Dear Bishop-Elect Lynne McNaughton
I am saddened that the Anglican Church has missed an opportunity to support faithful witness in this matter and instead is supporting the 'party line' of the United Church Head Office.
Your communique simply repeated the stonewalling that concerned United Church congregations have received from the head office,
The various empty claims include:
1.) "This decision does not change United Church of Canada Doctrine in any way."
As I am sure you are aware, the doctrine and polity of the United Church is only as good as the willingness of those in power to follow them. The Toronto Conference Decision effectively redefines ordination by ignoring doctrine and polity. Gretta Vosper did not pass the test of suitability for ministry when examined by Toronto Conference's own Interview board. It is questionable whether she even qualifies to be a member of the United Church in good standing. There is no need to change policy or doctrine when you can just ignore it with impunity.
2.) "This decision does not set a precedent"
None of us have any idea what this decision is, as it is wrapped in a nondisclosure agreement. but it is the contention of General Council Executive that the non-diclosure agreement by its very nature can not be changed or challenged. So only two things are clear: a) It is now possible to remain an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada without holding any of its doctrines, denying the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and without practicing any of its sacraments. b) any decision which results in violation of the doctrine or policy of the United Church can be made inviolate by wrapping it in a non disclosure agreement. These are unusual precedents, but precedents they are.
3)"This decision was taken by a regional council, not by the National Church"
It is true that the oversight of ordination is exercised at a regional level, This normally functions through trust that each regional council will do their job, faithfully implementing the same standards nationwide. When this trust is broken, there are appeal processes which can be launched. The National Office has been asked to take whatever steps are possible to ensure that the meaning of ordination is upheld, but thus far it has been deaf to all appeals, merely advising individual congregations to write to other bodies, such as the new Office of Vocation and the new Shining Waters Regional Council. Each of thses bodies has already taken decisions not to act on this issue.
It could be hoped that our ecumenical partners would come to the aid of our church by signalling the importance of maintaining meaningful standards for ordination .
I would hope that as a denomination you would reconsider your position on this issue, and urge the National Office United Church protect its ecumenical relationships by making every effort to uphold the doctrines, ordination standards and sacremental practices which allow us to continue in ecumenical partnerships,
Rev. Brian Wilkie
St Andrew's Church, Rockland
P.O. Box 509
739 St. Jean St. Rockland,