To Our Friends in the Anglican Church of Canada
We do not wish our decision to leave the ACC to in any way imply that those who remain should leave as well or see this as an indictment of their own faith. In fact, we encourage you to stay as long as you feel called to stay. Our path is not the only one that God is calling his people to follow.
We greatly appreciate the many faithful Anglican Christians we have known and had the privilege of ministering among. We wish them nothing but “Godspeed!”. We only hope that our leaving may be an opportunity for any who may have not given these matters much consideration to do so now by taking a clear-eyed view of what the ACC has become in reality and come to their own conclusions. For those who are willing to make this effort we humbly offer George’s book: Two Religions, One Church for a fuller exposition of most of what expressed below. It is freely available here on-line.
Our dispute is with the powers that be and the overall condition of the ACC. Not only is it an organization we feel no longer able to support but also it is something we feel that actually hinders the work of the Gospel. It is not without deep anguish that we are walking away from a denomination with which we have been aligned for most (George) or all (Deborah) of our lives.
We have come to the sad conclusion that the ACC has, disqualified itself from being the legitimate current incarnation of the Church that was founded in 1893 upon the Solemn Declaration, the Creeds and the 39 Articles. For several generations, the leadership of the ACC has taken the organization in directions contrary to these foundations. In our judgment it has, barring an unprecedented act of God, gone past the point of no return.
In fact, the ACC has no right to be called a “church” at all according to its own founding documents. The 39 Articles (still deceptively claimed as “what we believe” on the official website of the ACC) proclaim the visible Church of Christ to be: “a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached”. As a whole, in actual reality on the ground, the ACC does not even believe there is such a thing as “the pure Word of God”. Whatever it is proclaiming, it is at best only a selective and distorted portion of what the Bible proclaims.
The ACC does not know and cannot articulate just what it truly believes or disbelieves. It is content to hide behind its “historic documents” while permitting a wide variety of contrary and incompatible theologies among its clergy and leaders. The idea of “doctrine” as a body of shared beliefs about God and salvation is quite impossible within such a “church”. Instead. it has encouraged and tolerated “strange doctrines”, it has ignored canon law, and it has done its best effectively to silence the voices within it that are trying to bring it back to its true self. To remain loyal to such an institution has become, for us, a bridge too far.
There are a number of things that have forced this decision upon us, including the following:
1. The above-mentioned developments in the the ACC have made it impossible for George to remain faithful to his vows as a priest in the Church of God and “conform to the Doctrine, Worship and Discipline of the ACC”. It is our conviction that none of these actually exist as definable entities and it would be foolish and deceptive for George to pretend that they do.
2. In the wake of the last General Synod which failed to pass a change in the Marriage Canon, a number of bishops have proceeded, with the compliance of almost all of their colleagues, blatantly to defy Canon Law by permitting Same-Sex “Marriages” in their dioceses. By its willingness to ignore its own laws, the ACC has forfeited any right to be taken seriously as a coherent organization. It has no law other than what those in power choose to enforce. Which means that it has no law at all.
3. The ACC is in calamitous decline, but its leadership seems utterly incapable of mobilizing itself to address this pending disaster. Its only response is to recommit itself to continue in the direction it has been going for some time. It simply cannot bring itself to face the possibility that its own agenda has contributed mightily to this decline. To remain in such an organization seems utterly futile.
4. Linda Nicholls, in her role as Primate of the ACC, has sent the Canadian Justice Minister a letter in favour of Bill C-6 which bans vaguely defined “conversion therapy”, and was key signatory to the Global Declaration “Declaring the Sanctity of Life and the Dignity of All” to the same end. It is difficult not to see this as a clear signal that she will not to support or defend her conservative clergy who, although naturally opposed to any therapy “without consent”, dare to teach traditional Christian sexual morality to their congregations or encourage anyone to leave the same-sex lifestyle even if they wish to do so. If they are charged for so doing under C-6, her actions may make such clergy unable defend themselves as conscientious Anglican believers. Until she makes it absolutely clear that she will be Primate of all Canada and fully defend her conservative clergy, the ACC will be a very “unsafe space” for them. Given her stated public stance and personal beliefs, this is extremely unlikely.
5. Because of the way the ACC is structured, the national church automatically gets a small portion of every dollar given to the local parish. This is how it is able to finance its various programs and pay for the stipends of its officials and staff, including the Primate. Since we are of the opinion that these are generally working against biblical Christianity, we don’t see how we can put any portion of our tithes and offerings at their disposal. This would be like paying somebody, not only to do us harm, but also, and more importantly, to hinder the cause of Christ. For this reason, we find ourselves unable to belong to and support any ACC parish in spite of the fact that it itself may be doing Gospel work at the local level.
We feel we have no choice but to leave. If the ACC was being faithful to Christ and to the Word but still in decline, we would be proud to go down with the ship. But that is just not the case. Nor do we seek to avoid judgment for our complicity in its unfaithfulness. That is in God’s hands and he is a God of mercy. But we can repent and seek to live a new life and that will require another context.
Of course, many and perhaps all of you reading this will disagree with our decision and the reasons for it. We are only human, and to err is indeed human. We also recognize and respect that some may generally agree with us but still feel called of God to remain in the ACC. It may also be that the Lord will, in his sovereign power, revive the Anglican Church of Canada and bring it back to its biblical foundations. Indeed, nothing would please us more and we will continue to pray to that end.
But for now, it is farewell and Godspeed.
George and Deborah