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Diocesan status given to Canada’s Central Interior parishes

Posted on: November 16, 2015 10:53 AM
St Paul's Cathedral, Kamloops, is the seat of the former Bishops of Cariboo
Photo Credit: St Paul's Cathedral
Related Categories: Canada, Cariboo, Central Interior

[ACNS] The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) have been recognised as a “territory” with the status of a diocese – 15 years after their former diocese of Cariboo was forced to close.

The Council of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada met at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, over the weekend; and the status of the APCI parishes was one of the items on the agenda.

The Council were given a summary by Chancellor David Jones of how APCI came into being. The former diocese of Cariboo was involved in a series of litigations involving abuses at the former St George’s Indian Residential School in Lytton, British Columbia. In 2000 the diocese was ordered to pay an undisclosed sum in compensation to a former student who had been the victim of abuse more than thirty years earlier.

The compensation award effectively bankrupted the diocese and it was forced to close down at the end of 2001, although it still exists as a defunct legal entity. The parishes were able to continue their ministry and eventually became known as APCI. In 2004 they were given a bishop.

And now, the Council of the General Synod has approved a request, by consensus, that the APCI should be recognised as a “territory” with the status of a diocese – a structure permitted by the Canons of the Anglican Church of Canada. The new structure will allow the territory to full representation on the General Synod and the right to elect its own bishops.

The APCI covers some 65,000 square miles in the heart of British Columbia. Following the dissolution of the old diocese, the parishes agreed amongst themselves arrangements for payroll and Christian Sharing (apportionment), and formed a constitutive assembly, a coordinating council and an administration committee; as well as deaneries and regional councils.

In May, APCI’s assembly voted to regularize its status. This was agreed by the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon in the Autumn; but because the decision effectively transferred territory from the former diocese of Cariboo to the new territory, it couldn’t proceed with the approval of the Council of the General Synod. This weekend’s decision takes effect immediately.

Chancellor David Jones explained why the Church was being asked to approve the recognition of a territory rather than a diocese. “There is a feeling that the diocese of Cariboo had a history that was unfortunate,” he said. “To create a new diocese – by the name of a diocese – called ‘the diocese of the Central Interior’ . . . for good reason APCI and the provincial synod decided not to do that,” Anglican Journal reports.