Gower, Godfrey Philip

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Gower, Godfrey Philip

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        Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster (1951-1971) and fifth Metropolitan (Archbishop) of British Columbia (1968-1971), the Reverend Godfrey Philip Gower was born in Sussex, England, in 1899 and had wide lay training before taking orders. After serving as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during the first World War, G.P. Gower studied engineering at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, graduating in 1922. In 1925 he came to Alberta, Canada and he entered the School of Agriculture and later studied at Dominion Experimental Farm, Beaver Lodge, Alberta. Neither agricultural nor engineering studies were appealing to him and in 1927, G.P. Gower entered St. John's College, University of Manitoba. He graduated in 1930, was ordained priest and took his first parish in Sedgwick in 1931. He became rural dean in Camerose, Alberta and incumbent of the Christ Church parish in Edmonton in 1934. In 1941 G.P. Gower went as Chaplain with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and, returning from overseas in 1944, he was appointed rector to St. Paul's Church in Vancouver. Elected Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster in 1951, he succeeded Bishop Francis Heathcote. Appointed Metropolitan of the Anglican Church in British Columbia in 1968, he succeeded Archbishop Harold Sexton. Archbishop Gower served the Anglican church and the public to a large extent as chairman of the Diocesan Council, first vice-president of Vancouver Council of Churches, chairman of the Committee of Social action. He was deeply involved with the proposed union of the Anglican and United churches. He strived for the merger between the two churches as a sign of vitality of the church. He found himself also involved in another controversial subject of that time - the ordination of women. Archbishop Gower approved the ecclesiastical liberation of women, but he did not extend the same tolerance to demands for the liberation movement of gay and lesbian members of the community. He considered the right on abortion as a manifestation of permissiveness and irresponsibility of today's society, a sign of disregard of the human life. He was a great believer in discipline and self-control and reminded periodically that the priest must live under the rule of canonical obedience. On his retirement in 1971, Archbishop Gower and his wife moved to White Rock. He was succeeded by Reverend David Sommerville.


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