When it met in mid-November, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) was considering the future of the church from several angles in both the short- and long-term. What budget cuts are required for 2010 and in the coming years to eliminate deficits by 2012? What motions should CoGS prepare for General Synod in Halifax in June? And how should the Vision 2019 report inform the church’s next strategic plan? Staff writer Leigh Anne Williams presents these highlights.
Previously, CoGS approved a plan to eliminate budget deficits by 2012 through a series of annual cuts to the operating budget. This year, the plan called for the deficit to be reduced from $800,000 to $500,000. The recent economic downturn, however, coupled with a decrease in proportional giving from the dioceses-which represents the largest portion of General Synod’s revenue-meant that $450,000 had to be cut for 2010 instead of $300,000, said treasurer Michele George.General Synod 2007 committed to maintaining block grants of $2.4 million to the 11 member dioceses of the Council of the North until 2012. Thus, from the $10 million budget for 2010, the cuts had to come from the remaining $7.6 million portion of the budget.CoGS approved budget cuts to reduce the deficit in the 2010 budget to $492,000. This represented cuts to some programs, including grants to global partners. It has also meant eliminating 6.5 staff positions at General Synod offices in Toronto. CoGS also approved an investment of $350,000 (from its unrestricted funds) in three philanthropy department projects intended to help move General Synod toward sustainable budgets in the future. These include a gift guide, a bequest identification program and a feasibility/planning study for a major, nationwide fundraising initiative.
In crafting a new strategic plan for the church, leaders wanted input from Anglicans across Canada. The Vision 2019 task force asked Anglicans to answer: “Where is your church now, and where do you think the Anglican Church of Canada should be in 2019?” Canadian Anglicans responded by email, video, voicemail and letters in 1,009 messages from every diocese in the country.
Although no one clear path emerged, responses were clustered around three themes:
- a diverse and inclusive church that welcomes people regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, embracing tradition and innovation, young and old, cradle Anglicans and spiritual seekers
- mission and a church engaged in issues of social justice at local, national and international levels
- a return to the teachings and practices of the church, a more literal interpretation of scripture, and more historical forms of worship.
The task force’s next step will be to consult with stakeholders such as the chairs of standing committees, metropolitans, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, youth leaders and General Synod management. The task force will report back to CoGS in March.
Governance changes proposed
The Governance Working Group presented several resolutions to CoGS that will be conveyed to General Synod in June. They include:
- create a new formula to determine the number of clerical and lay members from each diocese who would be represented at General Synod
- reduce the size of CoGS by one- third (from 42 to 28)
- hold CoGS meetings by video or teleconference
- formally incorporate the roles of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Sacred Circle into the constitution of General Synod.