Report from York-Credit Valley’s Pre-Synod meeting

Posted on October 13, 2011

The following is a report from the York-Credit Valley Pre-Synod meeting, held Oct. 12 at St. John the Baptist, Dixie, Mississauga.

The meeting opened with a prayer and a hymn.

Report to Synod on 2009 to 2011
The report is found in Section B of the Convening Circular. Laura Walton Clouston, Honorary Lay Secretary of Synod, presented the report. Michael Joshua, the diocese’s Treasurer and Director of Finance, presented the financial highlights. Peter Misiaszek, Director of Stewardship Development, spoke about the diocese’s fundraising campaign Our Faith-Our Hope: Re-Imagine Church.

Highlights from York Credit Valley, 2009 to 2011
Bishop Philip Poole introduced Elin Goulden and Brother Randy Greve. Ms. Goulden, the episcopal area’s Parish Outreach Facilitator, promotes and fosters the engagement of parishes on matters of social justice and advocacy. She said the parishes have participated in a number of initiatives, including the Put Food in the Budget campaign and the diocese’s Outreach Networking Conference. Brother Randy Greve OHC is the episcopal area’s Youth Ministry Coordinator and spoke about his work of encouraging growth and formation among youth and youth leaders in the area.

2010 Financial Statements
The Report regarding the 2010 Audited Financial Statements is found in Section C of the Convening Circular. Copies of the Audited Financial Statements are available on the diocese’s website.  Michael Joshua presented the 2010 Financial Statements. Questions followed.

Q: Can you explain the Note #13 about the First York Rectors Fund?
A: On Note 13, what is being referred to is a note that the auditor put in about a repayment from the Ministry Allocation Fund to the First York Rectors Fund. Pursuant to Canon 46, there is a Board of three Commissioners that monitors the disbursements of this fund. The fund, endowed in the 19th century, pays out allowances to all incumbents within the boundaries of the then Township of York. It was identified last year that, while the York rectors had met in 1991 and had collectively decided that the surplus of this fund could be used for the retirement allowances of all clergy in the diocese, a review of this fund in 2010 identified that such a distribution could not be decided by the York rectors as the fund was established by a provincial Act. When this was identified, the staff at the Diocesan Centre identified the sum paid out to clergy who were outside of the defined York area for retirement allowances. Diocesan Council voted to repay the First York Rectors Fund from the Ministry Allocation Fund. Grant Thornton was engaged to conduct a special procedures audit to review the work of the diocesan staff and to ratify the amount of the repayment.

Budget Process
The budget for 2012 and 2013 can be found in Section D of the Convening Circular.
The Rev. Ted McCollum, a member of the diocese’s Budget Working Group, spoke about the process that the group used to create the proposed budget for 2012 and 2013. “We wanted to make sure as much money as possible stays in the parishes,” he said. He said the increase in parish assessment is less than 1 % for 2012 and possibly less than .75 % in 2013. Questions followed.

Q: The move of .99 % will affect our allotment by about 4%.
A: We had this discussion many times, within the Budget Working Group and at  Diocesan Council. The truth is that every parish is different. You can be in a parish that has had significant increases in income over the last three years, and you would see an increase in your assessment. On the other hand, you can have an increase in your income over the past three years, but because you are using more money for outreach and staff and ministry within your parish, your assessment would go down even though the assessment rate goes up. It’s not a statement of, “Here’s a flat tax and here’s what we’re doing.” Every parish is totally different in the way they report their income… the way they spend their money. The more money they spend on direct ministry, the lower your assessable base.

Q: In the assessment rate note in Section E of the Convening Circular, it is written that “…despite the fact that the diocesan allotment is requiring less from parishes, a small increase in the rate is still needed…” There appears to be a disconnect in this memo as the diocese is collecting more from the parishes.
A: This was a misprint in the assessment rate note, which should simply read “A small increase in the rate is needed…”

Q: The diocese has done of great job of reducing expenditures since  2009. But for 2012 and 13, you’re increasing expenditures by eight and a half per cent. That’s a significant increase for today’s environment.
A: Because of the support being asked for by the parishes, and because of the departmental needs of the diocese and the growth we see in new and innovative ministries, the line items have gone up. We’re keeping parish assessment as low as possible. We started out with an assessment that was much higher and spent a long time bringing it down but still maintaining the services that the diocese needs. We’ve had very low growth in our budget in the last few years and we have to increase, simply because of what’s being asked for in the parishes. There are also a lot of new ministries, and that’s driving the increase.

