The Anglican Church of Canada’s national office is forecast to have a balanced budget this year—but substantial deficits and program cuts are likely in the years to follow, documents prepared for the November meeting of Council of Synod (CoGS) state.
The budget for 2023 is expected to have a modest surplus of $43,000, according to a budget document prepared for CoGS and dated Oct. 27. This includes the projected cost of $791,900 for the meeting of General Synod planned for the summer, as well as a gathering of Sacred Circle planned in the spring. To balance its budget, the church will use just over $1 million in funds that were set aside in previous years to cover these expenses, General Synod treasurer Amal Attia told CoGS. The national church was expected to have a similarly modest surplus in 2022, she said.
Prospects for coming years, however, as revenues are expected to fall, are not as rosy. The Oct. 27 document forecasts a deficit of $495,000 in 2024, $1.45 million in 2025, $460,000 in 2026 and $524,000 in 2027, and a budget narrative predicts cuts at Church House.
“Years 2023 to 2027 in the trend indicate that in the absence of increased revenue, program cuts will likely be necessary,” it states.
The budget projection shows expected revenues from diocesan contributions—by far the largest element of the national office’s revenues—falling from 2021’s $7.25 million to $6.93 million in 2024, and then staying at $6.93 million until 2027, the last year covered by the projection.
The office of the general secretary of General Synod, Attia told CoGS, was over-budget as of Sept. 30 2022 because of a legal expense that is not expected to continue. In response to a request for more details from CoGS member Michael Siebert of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land, Attia replied that legal fees totalling about $175,000 were due to the case of Mark MacDonald, the former national Indigenous Anglican archbishop who resigned in April 2020 after acknowledging allegations of sexual misconduct.
In response to a fact-checking email from the Journal, however Attia said she had brought up costs incurred by the MacDonald case only as an example of the items that had caused the general secretary’s office to run over budget in 2022. And in an interview, General Secretary Archdeacon Alan Perry said he understood Attia to have misspoken; legal costs, which as of Sept. 30 stood at $182,494, were for a variety of services, he said, including advice on property matters and on copyright contracts for the church’s new hymn book, on employment issues, and to deal with a statements of claim that inappropriately name General Synod.
Perry confirmed the events surrounding MacDonald’s resignation were part of this total, in the interview estimating them at less than 30 per cent, but wrote in a later email that he was unable to give a figure or percentage.
“I really can’t say how much has been spent on any given legal matter as I simply don’t have those figures at hand, so it would be inaccurate to put any percentage figure on it,” his email states. When pressed, Perry replied he would not share the amount of any legal bill.
During her presentation, Attia announced that despite unusually high gains in the church’s investments for the years of 2020 and 2021, those investments had to date lost around $700,000 during 2022 as the stock market took dips related to the war in Ukraine and an incoming recession. David Edwards, bishop of the diocese of Fredericton, asked Attia why the national church had not followed the strategy his diocese’s broker had recommended—to realize its gains by taking money out of the market before the drop in financial markets that caused the losses. Attia replied that they had not received the same advice from the General Synod’s financial broker and were now considering changing to another broker.
Many of the world’s stock markets declined considerably in the first half of 2022. In a November email discussion with the Journal, Attia said things could change in the fourth quarter of 2022.