TORONTO – An Anglican bishop in British Columbia has ordered a church closed after it refused to support same-sex unions and declared itself independent, Canada's National Post newspaper said Tuesday.
Despite the decision by Bishop Michael Ingham (search) to close the Holy Cross Church in Abbotsford, the Rev. James Wagner said his congregation would celebrate Mass on Christmas as planned.
"As far as the diocese is concerned, we do not exist. We are a non-entity," Wagner was quoted as saying, "but I will not abandon these people. I will continue to pastor and pray for them in the midst of this crisis."
He said Ingham's decision to close the church was a surprise because "it's so close to Christmas."
Ronald Harrison, executive archdeacon of the Diocese of New Westminster (search), was quoted as saying Holy Cross brought the closure upon itself by seeking episcopal oversight from another bishop.
By declaring itself "independent," the church lost its funding from the archdiocese and eventually Ingham had to close it, Harrison said.
Ingham's decision to sanction same-sex unions and related issues involving homosexuality have caused deep divisions in the worldwide Anglican Communion (search).
Two months ago Anglican leaders met in London at a crisis conference called largely because of dissension over the choice of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and Ingham's approval of same-sex unions.