Green field with trees and a stone bench

Tri-diocesan talks result in two dioceses deciding to look for new bishops

By Rev. Peter Coolen
Published in the Saskatchewan Anglican
December 2023

SASKATOON — On Oct.16 and 17, members of the diocesan councils of the three Saskatchewan dioceses—Qu’Appelle, Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan—met at Queen’s House of Retreat in Saskatoon for the second of tri-diocesan meetings.

The intent of the meetings was to consider ways in which the three dioceses could work together to reduce administrative and other costs, co-ordinate and share aspects of administration and ministry and to look at the potential for reorganizing and perhaps amalgamating two or more of the dioceses.

The meetings were organized and attended by Bishop Helen Kennedy of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle, the Ven Alex Parsons, administrator for the Diocese of Saskatoon, and the Ven. Andrew Hoskin, administrator for the Diocese of Saskatchewan; the sessions were also attended by the Metropolitan, the Most Rev. Greg Kerr-Wilson.

The sessions began and closed with, and were interspersed by, a series of daily devotions and services; the sessions included discussions on themes looking for areas of common concern and areas where two or more dioceses could co-operate by adopting similar structures or even sharing systems.

For example, some sharing ideas included property and liability insurance, financial administration, paying clergy salaries, and licensing of clergy.

Combined with these issues was the discussion of potential merger of two or more dioceses and various possible models for the internal structures of these merged entities, with one of more bishops and suffragan bishops or archdeacons and regional deans with expanded roles.

It became apparent during discussions that all three dioceses wished to take advantage of the efficiency and cost reductions involved in sharing administrative functions often by adopting the “best” model already in place in one or more of the three dioceses.

However, on the subject of mergers it was decided that each diocese should discuss this in-camera and report back to the meeting as a whole as to what they each wished.

From this in-camera session it emerged that the Diocese of Saskatchewan was not interested in merging with either of the other two diocese, as it felt that its focus of emphasis on traditional Anglicanism using the Book of Common Prayer and the significant indigenous participation in its life were not reflected as strongly in the other dioceses.

In short, its culture and traditions set it apart from the other two, although it was interested in working on areas such as shared administration.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon and Qu’Appelle felt that they had many areas of commonality but that the large area resulting from the merger could not be served by a single bishop and therefore a suffragan bishop would also be required.

In effect, having to pay for two bishops negated much of the rationale for merging the dioceses, when much of the other areas of co-operation, efficiency and cost reduction did not require a merger.

Therefore, Saskatoon decided that it, too, did not wish a merger.

With Saskatchewan and Saskatoon deciding that they did not want to merge, they informed Archbishop Greg, who was present for the discussions, that they both wished to proceed separately with the process of electing a new bishop.

The archbishop stated that this process could begin as soon as each diocese gave him the request in writing.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, Saskatoon’s diocesan council will be formally presented with the decision made by our representatives of the tri-diocesan council to no longer consider merging and to advise the archbishop in writing that we wish to elect a new bishop for our diocese.

This process must begin, at the latest, by April 2024 as that is the end of the period originally provided by the archbishop for us to hold off on making a decision to elect a new bishop, while we held discussions on the potential for amalgamation.

May God bless us as we each move forward together separately.

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