Donations to the national church’s main appeal declined, but givings to its relief and development agency were up in 2000. Officials at the Anglican Appeal said the decrease was due to concerns about litigation costs stemming from the residential schools crisis. Executives at the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund said the increase showed Anglicans trust the fund’s work, even in a difficult year.
The Anglican Appeal reported total donations of $773,471 last year, compared with $1,008,000 in 1999, a decline of 23 per cent. Of equal concern, said Gail Holland, Anglican Appeal coordinator, is the amount of the average donation, which declined by 13 per cent to $70.58 in 2000 from $80.81 in 1999.
“It’s because of the residential schools (situation). The letters I get express a strong concern that donations may go to pay for litigation and judgments. Some people have stopped giving,” she said.
In 2000, the Anglican Appeal provided $485,000 to General Synod, out of its total revenue, down from the $538,912 that was provided in 1999 and down sharply from the $600,000 that was budgeted for 2000. In addition to supporting the church’s national work, the Anglican Appeal raises funds for work in Canada’s north and overseas.
Hundreds of native Canadians are suing churches and the federal government for alleged abuse suffered in the now-defunct system of residential schools. Several dioceses are on the brink of insolvency and General Synod, the church’s national office, has said it is facing bankruptcy this year. Church leaders are negotiating with federal government representatives, hoping to reach an agreement limiting the church’s liability.
Ms. Holland noted that all donations go toward programs, none toward legal fees. “Expenses for litigation are coming from assets and we have made the same commitment for the year 2001,” she stated.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund reported total receipts of $5.067 million in the year ended Dec. 31, 2000, up three per cent from $4.919 million in 1999. The fund will be changing its fiscal year end to March 31, so the next annual report will be in 15 months.
“At a time when people are nervous about the church, people didn’t desert us. People have felt reassured; they knew the work was continuing. It shows Anglican commitment to the work. I would say ‘thank you,'” commented Jill Martin, the fund’s financial and systems manager.
As of June 1, 2000, the Primate’s Fund was incorporated as an entity separate from General Synod, although it continues to be endorsed by the Anglican church. The move was made to protect the fund’s assets should General Synod face huge lawsuit settlement costs or bankruptcy. The fund sent aid to earthquake victims in India and El Salvador in the past year, among other aid projects. It also supports development initiatives in Canada and around the world.
In a message accompanying the fund’s annual report, the primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, noted that the Scriptures “make clear there is a fundamental connection between the well-being of the earth and healthy relationships between people: the outcome of conflict is desolation for the land, for farms and for cities.”
As previously reported, donations to the Anglican Journal’s appeal rose dramatically in the year 2000, compared to 1999.