagree with his theologically liberal agenda, which includes promotion of same-sex marriage, is not prepared even to show common courtesy to an Anglican elder statesman.

Meanwhile there have been so many developments in Anglican churches in Canada, congregations leaving their dioceses and diocesan authorities attempting to stop them, that Michael Daley has set up a special blog to keep track of them. The latest news just in is excellent for at least two of the parishes that have voted to join the Southern Cone: an Ontario judge has ruled that “the parishioners … shall have exclusive use of the buildings” at least until the next hearing on 20th March.

7 thoughts on “Packer threatened with suspension from ministry

  1. This seems like such a failure in a godly resolution of conflict, especially in the fact that this matter has to be taken to a courtroom.

  2. It was not a failure of Godly resolution, but a sign. The diocese dragged these people to court, and they, the diocese, were the only ones to present their case. Read what actually happened. Amazing.

  3. Thanks, Obituary. I suppose you presuppose what I understand to have happened, that the congregations had been trying to resolve the dispute amicably but the diocese insisted on taking it to court. The congregations could have avoided being taken to court only by compromising what they believe to be the truth, for example by accepting gay marriage. Also, at least this is what they argue, they are the ones who are being faithful to traditional and biblical Anglican teaching, and by affiliating to another province of the Anglican Communion they are not leaving it. Of course the diocese’s view is different.

  4. It’s such a travesty. Those with a liberal agenda say they are more tolerant seem to be even more intolerant of any views that contradict their own. They should hold a mirror up to their own face and ask themselves who is intolerant.

  5. Update: Michael Daley reports the “charges” against Packer from his bishop:

    1. that he has publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada; and
    2. that you have sought or intend to seek admission into another religious body outside the Anglican Church of Canada.

    I have seen no public evidence of the truth of these allegations. A decision of the congregation of which he is a member is not a personal decision. Packer has until 21st April to dispute the facts. It will be interesting to see if he does.

  6. Actually money, as in the assets of Saint Hilda’s especially their land and Saint George’s beautiful church with it’s recent million dollar additions would be something any diocese with a huge deficit would not want to surrender. Pensions are at stake. But what do I know?

  7. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Packer leaves the Anglican Church of Canada

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