An unaudited financial statement released to Council of General Synod (CoGS) from the church’s financial management committee shows investment income helping propel General Synod to a surplus of about $3.6 million— on a total budget of $8.6 million—for 2021.
According to the draft statement, income from investments topped $2.5 million last year—roughly $2.3 million more than budgeted. Total revenue—most of which consisted of contributions from the dioceses—was also over budget, reaching $9.6 million, or more than $1 million more than projected.
“Despite the dioceses facing all the challenges… they continued faithfully contributing to our finances of the General Synod,” CFO and treasurer Amal Attia told CoGS March 11. Even as dioceses were given a one-month holiday from contributions, General Synod received all its payments. Attia credited that result to northern dioceses contributing an amount that was not budgeted for.
The draft statement shows diocesan contributions totalling nearly $7.1 million—about $719,000 more than budgeted but $572,000 less than in 2020. And despite being over-budget, total revenue—an item which does not include investment income—continued to fall in 2021; it was $813,000 less than in 2020, according to the statement.
Total expenses were $8.5 million—somewhat lower in 2021 than 2020, with $967,000 saved due to the pandemic; Attia highlighted reduction in travel costs as a “very significant” factor in lower expenses, along with a reduction in staff who were not replaced.
An invitation by Attia to ask questions after her presentation was initially met with silence.
“Everyone is just happy with the numbers,” quipped Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Calling the statement “very good news,” Canon (lay) Ian Alexander, of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon, asked about the church’s policy in cases of unanticipated surplus.
In response, Nicholls and Attia said a decision on what to do with the funds would be made by the financial management committee this May, once the statement is audited.
Beyond finances and the open letter by #ACCtoo (see ‘What happened … was gravely wrong’) much of the March 10-13 CoGS meeting, a hybrid of in-person and online participation, saw members taking stock of the council’s work since the last General Synod, in 2019, and looking forward to the next one.
One result of the pandemic will be a longer-than-usual gap between meetings of General Synod. With the Assembly Planning Committee—tasked with planning a joint meeting of the national gatherings of the Anglican Church of Canada and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)—having decided Feb. 18 against holding an in-person gathering this summer, CoGS needed to decide when General Synod would meet next. The council ultimately agreed on 2023, with the following session to take place in 2025.
In opening remarks to the council, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She also acknowledged growing frustrations from the COVID-19 pandemic after two years, culminating in protests calling for an end to all COVID-related health measures which caused prolonged disruptions, especially in Ottawa.
“We live in a searching world—searching for peace, for health, for justice, and in that the church continues to be a changing one,” the primate said, evoking the theme of the triennium: “A Changing Church, A Searching World, A Faithful God.” Even as Anglicans return to in-person worship, Nicholls said, hybrid/online worship is still needed.
With a “deep weariness in our midst” and in a time of radical uncertainty, she said, the church continues to be called to uphold the gospel of Jesus Christ, “because that is our one certainty.”
CoGS also affirmed five draft “transformational aspriations” intended to serve as the foundation for the church’s new strategic plan: inviting and deepening life in Christ; embracing “mutual interdependence” with Sacred Circle; championing human dignity and dismantling racism and colonialism; stewarding and renewing Creation and pursuing justice for all people; and nurturing “right relationships among people of faith” locally, nationally and globally.
The council heard several reports on the emergent Indigenous church and reconciliation. Leaders of Sacred Circle gave a presentation on the two foundational documents of the self-determining Indigenous church, The Covenant and Our Way of Life, while Martha Many Grey Horses, coordinator of the Anglican Healing Fund, spoke about the Healing Fund’s ongoing efforts to support residential school survivors, even as the pandemic presents new challenges.
Dawn Maracle, the Anglican Church of Canada’s interim Indigenous justice animator, updated the council on progress toward the drafting of a Covenant of Reconciliation by the parties involved in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement—one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Maracle shared a draft of the covenant with CoGS. Part of the church’s work over the next year, Nicholls said, would be to prepare to bring the covenant to next year’s meeting of General Synod.