Unofficial report on the Essentials Conference June 16-18, 2005, Toronto

by Tony Copple

Press Conference

Anglican Renewal Ministries table

Ruth Fazal, worship leader

George Sinclair

Charlie Masters

Archbishop Greg Venables

JI Packer

Network meeting


In a glorious celebration of the founding principles of our Anglican Church, 800 pilgrims made Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto "one of the holiest places on Earth" for three days in June 2005. This was the sequel to The Way Forward conference in Ottawa 9 months before. After conception there, the Federation and the Network were delivered here to potential members as storefronts to Anglican Essentials Canada (and your correspondent was the second to register for membership in the Network). Worship leaders for the conference were Ruth Fazal and Ian Sadler.

A recurring theme of the Conference was the tenet that the true faith does not adapt to changing culture or fashion, but rather that the world should anchor itself to the never changing Word of God. In the past 20 years we have seen a serious erosion of the beliefs promoted by the churches of North America as their leaders are subjected to the pressures of multiculturalism (perfectly legitimate), New Age thought and the gay revolution. Their leaders have bent under such pressure in a misguided attempt to adapt our faith to the times(!)

What value a religion that alters to suit the needs of people? Indeed, what value a religion that promotes the idea that being a "good person" is the route to heaven? Instead our faith (alone) sets little store on the good or bad works done in the lives of us sinners, but instead holds up before everything the unique role of the cross and Christ crucified for their power of forgiveness of our manifold sins and wickedness.

The decay which began to take serious toll in most of our seminaries over the last 20 years is now an epidemic. It would take another 20 years to rectify if we had the will. The blessing of same-sex marriages is the latest but not the last target of liberal leaders. Those very leaders bear responsibility for false doctrines, totally at odds with both the old testament and the teaching of Jesus.

The St. Michael Report of The Primate's Theological Commission of the ACC, published May 7, 2005 (see references below) was welcomed by several speakers. However, Essentials has recommended some caution in relation to its findings. The report concluded that the blessings of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, (rather than a matter of pastoral care) thereby giving General Synod, not diocesan synods and bishops the final authority to decide on whether they should be allowed in parishes or not. Any subsequent move seeking the approval of same-sex blessings within the church would require the adoption or amendment of a canon in which case the vote of a two-thirds majority of each of the three orders of bishops, clergy and laity of two successive General Synods (in 2007 and 2010) must be obtained.

The Federation is a haven for those who feel uncomfortable with the direction the Anglican Church of Canada is going. It will work for renewal within the ACC; a turning back from its liberal position. The Network is another haven for those who feel that the current situation of the ACC, which like the Episcopal Church of USA is under suspension from the Wordwide Anglican Communion, places them in impaired communion with the ACC. Essentials has already spawned mini-Essentials grass roots groups across the country, allowing individuals and parishes to coalesce around them, and we expect and welcome the formation of many more such groups. Individuals and parishes within these local groups may have allegiances to either the Federation or the Network, the latter tending to appeal to "orphans" from liberal parishes, and all including the undecided uniting for mutual support, prayer, worship and study. Parishes wishing to join the Network are encouraged to seek legal advice from the Network as a first step. Should the ACC officially declare the intention to "walk apart" from the Worldwide Anglican Communion, the Network becomes the escape vehicle by which orthodox parishes and individuals will receive alternative episcopal oversight, and become a continuing church outside the jurisdiction of the ACC.

In several most encouraging statements from speakers from abroad, notably Archbishop Gregory Venables of The Southern Cone, and Bishop Bob Duncan of Anglican Mission in America, we heard that we must never feel we are alone in this struggle. Although a small group in Canada, we are supported, prayed for and loved by millions of Christians in the Worldwide Communion as we remain faithful to the Word of God. We must remember that we are not going anywhere; we are staying where we have always been. It is the ACC that appears likely to move away.

The Conference was blessed by the presence of renowned theologian J.I Packer, who was presented with an award of appreciation, and who spoke to us in gentle but very serious terms (not without humour) of the crisis we are in.

Speakers at the conference - in order of appearance
Rev. George Sinclair, Bishop Colin R Johnson, Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Malcolm Harding, Rev David Curry, Rev Dr. Murray Henderson, Rev Dr. J.I. Packer, Rev David Short, Rev Dr. Gary Thorne, Archbishop Gregory Venables, Bishop Don Harvey, Bishop Ron Ferris, Michael Edward, Cheryl Chang, Joyce Lee, Claus Lenk, Rev Peter Klenner, Todd Cantelon, Rev Canon Dr. George Sumner, and Rev Canon Dr. Bill Atwood.

Reports on the conference
Essentials e-mailed report June 21, 2005

The Anglican Network in Canada - The Network

  • The Network - where can be found newsletters which detail subsequent progress.

    Other references

  • Commission finds SSB are a matter of doctrine rather than of pastoral care
     - May 7 (Link no longer available)
  • St. Michael Report - Comment by Christian Today
  • St. Michael Report The Primate's Theological Commission of the ACC
        - May 7, 2005
  • The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes - Moderator:
       Bishop Bob Duncan
  • The Zacchaeus Fellowship - men and women who hold to the church's historic
       view on sexuality despite present or former struggles with same-sex
       Leader, Rev. Dawn McDonald

    Pre-conference press release: Download pfd file

    Same-sex Blessings