Q: Is there an opportunity for debate and revision to the Budget at this meeting?
A: Diocesan Council has recommended that this budget go to Synod and it will be debated there and voted on there.

Q: Support for the wider church between 2010 and 2013 is flat, despite our income being up by about 8 %. How is that line item arrived at and how did we make the decision to not increase that?
A: Support for the Wider Church line item is the amount the diocese contributes to the National Church.  The majority of that money is for outreach. When Diocesan Council decided that 10 % of income to the Ministry Allocation Fund would be tithed to that same sort of work, it was decided that even though we’re not increasing support to the wider church, we are increasing how much money is going out by way of tithing the Ministry Allocation Fund. In 2010 alone, over $700,000 was put aside for tithing purposes to support those ministries that don’t usually get support from the diocese. The Council of the North will also receive money from the Our Faith-Our Hope campaign. In 2010 and 2011, grants from the Ministry Allocation Fund tithe were disbursed to the Diocese of the Arctic, Council of the North, the Anglican Church in New Zealand, the Diocese of Wiawso and others.

Q: In the line in the budget for Synod, the numbers in that line fluctuate considerably.
A: We made a conscious decision to absorb more of the costs at the diocese to keep more money at the parish level.  The amount represents the actual cost of Synod after registration fees are deducted. This amount has gone down as we are asking for less money from parishes toward registration and have reduced the residential component. The suggestion of a smoothing of the rates over the two years will be considered. On a positive note, we no longer need to meet on an annual basis and therefore are able to eliminate the need to hold corporate (financial) sessions of Synod.

Priorities and Plans 2011-2013
The Priorities and Plans 2011-2013, including the high level financial picture, are found in Section D of the Convening Circular. The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Hardy, Chief Administrative Officer, presented.

2011-2013 Financial Plan
The 2011-2013 Financial Plan is found in Section D of the Convening Circular. Michael Joshua, Treasurer and Director of Finance, presented.

Assessment rate
The parish assessment rate is found in Section E, page 1, of the Convening Circular. In order to meet the revenue needs of the Diocese for 2012, the assessment rate for parishes is being proposed at 24.39% for 2012 . That is an increase in parish assessment of less than 1 % for 2012 and possibly less than .75 % in 2013. Questions followed.

Q: Do you expect the assessment rate to increase .99% every year?
A: Right now we’ve only budgeted for two years. We haven’t brought forward an assessment rate for 2013 because it’s based on an assessable average of 2009-11. If assessable income for 2012 remains the same as 2011, we’d be looking at a .70% increase in 2013.

Q: I’m curious to know what the basis of the assessment was years ago. How was it determined? Is that something that is looked at from time to time?
A: Synod passed Canon 4 only a few years ago. So yes, it is looked at from time to time.

Area elections
Elections took place for members of Diocesan Council and Area Council.

Elected Area Representatives to Diocesan Council:

  • The Rev. Michelle Childs, St. John, Weston
  • Ms. Garcia Robinson, St. David, Lawrence
  • Ms. Jessica Hall, Christ Church, Brampton

Constitution and Canons changes
Changes to the Constitution and Canons can be found in Section F of the Convening Circular. Paul Baston, Registrar, presented. There were no questions.

Motions to Synod
Two motions from Synod members will be coming to Synod. They can be found in Section A, page 20, of the Convening Circular. A question followed.

Q: Can you explain the rationale behind the recommendation that the second motion not be approved.
A: “Strictly from a financial perspective, it would require us to remove slightly less than $1 million out of the diocesan budget to afford that. The mover of the motion suggested there was a benefit to some parishes but their assessment would have to go up to meet the diocesan budget requirements or we would have to pull $800,000 from the diocesan budget. So for a few parishes that would benefit, all would end of paying more.

The meeting ended with a prayer and a hymn.

The next Pre-Synod meeting will be held at St. John the Evangelist, Peterborough on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. for Synod members in the episcopal area of Trent-Durham. See the schedule of Pre-Synod meetings.