Report from York-Simcoe’s Pre-Synod Meeting

Posted on November 9, 2017

The following is a report from the York-Simcoe Pre-Synod meeting, held Oct. 21 at St. George, Allandale in Barrie.

The meeting opened with a prayer, a welcome, introductions and an overview of the agenda by Bishop Peter Fenty, the area bishop of York-Simcoe.

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

The Rev. Ian LaFleur, 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.

The Rev. Ian LaFleur 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. He highlighted two items in the report:

  • The first is Growing in Christ, starting on Page 5. He 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 Fenty gave some highlights from York-Simcoe. He began by expressing his gratitude to the clergy and laity of York-Simcoe and across the Diocese, and for the work they do. He spoke about how the area was being open-minded and creative in the face of challenges, and mentioned the amalgamation of Batteau, Duntroon and Singhampton into the Parish of Holy Trinity, Clearview, and the amalgamation of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Giles, both in Barrie. He spoke about the growth that is happening at the Parish of Craighurst and at the new church plant of St. Stephen, Maple. He praised the good work that is being done in parishes across the area and mentioned the grants that they have received to help make this happen. He said that St. Christopher, Richmond Hill is now officially a church of York-Simcoe. Finally, he said the area has been blessed with new clergy.

Bishop Fenty said that 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 Fenty asked Synod members if they had any questions.

Q: What does the line “Relocation and training” entail?
A: This supports transitioning clergy who are between parishes or transitioning out of the Diocese. Sometimes there could be a gap in appointments, and rather than there not being any payment or salary to the incumbent, this covers that.

Q: With respect to the Cemetery Fund, we haven’t got any response to the BAO Requirement. Were there any surprises in that being put together?
A: No, not at all. The reason it has taken so long is that before Scotiabank would sign off on the document, they literally went back as far as they possibly could, so they had to draw documents from their off-site storage. They’ve signed off on it and there are no concerns at all.

Q: Part of the BAO’s concern was groups like Scotiabank using a third party to do the investments and incurring much larger than normal costs with respect to those investments, so the overhead becomes quite high. Is that the case in our situation?
A: No, it is not the case in our situation. Scotiabank is the investment manager and the trustee and so the actual managing fees of the fund are well within what the fund is earning, so we are not drawing down the capital at all to pay any fees.

Q: How did we get 10% return on our investment (in the Consolidated Trust Fund)?
A: The investment group works very hard to keep a diversified approach and to really look at how the funds are invested. They are experts and we’re very grateful to them.

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

Ms. Kathryn Rogers 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 Fenty asked if there were any questions.

Q: I heard that the assessable base has produced better than expected results, and I’m wondering why. I also heard you say that’s not something you can count on. Also, why is the income expected to go down in 2019?
A: When we’re looking at the budget and assessable base, we have to keep in mind that there are a number of parishes in transition. Part of that is growth, which is exciting, and part of it is because of the three-year rolling average. There were some historically bad years that have now dropped off the average, so the assessable base is starting to rise. It can also be a combination of things, like a parish incumbent moving from full-time to part-time – that will increase the parish’s assessable base. There are a number of reasons, and it varies across the parishes, but we do look at all of them. When you’re seeing a bigger drop in 2019, the reason is because when we talk about the impact from amalgamations, we’re not expecting as big an impact in 2018 as we are in 2019.

Q: You’re looking at moving the Stewardship department to the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation. Doing that, to me, locates Stewardship only in fundraising, and we’re losing the big picture of stewardship such as the education it provides.
A: We – staff and the board and many others — have had an ongoing conversation and have confirmed that it will be a year to 18 months before we’ll see this in its final form. Programs such as Growing Healthy Stewards will remain part of Congregational Development, and the part that is the fundraising part of the Stewardship department will move over into the Foundation. As of this moment, there is a demonstrated need to keep and grow our programs for stewardship, and also that the fundraising part of Stewardship needs to be located in the Foundation.

Q: What are the capital expenditures for the Diocese?
A: That is the third funding strategy we’re looking at. Historically, the capital budget has always been part of the operating budget. What we’re looking at doing is moving some prior surpluses into an internally restricted fund, so it’s not drawing on the 2018 or 2019 budget. It would draw from prior surpluses.

