Bequest expected to buoy national budget

By on January 2, 2008

Mississauga, Ont.
The Council of General Synod (CoGS) on Nov. 18 approved a budget for 2008 that anticipates revenues of $8.9 million and expenditures of $10.2 million.

A bequest of $4 million that General Synod expects to receive on Jan. 15 will bridge the gap of $1.3 million, said Peter Blachford, General Synod treasurer.

In an interview, Mr. Blachford acknowledged that the bequest has not only given a lifeline to the national church, which has been beset with financial difficulties, but an opportunity to plan for its future through the creation of a development office.

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[pullquote]A total of $220,000 has been allotted in the budget to support the establishment of the development office, an idea which was approved by CoGS last spring. (CoGS had said that the development office would “co-ordinate and enhance all financial development activities of the church and its partner agencies” and that it must be established “at the earliest possible date but no later than January 2009.” The creation of a centralized development office was one of the primary recommendations of the Somers Report, an audit conducted by consultant Lorna Somers, an expert in the area of gift planning and annual giving in Canada.)

“If we didn’t get the bequest, we would have been in deep trouble. We would have had this deficit,” Mr. Blachford told the Anglican Journal.

About $2.6 million from this bequest, plus an anticipated $1.5 million in residential schools-related refund, will be invested to help build the reserves of General Synod (the governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada) he added.

By setting aside money to establish the development office, General Synod is investing in the church’s future, said Robert Dickson, a member of General Synod’s financial management and development committee.

During a budget presentation to CoGS, the church’s governing body between meetings of General Synod, Mr. Dickson drew a parallel to the Bible’s parable of the talents, saying the church was being given “a choice of burying the gift in reserves or taking a portion of it that will bring positive results, that will bring much more money than we’re investing in it … We have been given money to do this, we must respond to this opportunity.”

He said that the development office is expected to be self-sustaining and to raise $1.1 million by the end of 2010. “There will be additional money to fund budgeted ministries and the benefit will go well beyond General Synod,” said Mr. Dickson. “Success in this area will inspire confidence in the future.”

With the approval of the budget, Mr. Blachford said General Synod would soon advertise for the position of director of the development office, and his or her work is expected to begin by July 1, 2008. This office will be assisted by an existing staff of five (including two consultants) at General Synod who are already doing work related to appeals and gift-planning, he said.

Also accounting for the 2008 shortfall: $548,325 to offset lower recoveries expected in 2008, and $562,967 to cover inflationary salary and benefit increases, as well as increased program and operating costs.

During budget discussions, Archdeacon Sidney Black, co-chair of the Anglican Council for Indigenous People (ACIP) asked whether some of the residential schools-related rebate that General Synod is expected to receive from the federal government could be channeled to the Sacred Circle gathering scheduled for this summer in Vancouver. “We’ve been required to fundraise for Sacred Circle gatherings,” said Archdeacon Black, adding that these were important venues for aboriginal Anglicans to “worship, pray, vision, and more importantly share our stories.” He added that in recent years, Sacred Circles have become “a journey of healing” for those who have been affected by the residential schools legacy.

He also asked whether ACIP could also benefit from the work of the development office.

After consultations between ACIP and the financial management and development committee Mr. Blachford recommended that $50,000 be added to the budget of the development office for stewardship work in indigenous communities. He also said that the General Synod management team would look at the possibility of adding funds “internally” for the Sacred Circle. (The church currently contributes $150,000 to the gathering, held every three years; the meeting costs $350,000.) Both proposals were approved, along with other budget revisions.

Under the 2008 budget:

  • The grant for the Council of the North, a grouping of financially assisted dioceses, was maintained at last year’s level of $2.37 million;
  • The faith, worship and ministry department’s allocation increased from the previous year’s to $508,700 from $468,094, to cover youth initiatives-related work;
  • The house of bishops’ budget went down 11 per cent, to $142,000 from $160,400 in 2007, since there will be no “house and spouses” meeting in 2008;
  • The budget for the communications and information resources department (which includes the Anglican Journal, the national church’s Web site, Anglican Video, library services) increased to $1.294 million from the previous year’s $1.186 million (9 per cent). This increase provides for the re-hiring of a writer for the Web site, a staff position that was left vacant for two years when the church suffered a budget crunch and the department’s budget was reduced. It would also restore the publication of MinistryMatters magazine, which ceased due to budgetary constraints, in 2007.
  • The budget for financial management services will increase to $1.99 million in 2008 from $1.73 million (15 per cent). Mr. Blachford said this change includes expenditures for a planned conference of the church’s finance and human resources officers in June, as well as the hiring of an additional staffer for information technology.
  • The budget also included funds for the following ministries: primate’s office ($411,700); general secretary’s office ($663,600); archives ($155,630); indigenous ministries ($481,318); General Synod provision ($208,333), and partnerships department ($2 million).

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  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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