ANiC Parishes file application for Leave to Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada

Posted on January 15, 2011 
Filed under News

Parishes File Application for Leave to Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada

News Release from the Anglican Network in Canada

14 January 2011

“Today, the Trustees of four Vancouver-area Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) churches filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, the BC Court of Appeal decision (November 15, 2010) which removed their right to use their church buildings and awarded the church properties to the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) Diocese of New Westminster. The four churches are St John’s (Shaughnessy), St Matthews (Abbotsford), Good Shepherd (Vancouver), and St Matthias & St Luke’s (Vancouver).   

The Anglican Communion is in the midst of a worldwide split due to deep and profound theological differences between the more liberal and conservative (or orthodox) member churches.  ANiC members, while in the minority in Canada, are theologically aligned with the worldwide majority.

The Trustees submit the Court of Appeal was correct in holding that the church properties are held on religious purpose trusts for Anglican ministry, but that it erred in finding that Anglican ministry is as defined by a majority in the ACC, and in awarding the properties to the ACC Diocese.

“The Court of Appeal acknowledged that the awarding of these properties to the Diocese of New Westminster could well mean that the churches would have “vastly reduced or non-existent congregations””, said Cheryl Chang, Special Counsel to ANiC.  “But this result actually serves to defeat the religious purpose and results in the trust property being empty or underused. The evidence at trial showed the awarding of the properties to the ANiC congregations would mean that the original purposes of Anglican Ministry would continue to be fulfilled in those church properties.  In contrast, the Diocese is in a process of closing and selling churches.”

The Diocese led no evidence at trial of any need for these buildings. In addition, an approximately $2.2 M bequest was awarded to the ANiC congregation of the Church of the Good Shepherd because the trial judge found that it was unlikely the Diocese would have any need for a building for the Chinese community, which was a term of the trust.  The Court of Appeal upheld this part of the trial judgment.

Although impossible to predict the timing, a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on whether they will allow the appeal will likely take a few months.

You can read the Trustees’ Memorandum of Argument on the ANiC website. (1.2MB PDF file.)”

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