Q: Is that for the Diocese in total?
A: No, it’s just for the Diocesan Centre.

Q: Is there work for that we’re not aware of?
A:
Yes, we have a five-year forecast with the specific work identified as part of the budget package. This year, we had to replace the roof because of some serious leaks.

Q: With Archbishop Johnson retiring and a coadjutor bishop coming on, there will be possibly six bishops for a period of time. How would these changes impact these projections?
A: In a moment we will be dealing with a motion for a coadjutor bishop – the election of a bishop who would serve at the same time as the Archbishop, for a period of time, probably from the summer of 2018 to when Archbishop Johnson retires on Dec. 31, 2018. The answer to your question is yes, we have anticipated that in the budget.

Q: I noticed that in Section C, average Sunday attendance over the last 15 years is down from over 28,000 to about 20,000. And yet I see our income doing okay. Can you pull out some things that show us the growth? Are we seeing a stoppage of the trend to not attend church and are we growing numerically, even though we’re closing churches and forecasting more amalgamations? Are we seeing a financial upswing or are fewer people giving more?
A: The good news is that when we put the information together, we see that 25%  – or 50 – of our parishes are growing. The number that are at the cliff, both in terms of numbers and finances, is shrinking to about 20 parishes. Of the number in between, there are a number on a trajectory to being healthy parishes. We need to assemble the data and think about what this means.

Q: I noticed that every year we have a surplus but in 2017 we will have a deficit. Is that correct?
A: That is correct. That is the projection. There have been a number of unforeseen expenditures that we have had to deal with.

Q: What is the major reason for the 2017 deficit?
A: First, we incurred legal costs for a number of issues. Also, there were increased costs with respect to supporting clergy who are transitioning between appointments. Next year we are expecting a surplus. We’ve tried to put in some pieces to help manage that.

Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries

Karen Turner spoke about the work of the Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries. She spoke about the Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada, created in 2007, and read a passage from it dealing with diversity and eliminating systemic racism, and being a church where people can live with dignity and respect. She spoke about a 2011 diocesan report that challenges the Church to become “intercultural” by embracing others and actively seeking to be transformed by others. In 2014, the current working group was established, with a mandate to take action on the 2011 report. The group notes that previous attempts at interculturality have met with limited success. To succeed, the Diocese need to address racism, privilege, prejudice and diversity. Their work recently has included “Dismantling Racism” workshops, a discussion group on the history of racism, collection of data on worship services in various languages, and creating and teaching an anti-racism module at Momentum, the program for clergy. Looking ahead, there is about $24,000 allocated in the operating budget for ongoing work. The group is looking to make anti-racism training mandatory at Momentum. It hopes to host “Dismantling Racism” workshops throughout the Diocese. It is also drafting an anti-racism policy. The working group will have a table at Synod, and people are invited to drop by.

Q: Is this material available on the diocesan website?
A: We are in the process of having a page where you can access all the work that is happening.

Q: How are you dealing with Indigenous people and culture?
A: This committee’s work has not specifically zeroed in on that. There is another committee, the Doctrine and Worship Committee, that has been tasked to look at our ongoing relationship with Indigenous people.

Ms. Turner said that the anti-racism work applies to our relationship with Indigenous peoples.

The Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner, one of the people involved in training at Momentum, spoke about the work that Momentum is doing in regards to Indigenous people and culture.

Area Elections

The following were elected to Diocesan Council: the Rev. Erin Martin, incumbent of St. James the Apostle, Sharon; Ms. Susan Schuschu; and Mr. Robert Baird.

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: Is there any sense that parts of this motion might be broken up?
A: The only way that would happen would be if the motion was amended. My understanding is that the mover and seconder want this dealt with as a package, but I will take that back to them. If anyone wants to move an amendment, please do it before Synod. Write it down and email to the Secretary of Synod, Ms. Pamela Boisvert.

Wrap Up

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

Closing Prayer

Bishop Fenty ended the meeting with a prayer.