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

Posted on November 9, 2017

The following is a report from the York-Credit Valley Pre-Synod meeting, held Oct. 21 at St. Bride, Clarkson.

The meeting opened with a prayer, a welcome, introductions and an overview of the agenda by Bishop Jenny Andison, the area bishop of York-Credit Valley.

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. Sarah McDonald, the Honorary Secretary of Synod, 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. Sarah McDonald 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. She 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 Andison gave some highlights from York-Credit Valley. She said parishes are enabling mission and ministry within their local contexts. She highlighted the amalgamations of Trinity-St. Paul, Port Credit; Holy Spirit of Peace, Mississauga; and the coming-together of four churches into St. Mary and St. Martha, Toronto. She said 2016 marked the farewell of a loved and faithful bishop, Bishop Philip Poole, and his wife Karen. She said she was very grateful for the wisdom, support and guidance he has given her. 2017 was marked with new beginnings and a new future, she said, referring to the election of three new suffragan bishops. In 2017, a top priority for Bishop Andison was getting to know the wide diversity of the parishes in York-Credit Valley. She plans to visit the area’s more than 50 parishes in the 14 months since her consecration, and she’s on track to do that. It has also been important and a delight to develop relationships of trust, support and collaboration with the clergy and laity of the area, she said. She spoke of the emerging intercultural ministries in the area. She is committed to strengthening ministry to youth and children, and area council has doubled the number of hours for the area’s youth ministry coordinator. Refocusing energy around intentional discipleship-making and faith formation is a priority for her, and some resources have been put into that. She has sought the wisdom of the people of God about where the area needs to be placing its resources. She mentioned the first Town Hall in September, and there will be another on Jan. 13.

Bishop Andison 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.” Bishop Andison asked if there were any questions and there were none.

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.”

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 was placed on the Agenda of the Oct. 19, 2017 meeting of Diocesan Council, and Council voted to send the Notice of Motion to Synod with a recommendation that it be approved. The Convening Circular was 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:

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.

Section 11 (3) is repealed.

 

Synod members were invited to ask questions:

Q: Am I correct in understanding some of this motion can be changed? Some of it I like and some of it I don’t.
A: The only way it can be changed is if somebody brings a motion to amend it.

Q: Would that have to take place from the floor?
A: It can take place from the floor but I ask that if you’re intending to move amendment, please put it in writing and give it to Ms. Pam Boisvert, the Secretary of Synod before Synod. This provides the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and Registrar time to think through the various implications that the amendment may cause.

Q: My understanding is that for this motion to have an effect on the election of the coadjutor bishop in 2018, it must be recommended by Diocesan Council and receive 75% or more at Synod. But if it is amended, then it is no longer the motion that was recommended by Council and therefore cannot take effect for the election of the coadjutor bishop in 2018. Correct?
A: That is correct, assuming that Synod decides that it wants a coadjutor bishop. If there’s no decision in favour of a coadjutor bishop, then there is another Synod planned for November 2018. If it doesn’t get 75% but gets at least 60% at this upcoming Synod, it goes to the next regular session of Synod (in November 2018), and if it gets 60% the second time, it comes into effect, provided the bishop consents to it.

Q: But if there is to be an election for a coadjutor in 2018, the only way for this motion to have effect on that election is for the motion to go forward to Synod with no amendment, correct?
A: That is my understanding.

Q: Is there not another option regarding the election of a coadjutor? Is there not a third way possible where an interim bishop is appointed while we work through some of this? Are there only two options, or is there a third way forward?
A: The constitution requires the election of a successor bishop within six months, so no, those are the only two options.

Q: Regarding the proposed change in Section 10(3)(c), do we stop after 12 ballots and we count up the votes?
A: That section is just for the election of a suffragan bishop. This proposal is only to change the method of electing a diocesan or a coadjutor bishop.

Q: Do the canons of an electoral Synod in some other dioceses specify any kind of procedure for breaking an absolute deadlock?
A: There is the deadlock mechanism that we already have. This redraft of the canon, I am told, is based on the canon in the Diocese of Algoma. They have no deadlock mechanism and they keep voting until someone gets elected.

