"motion to accept or reject the offer of temporary Alternative Episcopal Oversight" from the Diocese of the Southern Cone, an Anglican diocese based out of Argentina.
The reason to seek such oversight, in a nutshell, is that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of New Westminster, who oversees St John's, have been "walking apart from the Anglican Communion." The parting comes primarily in regards to different views of the authority of scripture, of which the "tip-of-the-iceberg issue" is the blessing of same-sex unions. Much of he Episcopal church in the United States is in the same boat as much of the Anglican Church of Canada in regard to these issues.
A letter (dated 6 February) by the current Bishop, Michael Ingham, was distributed to members of St John's as they entered the meeting describing the proceedings as "schismatic," threatening "immediate termination of license or removal from office" as well as the possibility of civil proceedings were directed at St John's clergy, wardens and trustees, and noting the diocese's "fiduciary responsibility to preserve and protect the assets of the Church for its future ministry", ie, take St John's financial and property assets out the church's control.
After 5 years of battling with the Bishop, having no episcopal oversight, not being able to hire new ordained staff, and having so much of the church's energy directed towards this crisis, St John's came together (for a 3 hour meeting) and voted on the motion, to either accept or reject the Southern Cone's offer of episcopal oversight and in doing so leave the Anglican Church of Canada, with the following outcome:
- Vote "YES" = 475 (96% accepted the Southern Cone's offer)
- Vote "NO" = 11 (2%)
- "Abstain" from vote = 9 (2%)
Being an Aussie and only in Vancouver for a limited time, in some ways I feel like an outsider at St John's (even though I work there). From that outside perspective, tonight I witnessed and joined-in to vote with a congregation who chose to define themselves as part of Christ's church, who together are desiring to honor God's word and seek the Lord first ahead of the possible legal, financial and leadership risks that lay ahead. It could be costly discipleship for St John's, but is there any other road to pick up a cross and follow Jesus down?