BYOB parish splits from church

A storied congregation has gone from worshipping in the same building as Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, to a makeshift altar inside a theatre where it’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Bible.
“Ultimately, a church is people,” said Rev. George Sinclair.
More than 100 worshippers gathered at St. Alban’s Church in downtown Ottawa for the last time Sunday morning.
They filed out, walking one block north to finish the service in their new digs at the Ottawa Little Theatre, under another name: the Church of the Messiah, part of a breakaway group that makes up the Anglican Network in Canada.
In 2008, the church voted 79-1 in favour of separating from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, after its decision to bless same-sex marriages.
“We are being biblically faithful and we have to honour God in that respect,” said parishioner Deane Ronayne.
“Where we are is irrelevant.”
“The Bible is just very clear as to certain things, what are right or wrong and this is just so deeply taught in the scriptures that we felt we had to take a stand of conscience on it,” said Sinclair.
He maintains the dispute isn’t just over homosexuality.
“It’s ultimately about, is Jesus Savior and Lord, and is the Bible authoritative?,”he said.
St. George’s Anglican Church followed suit and last year the Diocese of Ottawa sued the rector and wardens of both churches.
An out of court settlement was reached six months ago and as part of the deal, the churches agreed to change their names.
St. George’s is now St. Peter and St. Paul’s Anglican Church.
St. Alban’s Church, located at 454 King Edward Ave., belongs to the Diocese of Ottawa, while the former St. George’s is keeping their building at 152 Metcalfe St.
The Diocese of Ottawa takes possession of St. Alban’s July 1. That’s when Centre 454, a homeless drop-in centre, will also begin moving back in.
Emotions ran high.
“As much as we need buildings, far more, we need dreams and visions from God,” Sinclair, who led at St. Alban’s for almost 16 years, told the congregation.
The move is bittersweet for some members.
“It’s strange but I’m glad to be here,” said Sheila “Missie” Lang, whose family gave the original altar at St. Alban’s in 1867 and whose grandkids are seventh generation members of the historic church.
“I think this is going to be good. You don’t cling to the past,” she said.

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