Area Elections

The following were elected to Diocesan Council: the Rev. Stephen Drakeford, incumbent of Epiphany and St. Mark, Parkdale; Ms. Beverley Sneyd of St. Mary and St. Martha, Toronto; and Mr. Michael Gundy of St. Anne, Toronto.

Budget Presentation – Priorities and Plans 2017-2019

Ms. Susan Abell, the Diocese’s interim Chief Administrative Officer, 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

Mr. Eric Preston spoke about the process that 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 Andison asked if there were any questions.

Q: What sort of input is going to be requested by the strategic plan’s Working Groups as they collect information about our Diocese, and how is that information going to be shared so that when we get the recommendations of the Working Groups we will have some context within which we can make some kind of informed decision or guide what we’re going to do in our parishes?
A: We will regularly have the chairs of the strategic plan’s Working Groups meet together, to think about what we have in common and how we can support each other. All the Working Groups will be making presentations at Synod. Also, these Working Groups are bodies of Diocesan Council, so reports with recommendations and communications will be going there on a regular basis. There will be a variety of ways people will be asked to give input.

Q: A number of years ago we were told that all buildings were going to have to be at all levels accessible, and the deadline was set for 2024. That will have a lot of impact in the Diocese. Has this been taken into account?
A: In the strategic plan’s Stewardship of Resources focus area, the Property Working Group is planning to hire a company to review of all properties in the Diocese and their conditions.

Q: I have some difficulties with the language of the strategic plan, it being so business-focused. It doesn’t always feel spirit-led, biblically led. I would love to see more integration of how our faith leads into each of these areas. Also, in regards to Innovation Based on Evidence, if we look just at evidence, we’re not actually trying new things. We’re not actually speaking into the moment where the Spirit is leading. There has to be a point where we step out in faith, where we try something new.
A: In the life of the Diocese, there has been a lot of innovation going on for several years now, and we’re trying to take some stock of where have things blossomed and where have things not worked. So this is a moment in the life of the Diocese where we are learning where God is at work – what do we need to hear and learn. It is about stewarding our learnings as we go forward. It is not about stopping innovation.

Q: What is the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation and why would it make sense to move the Stewardship Department out of the operations budget and into the Foundation? Are there any plans for the proposed Grant Manager position to be working in Stewardship? I’m also concerned about moving Stewardship into a fundraising envelop. Regarding the strategic plan’s funding, where is the initial $575,000 coming from?
A: The Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation is a fundraising organization, and currently the funds are primarily endowments. Regarding the moving of the Stewardship department, it does fundraising and it is that piece – the fundraising piece – that we are planning to move. We’re allowing the fundraisers to synergize what they do. Regarding Growing Healthy Stewards and other stewardship education programs, there is no intention for that to change or diminish in focus. It is proposed that the funding for  strategic planning initiatives come from a fund which is currently sitting in the Consolidated Trust Fund as the Church Development Fund. The fund was historically used for parishes doing building projects but is no longer used. The $575,000 is income that has been earned on the interest from this fund. The intention is not to touch that capital, just the interest from it.

Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries

The Rev. Suzanne McKim and Mr. André Lyn spoke about the work of the Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries. Mr. Lyn read a passage from the Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada, created in 2007. “As members of the Anglican Church of Canada,” he read, “we strive to be continuously faithful to our lives in Jesus Christ that we embrace at our baptism. We are learning that one of our strengths as a Church lies in our diversity and in our commitment to eliminate systemic and individual racism, whether intended or not. We’re called to be a Church where people have the assurance that they will be treated with dignity and respect, and where they will find a community that is determined to be free of racism.” The Working Group was established in 2014 and was given the mandate to take action on the report “Being Multicultural, Becoming Intercultural.” It has been meeting monthly since then, and as a group it is well aware that previous attempts to promote interculturality have been challenging to implement. The group did not want this to happen again. It has held “Dismantling Racism” workshops; it has had a discussion on the history of racism in the Church; it has collected data on worship services in the Diocese held in different languages; it also did a module on anti-racism at Momentum, the program for clergy; it has presented its work to the Diocesan Council; and it is working to increase the importance of diversity and interculturality. The group and its work is becoming more known in the Diocese. The group has also expanded its membership.

Wrap Up

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

Closing Prayer

Bishop Andison ended the meeting with prayer.