"On Jan. 3 , British Columbia Bishop James Cowan announced he has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions in response to a request made by diocesan synod in March 2010". "Blessings will be subject to guidelines -- among these, that they will be granted only in parishes 'where a majority decision of Vestry requests such a status from the bishop'. The parish must also make its request to the bishop in writing, and such a request must be renewed each time a new incumbent is appointed and takes office. In his guidelines, Cowan emphasized that a blessing should not be construed as a solemnization of matrimony in the church. 'The Anglican Church of Canada does not recognize as marriage civil contracts between persons of the same gender', he wrote. Only incumbents of parishes where permission for blessings is granted will be permitted to bless. Cowan has authorized the blessing rite of the diocese of New Westminster for use in his diocese. No member of the diocese, lay or ordained, shall be required to act against their conscience on the matter of same-sex blessings".
"The bishop of the Anglican diocese of British Columbia, James Cowan, has announced his resignation effective this Aug. 31  in order to retire. Cowan's resignation has been accepted by the House of Bishops and the metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia. Cowan has served as bishop of the Victoria-based diocese for the past nine years. Installed as the 12th bishop of British Columbia in 2004, Cowan worked to transform the structures of the diocese, saying change was necessary in order for the church to be relevant. He emphasized that the restructuring plan was not merely in response to declining membership but was focused on new ministries and evangelism that would engage with lapsed Anglicans and the 'un-churched'. Ordained a priest in 1977, Cowan has been involved in ministries at all levels of the church". [Text of entire article.]
"Two dioceses have made generous donations to the diocese of New Westminster to help offset legal costs associated wiith litigation over church property rights. In June , the Most Rev. Colin Johnson, Archbishop of the diocese of Toronto, announced $250,000 was being sent from its ministry allocation fund to the diocese of New Westminster. The on July 26 , six weeks after receiving the news of the diocese of Toronto's gift, Bishop James Cowan of the diocese of British Columbia sent a letter to Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster along with a cheque for $100,000". "It was just over a year ago that the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear further appeals of a ruling made by the British Columbia Supreme Court. In that ruling, it was decided that four New Westminster parish properties were to remain in trust with the diocese".
A September 2008 meeting of the Diocese of British Columbia synod received "recommendations for one closure, St. Alban in Victoria, and for six mergers, involving eight small congregations, in the 56-parish diocese". "The diocese has seen a steady decline in Sunday attendance for at least the last 15 years, with averages dropping 11 per cent to 4,955 in 2007 from 5,555 in 2003. Funerals outnumbered baptisms by 349 to 135 last year, and 25 parishes were running deficits". "The diocese now has a congregational development officer; almost every parish has an action plan; two-per-cent annual growth targets are in place; and several parishes teetering on the brink of closure have pulled themselves back".
Four biblical scholars have been invited to help the church's Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee widen the biblical discussion on human sexuality. N.B. Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat's name is spelled incorrectly in the article as Keesmat with only one "a".
"Bishop James Cowan of the diocese of British Columbia has reversed a policy that prohibits clergy in same-gender relationships from serving in the diocese. As a result, he has been able to match up a parish looking for clergy, with 'a fine priest'. She had been on leave for eight years because she was in a same-gender relationship." At the 2008 Lambeth Conference there was a lot of discussion on the three moratoria called for in the Windsor Report: the blessing of same-sex unions; the ordination of clergy in same-gender relationships as bishops; and cross-border interventions in the affairs of other provinces. After much thought about the moratorium on the election of bishops in same-gender relationships, and after consultation with other bishops, Bishop Cowan decided that the "wording said to me [that] Lambeth is acknowledging that there are people in same-gender relationships who are priests who canonically would be eligible for election and consecration, 'The moratoria says we will not elect and consecrate', he said. 'But it [still] says that they are there'."