Report from York-Scarborough’s Pre-Synod Meeting

Posted on October 20, 2017

The following is a report from the York-Scarborough Pre-Synod meeting, held Oct. 14 at St. Andrew, Scarborough.

The meeting opened with a prayer, a welcome, introductions and an overview of the agenda by Bishop Kevin Robertson, the area bishop of York-Scarborough.

Overview of Synod

Synod members watched two videos: “What to Expect at Synod” and “A Message from the Archbishop.” Ms. Pamela Boisvert, the Secretary of Synod, spoke about the date and location of Synod, the Convening Circular, the agenda, motions and Synod sponsors.

Since Synod 2015

Ms. Susan Abell, the Diocese’s interim Chief Administrative Officer, presented the Priorities and Plans 2015-2017 Narrative Report, which is found in Section B of the Convening Circular. Since the document’s approval by Synod in November 2015, the Diocese has embarked on a strategic planning process that culminated in Diocesan Council approving a new strategic plan, Growing in Christ, in June 2016. The narrative report contains highlights of notable accomplishments as the Diocese transitioned to Growing in Christ. The report covers the period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.

Ms. Abell also presented Diocesan Council’s Report to Synod, which can be found in Section C of the Convening Circular. This report contains a list of members, a summary of all policy and major items discussed or approved by Council, and a summary of diocesan grants, loans and other funding. Ms. Abell highlighted two items in the report:

  • The first is Growing in Christ, starting on Page 5. She urged Synod members to familiarize themselves with this section, particularly the Working Groups that have been formed as a result of implementing Growing in Christ. At Synod, members will hear from the chairs of the Working Groups, or their designate, about the work they have accomplished to date and their work for the coming year.
  • The second is the section on Diocesan Grants, Loans and Other Funding, starting on Page 16. Over $19 million in grants and loans were awarded from 37 different granting and funding streams from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.

Bishop Robertson gave some highlights from York-Scarborough. He said he has visited about two-thirds of the parishes in the episcopal area, and it has been a delight to do so. He looks forward to visiting the remaining parishes. He said there is a spirit of cooperation between parishes, highlighting the successful amalgamation of St. Peter and St. Simon the Apostle, Bloor Street; and the collaborations of St. Paul, Bloor Street and St. George-the-Martyr, Parkdale; and St. Bartholomew, Regent Park and St. James Cathedral. He thanked the regional deans and liturgical officers for their tremendous work. He thanked the area’s youth ministry coordinators and said the Area Council has decided to double the number of paid hours dedicated to youth ministry. The area is sending 10 youth members to Synod. Finally, he thanked all the clergy, churchwardens, volunteers, parishioners and Synod office staff, and encouraged them in their various ministries.

Bishop Robertson said Synod members will be asked to consider two motions. Diocesan Council forwards these motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the document entitled Priorities and Plans 2015-2017 – Narrative Report”; and “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the document entitled Diocesan Council’s Report to Synod.”

Financial Overview

Ms. Kathryn Rogers, the Treasurer and Director of Finance, presented the Financial Report for 2016, the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, and the Audited Financial Statements for the Cemetery Fund of the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, all of which are found in Section D of the Convening Circular. Synod will be asked to consider the following motions. Diocesan Council forwards these motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the Financial Report for 2016 from the Treasurer and Director of Finance”; and “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto and the Cemetery Fund for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016”; and “It will be moved and seconded that the firm Grant Thornton LLP, Chartered Accountants, be appointed to conduct the audit of the Financial Statements of the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto and the Cemetery Fund for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, at a fee to be approved by the Audit Committee.”

Budget Presentation – Priorities and Plans 2017-2019

Ms. Susan Abell presented the Priorities and Plans 2017-2019, which is found in Section E of the Convening Circular.

These are the priorities for the next two years as set out by Archbishop Colin Johnson. The report is aligned with Growing in Christ, our strategic plan, and also provides comments on our operational support.  

