A Letter to the Parish

My Dear Brothers and Sisters of Saint Matthew’s

‘Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My Name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life’ (Luke 19. 29).

By now you will have heard of the very saddening and disappointing news from the Supreme Court of Canada. Our leave to Appeal has been dismissed with legal costs being awarded to the Diocese of New Westminster. This is certainly not what we hoped for. As hard as this is, it does end the uncertainty
that we have all been living with for a very long time. We have been in this process now for 9 years. The decision of the Supreme Court marks the end of the legal process. There are still a number of things to clear up and we sincerely hope that no further action will be brought against the Trustees. Our aim is to negotiate an orderly and Godly departure. We were called to stand my brothers and sisters, and stand we did. Now we move forward standing tall together. As I write this the Ladies are meeting for their breakfast in our Parish Hall and singing the Doxology together, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow…’ those words have echoed in this entire building for such a long time and those words we carry in our hearts as we depart. Your Clergy stand united in their desire to serve the LORD and this congregation under the authority of their Diocesan and Area Bishop in the Anglican Network in Canada. Our desire is to maintain the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3).

Our prayer all along through this long and tiresome journey is that our LORD Jesus Christ would be glorified through us and that His will would be done among us.  Our desire to be faithful to God, His Holy word and to our historic Christian tradition in communion with the majority of Anglicans worldwide
has meant that we had to be willing to make sacrifices, and at the end of the day be willing to sacrifice our beloved Church property along with all assets.
That time has now come. As I knelt in silence alone before the Altar in our Sanctuary today, the Altar where I have celebrated the Holy Eucharist for 9
years, I felt I heard The LORD say, “Take courage! Do not be afraid! Now you will see what your LORD will do. My presence will go with you and I will
give you rest”.

Over the next few days and weeks our Trustee’s, Parish Council and Transition Committee will be working to ensure an orderly departure to Grace Church. The date and details of our departure are still to be negotiated and agreed upon. There will be an information meeting for the whole congregation on Wednesday this week (June 22nd) at 7pm. Please be present if you can.

We will need to pull together to help one another practically as we pack up, as well as emotionally and spiritually as we both process and come to terms with our move and all it entails. It will not be easy for us. In the midst of our sadness and grief let us also take heart. Our loving LORD is still in
control and His plan for us is always good, to prosper us and not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29.11). We are His people and we are His witnesses, called to
be a light on a hill wherever we may meet. We are about to shine yet more brightly. How we respond to this challenge is now a part of our Christian
witness to the community.Our love and prayers are with the people of St. John’s Vancouver, The Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Matthias and St. Luke’s as they too now respond to this decision.

Let us pray for one another and in unity move forward in faith and trust and remember the words of St. Paul, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’ (Romans 8. 35, 37). As a Parishoner reminded me this week, being in the will of God is the safest place to be. As the banner in our Sanctuary declares, we will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.

With my affection and on going prayers.

Mike Stewart+

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