Financial difficulties continue to hound General Synod, with the 2004 budget incurring a deficit of $241,592 and the 2005 budget projected to suffer a deficit of $754,000 due to a combination of factors including diminishing donations linked to the $25-million settlement fund payments and to debates sparked by the blessing of same-sex unions.
“We’re facing difficulties. The expenses are on target but we have warning signs on the income side,” General Secretary Jim Boyles said in a report to the Council of General Synod (CoGS). “We expected more than we received.”
CoGS has formed a task force with representatives from each ecclesiastical province to help the national church’s management team find ways of balancing the budget by the end of the year.
While diocesan contributions were steady, donations to the Anglican Appeal “dropped off significantly due to the necessity of payments to the settlement fund and the increased visibility of the debate over same-sex unions,” said Archdeacon Boyles, who read the financial report on behalf of treasurer Jim Cullen (who is on leave). He said that at the end of September, Anglican Appeal donations were 25 percent ahead of the 2002 level, giving rise to expectations that totals would reach $600,000 for 2003. But by the fourth quarter, donations declined by 23 percent compared to 2002. Net donations to the 2003 Appeal were $409,611, a decline of $190,000 from projected donations.
Income from the Anglican Book Centre (ABC) also took a hit. ABC introduced “aggressive discounts” on merchandise in order to reduce inventory in time for the planned move of the national office to its new quarters in January (it has been moved anew to this month).
The book store sales generated much-needed cash flow but also reduced income to $1.4 million from $1.9 million.
Thus, the expected surplus of $225,670 for 2003 was reduced to $162,458, leaving a deficit of $241,582. Archdeacon Boyles said that General Synod has no reserves to sustain the deficit.
“We have to see where the cuts are going to be,” he said.
Expenses for 2003 – $10.2 million – were “as anticipated,” said the report. Total revenue, however, was only $10.4 million compared to an outlook of $10.5 million. “This revenue level was achieved, however, primarily because bequests were much higher than anticipated,” Archdeacon Boyles said. It is difficult to predict the financial outlook for this year, especially after General Synod decides on the controversial issue of same-sex blessings, he added.
After the report, Canon Robert Falby of the diocese of Toronto suggested that the two largest disbursements – partnerships and the Council of the North – be “tightened up” instead of “chopping” the expenses of the national office where there “is no more room to maneuver.” The 2004 budget of $10.4 million allocates $3 million to partnerships and $2.5 million to Council of the North grants.
Todd Russell, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, asked CoGS, however, to examine the suggestion saying that while ACIP “understands the financial problems” of General Synod it has already tried to stretch the money it has received. “We ask that CoGS be sensitive to native ministry,” he said.
The preliminary 2005 budget predicts a revenue of $10.3 million and an expenditure of $11.06 million, giving rise to a deficit of $754,000. “It’s going to be a major concern for next year,” said Archdeacon Boyles.