Trent-Durham Pre Synod meeting: report

Posted on November 13, 2013

The meeting was held at St. Paul in Lindsay on Nov. 9. Bishop Linda Nicholls, the area bishop, welcomed all to the meeting. The meeting opened with a prayer and a hymn.

Area highlights
In her opening remarks, Bishop Nicholls talked about some of the highlights in Trent-Durham. These include the establishment of Redeem the Commute, an online ministry to commuters; the work of Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat, who is the biblical scholar-in-residence for the deanery of Victoria-Halliburton; the hiring of a youth worker by four churches in Oshawa; and the continued success of the youth retreats.

Question: I didn’t hear anything about Education for Ministry. Is that going to come later?
Answer: (Bishop Nicholls answered): We have been looking for ways to offer materials and programs across the area to assist everyone to grow in faith. A couple of ways have emerged. One is Education for Ministry. This is a program that has been around for many years and we have a number of facilitators in our area to who trained to lead this. The first group to do that has started at All Saints, Whitby. It would also be an excellent program for lay readers and those moving into ministry and wanted to deepen their understanding of scripture and of the history of the church and the faith.

Question: Are there any funds for people who want to take Education for Ministry?
Answer: (Bishop Nicholls answered): The Area Council does have some funds available. It’s a good question to take back to Area Council and ask, Are we prepared to set aside some funds? The Area Council does not have the capacity to fully fund this for people. I think it needs to be a sharing between the individual, the parish and the area. (An Education for Ministry facilitator who was at the meeting said bursaries are available for those who need financial assistance to take the course.)

Overview of Synod
The Rev. Claire Wade gave a brief overview of Synod. She spoke about the theme of Synod, which is “Compassionate Service, Intelligent Faith, Godly Worship”. She said the agenda  for Synod has been designed to be a time of worship, fellowship and continued growth in regards to our vision and mission for the Diocese. More information on the theme and agenda for Synod can be found on Page 18 of the Convening Circular. Ms. Wade also recommended that first-time Synod members read “Synod for Beginners – What to Expect at Synod.”

Report Card for 2011-2013
Ms. Wade described the work of the Diocese since the 2011 Synod. She said the Diocese has focused on four areas: strengthening local parishes, building the church for tomorrow, revitalizing our inheritance and giving to others beyond ourselves. For details of this work, see Pages 20-28 of Section B of the Convening Circular. Mr. Stuart Hutcheson, the interim director of Finance, gave the financial highlights of 2011 and 2012. He said the Diocese ended 2011 with a surplus of $1,374 and ended 2012 with a surplus of $5,183. For details of the financial highlights of 2011 and 2012, see Page 28 of Section B of the Convening Circular.

Question: Can you explain the Giving the Gift of Life by diocesan staff? (This question was referring to the following information in the Report Card for 2011-2013: “Diocesan staff have made 55 donations as part of the Partners for Life Program with Canada Blood Services’ Giving the Gift of Life.”)
Answer: (Archdeacon Elizabeth Hardy answered): We made a commitment at the Synod office to sign up with Canada Blood Services to donate blood. Anglicans who are interested in joining the Diocesan Partners for Life Program can donate blood at their local clinic (which can be found at www.blood.ca) and cite the program number ANGL012297. If your parish is interested in making a donation as a group, your local clinic can also assist you to set up a group donation.

The following motion will be coming to Synod: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the document entitled “The Anglican Diocese of Toronto: Priorities and Plans 2011-2013—Report Card as approved by Diocesan Council.”

Audited Financial Statements
Mr. Stuart Hutcheson gave a report on the Audited Financial Statements for 2012. Section C of the Convening Circular includes a full report from the Treasurer on the Financial Statements for 2012. The Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, the Consolidated Trust Fund and the Cemetery Fund were approved by Diocesan Council in June 2013. The statements were posted on the Diocese’s website in early October.

The following motion will be coming to Synod: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, the Consolidated Trust Fund and the Cemetery Fund for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012, as recommended by the Diocesan Council.”

Question: Is there a mechanism for people to ask the Diocese if we could be divested of the resource management companies such as Enbridge Gas, because of their detrimental environmental impact?
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): One of the difficulties is that some of the vehicles that we’re invested in are bundled in such a way that it’s almost impossible to separate out every one. We try to make sure we’re weeding out the most egregious ones and the most obvious ones, although with some of these vehicles it’s very difficult. We make a conscious effort, we have a policy and we do our very best to identify the most egregious offenders and not be invested there.

Financial Update for 2013
Mr. Hutcheson also gave a financial update for 2013. There were no questions.

