Reverend Gordon Goichi Nakayama: Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation
The Reverend Canon Gordon Goichi Nakayama was ordained in the Diocese of New Westminster in 1932. Following ordination Canon Nakayama served as a priest at Church of the Ascension in Vancouver until 1942. When Japanese Canadians were internally displaced by the Canadian government in 1942 Canon Nakayama followed the people to Slocan, BC where he served as a priest. He also visited the other internment camps in BC.
Following the end of World War II Canon Nakayama founded Church of the Ascension in Coaldale, AB in the Diocese of Calgary and served there until retirement in 1978.
During the period he was a priest at Coaldale, AB and in retirement he travelled extensively across Canada and the northern USA visiting Japanese people and communities. His travels would extend to Okinawa where he worked for a year between 1951-52, and also included South America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
In 1979, after retiring from Church of the Ascension, Coaldale, AB, Canon Nakayama moved to Vancouver. He served as a priest at Holy Cross Japanese Anglican Church in Vancouver until retiring a second time. During this period his canonical residency (obedience to the Bishop of Calgary) remained in the Diocese of Calgary.
In 1994 something occurred that brought to light Canon Nakayama’s past offences. In a letter he writes “I am very sorry to apologize what I did in the past. I made mistake. My moral life with my sexual bad behaviour. I sincerely sorry what I did to so many people. I hope you forgive me my past mistake.”
Archbishop Curtis, bishop of Calgary wrote to Canon Nakayama on 10 February 1995. He references a conversation that took place between the Bishop’s assistant, Archdeacon Mitchell and Canon Nakayama: “In your letter and during your conversation with Archdeacon Brooke Mitchell, you confirmed and admitted that you had engaged in significant immoral sexual misconduct over many years while in the office of Priest of Anglican Church.” He further writes “After an extensive review of your admitted misconduct, it is my decision that some action must be taken against you regarding the same…..The charge of Immorality is now formally made against you.” Archbishop Curtis continues his letter giving three options to Canon Nakayama: defend himself against the charge in an ecclesiastical court; accept the penalty of Deprivation and no longer to continue in priestly ministry or voluntarily ‘resign his orders.’ Canon Nakayama was given thirty days to consider the options.
Three days later, on 13 February 1995, Canon Nakayama wrote to Archbishop Curtis, voluntarily resigning his privilege to exercise ministry ‘…as a sign of contrition for my immoral behaviour. I will not officiate at services, visit in hospitals on behalf of the Church or be involved in any other ministry functions.” He concluded his letter with “I deeply regret the pain and suffering I have caused.”
The Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of New Westminster are committed to truth and reconciliation. The Anglican Church seeks to provide a place for the truth, no matter how painful it is to hear, to be told, and believing that in so doing healing may begin to occur. Only when the truth is told can reconciliation be hoped for.
The Venerable Douglas Fenton, Executive Archdeacon is at the Synod Office of the Diocese of New Westminster. The office is located in Vancouver, BC. Archdeacon Fenton has made himself available to hear from anyone connected with abuse by Canon Nakayama. Anyone who wishes to express her/his pain, anger or sadness should make an appointment for an in-person visit or telephone call. If you or someone you know would benefit from a conversation with a representative of the Anglican Church please call 604-684-6306 and ask for Archdeacon Fenton or write to firstname.lastname@example.org