Letter from Deb Bowman to members of BC Conference (April 17, 2001)
Periodically you or members of your congregation may receive information that comes from Mr. Kevin Annett or people associated with him.
It is almost impossible to predict the particular twist of any piece so I will offer responses that address some of the permutations of charges he has leveled against the United Church.
The United Church of Canada has acknowledged and apologized for its involvement in the federal system of Indian residential schools and actively seeks paths of justice, healing and reconciliation. The church acknowledges our part in a society that has been unjust, abusive and racist. We continue to urge the federal government to accept responsibility for addressing wrongs done to First Nations people and communities.
Occasionally Mr. Annett charges that the church has been involved in murdering children, secret burials, medical experimentation and pedophile rings. Our response is consistent in that we urge him to present whatever evidence or concerns he may have to the RCMP or an appropriate First Nations agency. To date the RCMP report that he has offered no substantive evidence. The church continues its policy of opening our archives and cooperating fully in any investigations of alleged criminal activity.
The United Church continues in conversation with the First Nation of Ahousat and with MacMillan Bloedel concerning the transfer of Lot 363 on Vancouver Island. This issue had nothing to do with Mr. Annett’s resignation as a minister in Port Alberni.
Following ordination in 1990, Mr. Annett had two brief postings before coming to St. Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni in 1992. In January 1995, following a presbytery review, he tendered in writing his resignation to Comox-Nanaimo presbytery. He was not “fired,” “dismissed,” or “summarily removed.”
Mr. Annett’s delisting as a United Church minister was the result of two duly authorized Formal Hearings. All parties in these hearings had access to legal advice and the hearing was conducted according to the rules of evidence of the Province of British Columbia. After lengthy testimony and great expense to the church, both duly constituted panels found Mr. Annett met all three criteria for removal from ordained ministry.
- ineffectiveness (or lack of fitness) as a minister;
- failure to maintain the peace and welfare of the church;
- failure to recognize the authority of the Church courts.
The report of the Formal Hearing panel may be found here
There has never been a United Nations Tribunal to investigate alleged genocide by the United Church of Canada. The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) has not made a report to the UN about this matter. The Secretary General of Amnesty International has disavowed any involvement in the “case” of Mr. Annett.
The Circle of Justice has distanced itself from Mr. Annett in a public statement in which they say he has “spread unproven gossip,” “slandered and libeled trusted and dedicated First Nations activists,” and has “for purposes of self-promotion assigned to himself and used in print and word non-existent titles like ‘Advisor,’ ‘Chief Researcher,’ ‘Chief Expert Witness to the Vancouver Tribunal’ and others that were neither authorized nor voted on or ratified by the Circle of Justice.”
We know of no recognized First Nations group which still endorses the work or words of Mr. Annett.
I recognize that some of the articles and flyers that you might encounter include allegations that are horrific and distressing in nature. In some cases specific names of United Church clergy and lay leaders have been mentioned. I am confident of the integrity and the deeply faithful commitment of the individuals who have been named. I am continuing to work with the RCMP, national staff and our legal counsel to ensure that Conference is doing all that is possible to be transparent and accountable.
I hope that you will find these basic affirmations to be of assistance in your response to concerns as they arise. I would be grateful if you were to pass on to Conference office any leaflets or articles that you come across that appear to be from Mr. Annett or his associates. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed in the web sites listed above.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Debra A. Bowman
Acting Executive Secretary