The diocese of New Westminster has announced a financial assistance package of approximately $2 million meant to ease financial strain on parishes in the diocese during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The package, which was approved by the diocesan council and an adjunct working group, includes:
- The suspension of assessment payments for 5 months (April 1-August 31) for all parishes
- Payment by the diocese of the salaries of all stipendiary clergy through to the end of May (excepting parishes with more than $750,000 in the Diocesan Consolidated Trust Fund or other investment funds)
- The ability for parishes to withdraw up to 20% of their capital from the Diocesan Consolidated Trust Fund to use for operational expenses
In a post on the diocesan website announcing the decision, Archbishop Melissa Skelton, bishop of the diocese of New Westminster and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of B.C. and Yukon, wrote that “[a]ll organizations that have the resources to do so, must assist their constituencies,” and that the financial support “is just another example of the resilience, creativity, kindness and commitment of the people of this Diocese who continue to remain active and engaged in as our mission says, ‘Growing communities of faith in Jesus Christ to serve God’s mission in the world.’”
The diocese’s announcement comes on the heels of the Canadian government passing a $107-billion aid package bill March 25 to help Canadians who are struggling financially because of COVID-19. In the U.S., the senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package.
In-person worship as well as parish and diocesan activities were officially suspended in the diocese of New Westminster March 18.