Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Bishop of the Arctic denounces colleagues over rejection of Jake Worley

Charges of cant and hypocrisy have been leveled by Bishop David Parsons against the bishops of British Columbia and Yukon

Charges of cant and hypocrisy have been leveled by the Bishop of the Arctic against the bishops of British Columbia and Yukon after they repudiated the election of the Rev. Jacob Worley as Bishop of Caledonia.  On 19 May 2017 the Rt. Rev. David Parsons, Bishop of the Arctic, released copies of two letters he had written to the Most Rev. John Privett, Archbishop of Kootenay and Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon, and the four other bishops of the province asking them to rethink their decision.

On 16 May Bishop Parsons wrote: “I implore you to reverse your decision of objection to    the episcopal election of the Rev. Jacob Worley in the Diocese of Caledonia.”

The decision to overturn the election was “ungracious and calls our church’s credibility into question,” he wrote, adding there was a whiff of hypocrisy over the affair. Repudiating Bishop-elect Worley for holding beliefs contrary to the “Doctrine and Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada”, when they themselves propounded teachings on human sexuality and Christian ethics that were at variance with the teachings of the wider Anglican Communion.

The rejection of Bishop-elect Worley “could be seen” as an attempt to “further silence the conservative voice” within the Anglican Church of Canada, as the “mask of civility and tolerance” had now been removed.

While the bishops’ cited Bishop-elect Worley’s beliefs as ground for rejection, they also questioned his qualifications to serve as bishop, noting that when he had left the Episcopal Church to join the Anglican Mission in America, he had been defrocked by the Diocese of the Rio Grande for abandoning the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

He had not been re-ordained by the Church of the Province of Rwanda, but issued only a license to officiate. And it was this license that was used to establish his clerical credentials with the Church of Ireland and Anglican Church of Canada.

Bishop Parsons wrote this argument was specious, noting the credentials committee of the 2016 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada had “endorsed and declared the Rev. Jacob Worley to be a priest in good standing” in the ACC. Critics of the decision have also noted the province had ample time to review the credentials of the candidates before the 22 April 2017 election.

A number of provinces of the Anglican Communion have declined to recognize the purported defrocking of Episcopal clergy under the “abandonment canon.” The Church of England has declined to recognize the deposition of the former Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

On 17 May Archbishop Privett responded to Bishop Parsons’ letter, stating they would not reconsider. The decision to reject Bishop-elect Worley had been “open, respectful and I believe, responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit,” the archbishop said.

He added the decision was not based upon partisan considerations.”I can assure you the decision was not based on any particular theological views.”

Bishop Parsons questioned the assumption made by the bishops in British Columbia that the Holy Spirit was speaking to them, but had not spoken to the Caledonia Synod. On 17 May 2017 he responded writing: “Are the Bishops who oppose Rev. Jacob Worley 100% sure that the priests and the people of Caledonia have not heard from God the Holy Spirit? If you continue in your determination to oppose Rev. Worley, I must ask by which process will you expect the Holy Spirit to now speak through Caledonia or will you come up with an entirely different process to elect a favourable bishop?”

Schism may lay ahead for the ACC Bishop Parsons warned, in light of the actions taken by the BC House of Bishops. “The revisionist determination to resist the reasonable, traditional, doctrines of our Anglican Church of Canada has caused the majority of the Anglican Communion to question our place within the Communion,” he wrote.

The decision of the BC & Yukon House of Bishops is “sending a very loud message to the world and to the church. I don’t think I need to say that that message is?”, Bishop Parsons said.

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