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There was a terrible rainstorm on the Sunday my husband resigned from the Anglican church he had served
for nine years, and relinquished his license
as a priest with the Anglican Church of
It was one of those hot summer-day
storms that brew up in one corner of the
sky. Then the clouds lower a thousand feet
and boil over. I was walking my dog, sorting through everything that had happened
so far on that dramatic and emotional day.
Soaked to the skin, I ran home in case I
was struck by lightning – because it would
look very bad indeed if the priest’s wife
was struck by lightning on the very day
he walked away from years of ministry.
That crazy thought was the first of
many on a journey that took us out of the
denomination Brent had loved and joined
as an adult – into the waiting arms of the
Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), a
new expression of Anglicanism in Canada.
Was it about the issue? Yes and no.
Our congregation – a mix of liturgy-
loving Evangelicals and “cradle Anglicans”
– had been grappling with the issue of
same-sex blessings for a while, carefully
charting the direction taken by the Dio-
cese of Toronto.
My husband, like many “conservative”
clergy (and I use quotation marks on pur-
pose, for these labels usually fit like a bad
suit), felt that where the ship sailed on this
one mattered greatly.
Perhaps ironically it was his very iden-
tity as an Anglican – someone who knows
they are deeply connected with others
around the world – that made him care
passionately about what was happening
in our national church, and not just zoom
in on our individual congregation.
Which would have been a lot easier.
Brent’s leaving had to be sudden and
immediate – at least at that time – because
of the acrimonious nature of the relation-
ship between the two Anglican denomina-
tions, the threat of lawyers and lawsuits,
and the tussling over buildings going on
In the letter he read to the congrega-
tion – first combed over by lawyers – he
gently invited people who were interested
to come to a meeting about creating an
alternative Anglican congregation in the
area, an ANiC church plant.
People felt sad, angry, relieved, upset, be-
trayed and exhilarated. Our phone rang off
the hook. I began to answer it gingerly, not
knowing what I would find on the other end.
Many joined us in the ANiC plant.
Many did not.
Friends surprised us. Friends dismayed
us. I guess we dismayed them.
Those who came along astonished me
with their courage. Those who didn’t, I
miss to this day.
Kind people said Brent was brave. We
knew better. It was the people who came
along who were the real brave ones.
It amazed me that we found ourselves
(us, so normal and nice!) in the middle
of a church split – because that is what it
was – no matter how we try to dress it up
in a nicer outfit.
It was a sorrow to me, to us. I had to
trust both my husband and my God like
In the early days, as people I loved
both came alongside and dropped away
for good, I read a psalm each night in bed
A painful and marvel-filled journey from
one church to another. By Karen Stiller