Jacob Worley, who worked at St. James Anglican Church in Smithers and in Houston, was relieved of his position as priest effective Nov. 30.
Diocesan administrator Rev. Gwen Andrews, who could not be reached for comment, said in a statement Worley was terminated without cause by Archbishop John Privett of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon.
“I was told in the termination letter that my termination did not reflect on the work I have done as a priest in the Bulkley Valley,” said Worley. “While the national church — the Anglican Church of Canada — likes to say that they tolerate a wide range of theological perspectives, my termination can only be understood as a response to my outspoken orthodox, biblical, and traditional position as an Anglican priest.”
In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Privett said he made his decision in consultation with the diocesan leadership and declined to elaborate on why Worley was relieved.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to speak about personnel matters. Those are confidential,” said Privett to the Anglican Journal. “What I can say, though, is that it was not precipitous. I thought about it carefully, I discussed it with others, and I do believe the decision was in the best interests of both the diocese and the Worley family.”
The Worleys left the country last week and are currently in America. Worley, who is American, had residency in Canada that was contingent on his employment. He and his family were given 10 days to leave the country after his last day of employment.
“We don’t know what we are going to do. It takes time to find another position,” said Worley. “We need to pray and seek the Lord’s direction.”
This seems to be the final chapter in a saga that lasted just over half a year.
In April, Worley was elected bishop of Caledonia but was not consecrated as a bishop after a ruling by the House of Bishops of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon. Caledonia covers most of northern B.C.
The House of Bishops said a driving factor in their decision to overrule the election was because of Worley’s involvement with the Anglican Mission in America, a group of theologically conservative churches that was originally a mission of the Anglican Province of Rwanda.
They claim the former priest’s involvement with a church plant in the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church was made without the permission of the Episcopal Church. This violated Resolution 72 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
The bishops also said Worley held views that run contrary to the Doctrine of Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“It’s been a long seven months,” said Worley. “We were hurt, very concerned for the diocese, and fearful of what the future looks like at the hands of those have all the power but none of the transforming love that Christ gives.”
A new election was held in late October, and Rev. David Lehmann was elected bishop.
Members of his former parish Pierce and Anita Clegg started a GoFundMe page to assist the Worleys in their move.
“We were and remain very humbled by Pierce and Anita’s support,” said Worley. “We are amazed at the support from across North America but also of how so many from the Christian community in Smithers and Houston, across denominational lines, have shown us love and care. I’m so thankful that we are a part such a community.”