The church is headed toward a healthy surplus for 2021, CoGS heard at its November meeting. But the financial outlook for 2022 and beyond will be highly unpredictable until the pandemic’s effect on the church is known with more clarity, the council was told.
In a Nov. 6 financial update, Archdeacon Alan Perry, general secretary of General Synod, said the church was running a surplus for the year, to date, of more than $600,000.
“That’s really extraordinarily good news,” he said. He characterized some of that surplus as due to management, some due to good luck, and some due to bad luck in the form of COVID, which meant less travel and resulting savings. Also, he added, some General Synod staff members had left and not been immediately replaced.
Total expenses for 2021 were forecast at $8.5 million, according to the operating budget.
Meanwhile, another surplus—this time a smaller one, of $28,516—was projected in the 2022 budget. Spending in 2022, which will include planned in-person meetings of General Synod and Sacred Circle, was budgeted at $10.4 million and revenue at $9.3 million, but a transfer of more than $1 million from internally designated funds, including reserves for the General Synod and Sacred Circle gatherings, is planned.
Perry thanked the dioceses for their contributions, which, he said, comprise more than three-quarters of General Synod’s income. While the consolidated financial statements show a shortfall in actual versus budgeted diocesan contributions, the general secretary said this was by design: due to a surplus, CoGS in May had given a holiday to dioceses for their August contributions.
Even so, he said, “some of those numbers are black, because there are some dioceses that contributed more than we thought they would … We’re grateful for that.”
Secondly, the general secretary noted that Resources for Mission was slightly above budget, by $46,000, because of Anglicans supporting the operations of General Synod.
However, projections for coming years include a decline in revenues, from $9.3 million in 2022 to $8.4 million in 2026—meaning, likely, a need for cutbacks at Church House, states a narrative document explaining the budget.
“Years 2023 to 2026 in the trend indicate that in the absence of increased revenue, program cuts will likely be necessary,” it reads.
The budget narrative also states that a balanced budget will be possible in 2022 partly because positions that were vacated from 2018 to 2020 will not be replaced.
Before CoGS voted on the 2022 budget, Canon (lay) Ian Alexander asked whether the financial trend of coming years would be discussed before or after the vote.
Perry replied that his sense was that it would be good for General Synod’s freshly appointed treasurer, Amal Attia (see “‘We look at it as God’s money,’” on p. 11 of this issue) to become more familiar with the trends first. Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, added that the uncertainty posed by the pandemic, among other factors, would make a discussion of this sort difficult until well into 2022, at which time, she said, a clearer picture of the church post-pandemic might have emerged.
“I … think one of the challenges with those trends is, we still do not have much information from dioceses on what will be happening,” she said. “We don’t know whether people are coming back and what that will mean financially for parishes, which will then affect dioceses which will affect us. And it’s hoped that by the middle of next year we would have a better sense.”
A motion to approve the 2022 budget carried.
—With files from Tali Folkins