Plans to study the feasibility of conducting a nationwide fundraising campaign have been put on hold due to the uncertainty of the national church’s financial situation, said Canon Philip Poole, a member of the committee charged with implementing the study.
“We just can’t move forward until we know where we stand — The uncertainty of the status of the talks with the federal government (told) us this is not the right time,” he said in an interview.
The idea of a nationwide fundraiser was proposed earlier this year when General Synod’s financial management and development committee held consultations in Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto. Bishops, clergy and lay people from across the country attended the sessions, discussing ideas for rebuilding the finances of General Synod and of some dioceses shaken by residential schools litigation.
Hundreds of aboriginal Canadians who attended government-owned boarding schools are suing the federal government and several churches, seeking damages for sexual, physical and cultural abuse allegedly suffered in the schools. The Anglican Church of Canada’s national office has said legal costs are rapidly draining its assets and several dioceses are also in deep financial difficulty.
The four churches that ran the schools under contract with the federal government – Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United – are in talks with government officials, seeking to limit their liability. In May, Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray, who is leading the government negotiating team, said he had received a mandate from the federal cabinet to reach an agreement with the churches.
After the Anglican church’s financial consultations in February and March, the Council of General Synod (which governs the church between the triennial General Synods) at its March meeting approved the feasibility study.
The implementation committee consists of Canon Poole, who is rector of Trinity Church in Aurora, Ont.; Monica Patten and Brian Hartsook, lay people who are members of the financial management and development committee and staffers Jim Cullen, treasurer of General Synod, and Gail Holland, coordinator of the Anglican Appeal.
Canon Poole said he intends to make a presentation to General Synod at its meeting July 4-11 in Waterloo, Ont., about the proposed feasibility study and nationwide fundraiser. He also noted that in a fundraising campaign “you have to be clear about what you are raising funds for” and “that hasn’t been forthcoming” due to the uncertainty surrounding the national church’s finances.
After Council of General Synod approved the idea of a study, the implementation committee sought estimates on the proposed cost, “but we concluded that we just had to stop,” Canon Poole said. The study would probably involve face-to-face interviews in every diocese with lay people, clergy and bishops on whether the fundraising idea is a good one and how it should go forward, he said. This story only appears in the online version of the Anglican Journal