Dear friends,

February 16 is sort of a big deal for Messiah. This the last of five blogs to mark this date. The blogs are entitled, “Looking back and praying forward.”

On 16 February 2008, at an official meeting of the church, 98% of the church voted to separate from the Diocese of Ottawa (and The Anglican Church of Canada, hereafter referred to as ACoC) and connected to a faithful Anglican body, in this case, The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone – that is Anglican congregations in the
southern part of South America. We had our vote on a Saturday evening. This meant two things. First, it made us the second church in Canada to leave the ACoC. Second, it meant we did not know whether we’d be able to enter our building to worship the next morning. Why was this?

The ACoC had made it clear that it would not act graciously and allow churches who wanted to maintain historic, biblical Christianity and stay Anglican to “leave” with their buildings and assets. The ACoC could have said, “we have changed our doctrine and our practice, so, those who desire to continue in the old-fashioned ways are welcome to leave in peace. We hope one day we’ll be together again.” Instead, the ACoC had pledged to a “scorched-earth” policy of seeking all property and assets – every last penny. Furthermore, even though their actions were not canonically valid, they stripped all clergy who left of their status as an ordained presbyter. I received an official letter from the chancellor that I was de-frocked – despite the fact that I was under a new Anglican bishop and my old diocese had no authority to “strip” me of anything.

So, we voted as we did, knowing that, from an earthly perspective, we could lose everything. The next morning we did worship in our building. We’ve always believed that the Ottawa Diocese canons and Canadian law did not give the diocese the authority to seize the property. By the way, we used to own the building on the corner of King Edward and Daly – St Alban’s Church.

Some other time I will blog about the rest of the story. For now, I will say that eight months after we voted, the church now called St Peter and St Paul’s also voted to separate from the ACoC and come into the Anglican Network in Canada. We were both sued and in the spring of 2011 we reached an out-of-court settlement with our former diocese. This meant all legal proceedings would stop. We agreed to walk away from our building on the condition the other church would be able to keep their building. Our vote on this matter was 100% in favour.

On July 1, 2011 we change dour name to Church of the Messiah and we began Sunday morning worship in The Ottawa Little Theatre. The whole congregation left.

The Lord has been faithful. We are still learning to be a church without owning a building – a church re-plant. Pray we will look forward with hope, seeking to know the Lord’s will for us and then walk in His will to bring Him glory and praise. Pray we will life Jesus high in Ottawa and to the ends of the earth. Pray He will build us into a prayerful, Bible-teaching evangelical church in the heart of the city with a heart for the city and the world.

George+