As reported by Charles Lewis in the National Post, June 17, 2011:
The Supreme Court of Canada said Thursday it will not hear a last-ditch appeal from four dissident conservative Anglican churches in Vancouver that hoped to hold on to their buildings and land.
In November, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the highest court in the province, ruled that the properties are owned by the Diocese of New Westminster, which is part of the Anglican Church of Canada. The four churches are valued at about $20-million. Their congregations have broken with the mainstream church over same-sex marriage and other issues.
"We've always said from the get-go that we might have to choose between our faith and our buildings, and we chose our faith," said Cheryl Chang, special counsel to the Anglican Network in Canada, the umbrella group for breakaway Anglican parishes. "Part of being Christian is to sacrifice. In the Third World people are tortured and killed for their faith. Here they take away your churches."
One of the four parishes includes St. John's Shaughnessy Church, one of the largest Anglican congregations in Canada. Ms. Chang said it will be very difficult for St. John's to find a suitable building large enough to hold the nearly 1,000 parishioners who worship there every Sunday.
There are several other parishes involved in legal fights with their parishes that this case could impact, Ms. Chang said...
...It is expected that almost all of the parishioners will follow their clergy to new locations.
On the surface, the main issue between the dissident parishes and the national church has been over the blessing of same-sex unions, a practice that first began in the Vancouver under Bishop [Michael] Ingham in 2002. The breakaway churches have always said that blessing gay relationships was antithetical to Christianity and that the Bishop Ingham, and by extension the Anglican Church of Canada, had broken from the faith.
The conservative churches have also argued that the Anglican Church of Canada has drifted from orthodox Christian teaching -away from preaching the uniqueness of Christ as the way to salvation, and toward a form of Christianity meant to appease popular culture.
Ms. Chang said Thursday's decision is especially troubling because it means that any religious denomination can change theological direction and the individual parishes have no choice but to go along or leave.
In November, the B.C. Court of Appeal wrote in its decision that the Anglican Church of Canada had a right to the properties but might be doing damage to its own cause.
"[The] Bishop and the Diocesan Synod of New Westminster have chosen to pursue the matter to the extent they have -despite the opposition of many of their parishioners," the judges wrote.
The Anglican Network in Canada, which formally separated in 2007, has roughly 50 parishes, a tiny minority compared with the 2,000 parishes of the national church. The network is aligned theologically with the church in Africa, where the majority of the
world's 70 million Anglicans now reside.