Two more dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have announced measures to help parishes struggling with finances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The diocese of Toronto and the diocese of Central Newfoundland have both announced a time of jubilee that will see parish allotments cancelled temporarily.
In a letter posted to the diocesan website March 27, bishop of the diocese of Toronto Andrew Asbil announced that for the months of April and May, “parishes will not be required to pay their allotment to the Diocese or to pay the costs of clergy remuneration (stipend, housing and associated benefits).”
The decision resulted from a survey of parishes in the diocese which found that most churches were struggling to pay their monthly allotment or cover payroll, Asbil wrote.
In his letter Asbil stated that the jubilee measure will cost the diocese about $3.6 million.
To raise the necessary funds, the diocesan council approved “some serious steps,” Asbil wrote: extending the diocese’s line of credit with the bank and seeking loans of $2 million each from two diocesan funds—the York Rectors Fund and the Ministry Allocation Fund—and a loan of $46,000 from a third, the Etobicoke Glebe Fund. The diocese will use some vacant land it owns in Ajax and Peterborough as security for the loans.
Asbil wrote that he hoped parishes would use the time of jubilee “to be as creative as possible, and in turn be as generous as possible with each other.”
Everyone is affected by the pandemic, he wrote, “and the Church is called to witness to God’s goodness in times of need.”
In an April 6 letter to the diocese of Central Newfoundland, Bishop John Watton also declared a time of jubilee that will not require that parishes remit assessments to the diocese in April, May and June.
Watton wrote that he had been asking diocesan committees over the past two years to consider a financial jubilee for allowing the parishes to undertake new forms of ministry.
“My hope was that we would be able to use our diocesan investment income and resources to create this possibility,” his letter states. “I believe many of these conversations that were intended to plan[t] seeds actually prepared the foundation for what [we] must now do.”
It continues, “While this reallocation of funds is not being done as we might have hoped this Jubilee allows funds to remain in parishes and creates a new pathway for a new vision in a time of testing and trial.”
“A time of Jubilee is about more than financial relief, or being forced to respond to a crisis,” Watton wrote. “We are entering a time of prayer, visioning, decision making and acting with faith.”