Budget Presentation – Budget Development Process

The Rev. Dr. Eric Beresford and Ms. Yvonne Murray of the Budget Working Group spoke about the process the Budget Working Group used to prepare the budgets for 2018 and 2019. The purpose of a budget is to lay out the projected income and expenditures for an annual period and to serve as a framework to guide the organization’s finances. The budgeting process for the Diocese takes place every two years. Here are the steps that were taken:

  • The Archbishop provided the Priorities and Plans 2017-2019 document as guidance for preparing the budget.
  • Historically, the next step was for the Fiscal Framework Working Group to meet to ensure that the resource implications and requirements of the Archbishop’s Priorities and Plans would be achieved as best as possible. In the current year, it was determined that the Budget Working Group would include this as part of its mandate.
  • The Budget Working Group membership was approved by Diocesan Council with the mandate of having oversight over the budget development process, including reviewing draft budgets for reasonability, affordability and alignment with strategy.
  • The Compensation Working Group was consulted for recommendations on compensation for Diocesan Centre staff.
  • The Investment Committee was consulted as to an appropriate dividend rate payable on funds held in the Consolidated Trust fund.
  • The Diocesan Leadership Team completed budget templates and written documentation to support their requests.
  • The budget submissions were compiled and a first draft of the budget was prepared.
  • The draft budget was presented to the Budget Working Group with a number of items for discussion. The budget was balanced after a number of alterations were made to ensure affordability.
  • During the afternoon session of Diocesan Council on May 27, the budget was presented and discussed. Diocesan Council approved recommendation of the budget to Synod.
  • Presentations will be made at each of the areas during Pre-Synod meetings providing the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Final approval at Synod.

The members of the Budget Working Group were thanked. The group comprises Ms. Joyce Badley, CPA, CA, MDiv., the Rev. Dr. Eric Beresford, the Rev. Joan Cavanaugh-Clark, Ms. Yvonne Murray, Mr. Peter Patterson, Mr. Eric Preston, Archbishop Colin Johnson, Ms. Susan Abell, MSW, ODT, and Ms. Kathryn Rogers, CPA, CA.

Budget Presentation – Financial Picture and Assessment Rate

Ms. Kathryn Rogers presented the Financial Picture, which is found in Section E of the Convening Circular, and the Assessment Rate, which is found in Section F of the Convening Circular. Synod will be asked to consider the following motions. Diocesan Council forwards the motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the documents Priorities and Plans 2017-2019 and the Financial Budget 2018-2019 and approve the priorities and financial plans contained therein. It will be further moved that Diocesan Council implement and report back to Synod on this plan and take corrective measures from time to time as best serves the needs of this Diocese”; and “It will be moved and seconded that the Parish Assessment Rate, as defined in Canon 4, section 2, be set at 24.70% for 2018, and 24.70% for 2019.”

Bishop Robertson asked Synod members if they had any questions.

Q: I still don’t understand the merger of the Stewardship Department and the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation. I always look to Stewardship to provide counsel to our parish on stewardship activities, and the Foundation sounds to me like the folks who go around asking for money from us. They sound like two different missions and I’m not sure how this going to work if you put them together.
A: The answer is we’re not sure yet. Stewardship currently does both of those – asking for money and supporting parishes to grow their own revenue. The reason that we’re moving the “money ask” piece into the Foundation is to not have two separate organizations. That way, if you want to approach a donor, you can get help with all of the ways to do that, instead of being sent to another place. With respect to supporting the parishes, we’re not quite sure what that’s going to look like; there’s no intention to lose that function. Over the next six to eight months we’re going to be working on a transition plan.

Q: I would hate to see the “askers” overwhelm the “supporters.”
A: No, that’s not the intention at all.

Q: Is the Grant Manager position you’re talking about mainly to oversee the granting process at the Diocese, or could this individual come to our parishes and say, “These are all the grants that are available, and I think this one would be the best one for you,” because that’s an area of need for my parish.
A: Although we do not have a job description put together just yet, our thinking is it would involve both components – pulling together information and providing advice for both the parishes and Diocese. The Grant Manager would not be approving requests for grants – it would be making sure we have a coordinated and efficient system to get the grant request in front of those bodies that have been designated to make the decision.

Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries

The Rev. Adrienne Clements and the Rev. Leonard Leader spoke about the work of the Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries. Ms. Clements and Mr. Leader shared a comment by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on racism. He wrote about the African concept “ubuntu” – a person is a person through other persons. “We need other human beings to help us be human,” wrote Archbishop Tutu. “We are intended for interdependence. We are made to exist in a delicate network of interdependence with our fellow human beings, and with the rest of God’s creation. Therefore, racism is the ultimate denial of the Gospel message.” Ms. Clements and Mr. Leader spoke about the history of the working group, which was formed in 2011 and given a mandate by Archbishop Johnson to take action on the report “Being Multicultural; Becoming Intercultural.” The group meets monthly and has become aware over the years of the challenges in attempting to promote interculturality and diversity. To overcome these challenges, Anglicans need to address racism, privilege and prejudice within our own Diocese. The committee has achieved some major milestones: a number of “dismantling racism” workshops; a discussion group on the history of racism; and a collection of data of worship services offered in various languages. There has also been the creation of a module on racism that was presented at Momentum, which is the post ordination training for new clergy in the Diocese. There have been presentations by the group to Diocesan Council and more. The group will continue with anti-racism training and workshops into the future. 

Area Elections

The following were elected to Diocesan Council: The Rev. Greg Carpenter of St. Jude, Wexford; Ms. Darleen Knowlton of St. John the Baptist, Norway; and Mr. Ryan Ramsden of Grace Church in Scarborough.

Constitution and Canon Changes

Canon Clare Burns, the Diocese’s Chancellor, presented the proposed Constitution and Canon changes, which are found in Section G of the Convening Circular. Synod will be asked to consider the following motions. Diocesan Council forwards these motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the changes to The Constitution, as recommended for approval by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular”; and “It will be moved and second that Synod approve the changes to Canon 10-Clerical Appointments, Exchanges, Retirements, and Terminations, as recommended for approval by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular”; and “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the changes to Canon 15-Churchwardens, as recommended for approval by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular.”

The following questions were asked:

Q: The change dealing with counting the offering and that there be a witness, why did you take that requirement out?
A: That was not the intent. We will investigate. (NOTE: That requirement was inadvertently deleted and has been put back in on the recommendation of Diocesan Council.)

Q: Regarding the canon on parish selection committees, does this mean you could have two churchwardens and two deputies serve on the committee?
A: No, it’s still the same number of people on the committee, but you can choose to have a deputy churchwarden instead of a regular churchwarden. We’re not trying to increase the size of the committee.

Notices of Motion

Canon Burns informed Synod members that on Sept. 21, 2017, Archbishop Colin Johnson informed members of Diocesan Council in writing that he would be asking Synod to concur with his request for the election of a Coadjutor Bishop for the Diocese of Toronto. The Electoral Synod would be held in the middle of 2018. Archbishop Johnson plans to retire at the end of December 2018. Synod will be asked to consider the following motion: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve that there be an election of a Coadjutor Bishop in 2018.”

Canon Burns informed Synod members that the Secretary of Synod had received a Notice of Motion from the Rev. Canon David Harrison and seconded by the Rev. Gary van der Meer on Sept. 12, 2017. The Notice of Motion was placed on the agenda of the Sept. 21, 2017 meeting of Diocesan Council. At the same meeting, the Archbishop informed Council of his intention to retire at the end of next year. Following a brief discussion, Council tabled consideration of this motion to the next meeting of Council scheduled for Oct. 19, 2017. On Oct. 11, 2017, the Secretary of Synod received a request by the mover and seconder to withdraw the Notice of Motion dated Sept. 12, 2017 and received a new Notice of Motion. This Notice of Motion will be placed on the Agenda of the Oct. 19, 2017 meeting of Diocesan Council. Diocesan Council will be asked whether it wishes to express an opinion or make a recommendation to Synod regarding the Notice of Motion. (NOTE: At its meeting on Oct. 19, Diocesan Council voted to send the Notice of Motion to Synod with a recommendation that it be approved.) The Convening Circular will be updated on Oct. 20, 2017. Copies of the new Notice of Motion were handed out.

The Notice of Motion is as follows:

Proposed Amendments to sections 10 and 11 of the
Constitution of the Diocese of Toronto

Background:

Some dioceses have a two-thirds threshold among clergy and laity for the election of a diocesan bishop. This ensures that the cleric elected has broad support across the diocese and is able to represent that diversity within the Anglican Church of Canada and the wider Communion. In order to strengthen the mandate of the diocesan bishop to represent the diversity of the diocese, it is proposed that the Constitution be amended to raise the threshold for election of a diocesan bishop (or a coadjutor) to two-thirds in each order. This furthers the diocesan strategic plan, which commits us to “fostering a positive culture that is respectful and inclusive of all background and experiences.” (The election of suffragan bishops would continue to require a simple majority in each house.) It is also proposed that the nominee on each ballot with the lowest number of votes in the combined orders of clergy and laity be eliminated in each round unless a certain threshold of votes is cast for that nominee, or the number of nominees on the ballots has been reduced to fewer than four.

Amendments:

  1. Section 10 (2) is repealed and replaced with the following text:

(2) Election of the Bishop of the Diocese or a Coadjutor Bishop.  The Bishop of the Diocese or a Coadjutor Bishop shall be elected from those nominated, by voting by Orders by ballot in the following manner:

  • Two-thirds of the total votes validly cast in each Order shall determine the choice.
  • The name of the candidate with the lowest number of votes in the combined Orders shall be eliminated in each round of voting except when:
  • There are fewer than four candidates remaining; or
  • The candidate with the lowest total number of votes in the combined Orders receives ten or more votes in each Order.

(3) Election of a Suffragan Bishop.  A Suffragan Bishop shall be elected from those nominated, by voting by Orders by ballot in the following manner:

  • A majority of the total votes validly cast in each Order shall determine the choice, provided at least one half of the Clergy and at least one half of the Lay Members of Synod, entitled to vote are present and vote.
  • If fewer than one half of the Clergy or fewer than one half of the Lay Members of the Synod entitled to vote are present and vote, a cleric must secure two thirds of the votes validly cast of each such group that is deficient, in order to be elected.
  • If, after twelve (12) successive ballots have been conducted at any one election, and no cleric has been elected as provided in subsection (a) and (b) herein, a further ballot shall be taken and the percentage of the Clergy voting thereat for each Cleric shall be added to the percentage of the Lay Members voting thereat for the same cleric, and the cleric who obtains the highest total of percentages shall be declared elected.
  1. Section 11 (3) is repealed.

 

Synod members were asked if they had any questions about this Notice of Motion.

Q: What are the options for Diocesan Council when it comes to them on Oct. 19?
A: Diocesan Council can choose to express an opinion or make a recommendation to Synod. If Council does not recommend the motion for approval, the motion would go forward to Synod and would require receiving approval of not less than 60% of the members of Synod present and voting at two successive Regular Sessions of Synod and receiving the assent of the Bishop following the second Synod. 

Q: This notice of motion only applies to the election of a Diocesan Bishop, not Suffragan Bishop. Correct?
A: Correct.

Q: Will the implications of the Notice of Motion that Ms. Burns described today be widely circulated or only to people who come to the Pre-Synod meetings?
A: Part of your job as Synod members is to go back and discuss with lay and clerical members of Synod who are not here, what has happened here. And the second thing is whatever the final form of the motion is, when it is presented at Synod the implications will be outlined.

Wrap Up

Ms. Pamela Boisvert thanked everyone for their contributions to today’s meeting, especially St. Andrew’s for their hospitality. She urged Synod members to check the website for Synod updates at www.toronto.anglican.ca/upcomingsynod.

Closing Prayer

Bishop Robertson ended the meeting with a prayer.