Budget 2013-2015
Archdeacon Hardy and the Rev. Ted McCollum presented the budget for 2013-2015. The presentation began with a video of Archbishop Colin Johnson speaking about his priorities over the next two years. (The document, Priorities and Plans 2013-2015, can be found in Section D of the Convening Circular.) Mr. McCollum, who was a member of the Budget Working Group, also presented the proposed assessment rate for 2014 and 2015.

There will be two motions coming to Synod:

“It will be moved and seconded that the Parish Assessment Rate, as defined in Canon 4, section 2, be set at 25 % for 2014 and 24.85 % for 2015.”

“It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the document entitled Priorities and Plans 2013-2015 and the Financial Budget 2014-2015 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.”

 After table group discussions, the following questions were asked:

Question: Please explain what the following terms mean and how they are related: assessment, allotment and apportionment?
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): They all mean the same thing and they are used interchangeably.

Question: You mentioned that there was a reduction of 10 % in the expenditures of diocesan departments. Can you tell me what was dropped, and did any of that 10 % come out of our commitment to the national church?
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): No, our commitment to the national church was not impacted by that reduction. Most of the savings came from programs that were coming to an end, and, in some departments, their staffing complement changed so that when someone in a senior position left and we hired someone to replace them, they came in at a different place on our salary grid. Also, we used to use a lot of paper for the Executive Board and Trusts Committee meetings. But now people bring their tablets to meetings, so we reduced the amount of paper we’ve used and have saved $11,000. (Bishop Nicholls answered): There has been an impact on the area because of this 10 % reduction. For instance, the Area Council budget has been cut by about $5,000, so it means we have less to give for ministry and area development grants. We have shared in the 10 % cut in order to keep more money in the parishes. So this does have an impact on us as an area.

Comment: The OPCOTE line item for funding theological education is basically unchanged. I think this is a mistake. I think we should be putting more money into theological education for Trinity and Wycliffe.

Question: It seems that about 25 % of our revenues are coming from lease and other investment income. Are you able to expand on what percentage leases might be expected to continue?
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): In terms of leases providing money for our operating budget, there is only the Marriott Hotel (in downtown Toronto). (Mr. Hutcheson answered): The Marriott is very significant. If you’re not aware, there’s a hotel on the site of the former parish hall at Holy Trinity, Trinity Square, Toronto, and we have a 99-year lease with them. Of the $1.8 million from leases and investments, $1 million comes from the Marriott. The other big one is interest on capital, and as I said earlier, in the revised budget for 2013, we had to go down from a 5 % to 4.5% dividend on our investments. The Investment Committee will make the decision on 2014 in a couple of weeks, but my sense is that 4.5% is clearly sustainable for the next two years.

Question: On the expenditure line, there was a dip below $8 million in 2014 and then it goes back up again. We were wondering whether it was related to the capital budget line or not.
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): It is related to things like the Cost of Living Adjustment and there won’t be a Synod in 2014 but there will be in 2015, and that represents a diocesan budget cost of $80,000.

Question: I’m interested in the surplus for 2014 of $269,000. Presumably there will be $269,000 left at the end of the year, so what will happen to it? It doesn’t seem to be carrying over in the 2015 budget. Does it get allocated somewhere or is it carried forward?
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): $180,000 will go for the two elevators at the Diocesan Centre.

Question: That’s the capital budget?
Answer: (Mr. McCollum answered): Yes.

Question: So the surplus carries the capital budget?
Answer: (Mr. McCollum answered): Yes. The capital budget is part of the budget, so what we did was have Income and Expenses and Surplus, and then we put Capital separately. The surplus will be $89,787. That’s the number we’re looking at – not $269,000.

Question: Is that $89,787 reflected in the budget? What happens to that money?
Answer: (Mr. Hutcheson answered):You’ll notice that the capital budget goes up about $100,000 in 2014. That replaces one of the elevators at the Diocesan Centre. The hope is, if we can generate the surplus – the $89,787 – we will be able to replace the second one, which is equally decrepit.

Area Election
The following individuals were elected to Diocesan Council from the area:

  • The Rev. Christopher Greaves, incumbent, St. John, Bowmanville
  • Mr. Stephen Masson, St. Paul on-the-Hill, Pickering
  • Ms. Marion Thompson, St. Peter, Oshawa

Constitution and Canon Changes
Archdeacon Hardy reported on revisions to the Constitution and Canon 29 (Designated Ministries) and Canon 36 (Audit Committee). These changes can be found in Section F of the Convening Circular.

The following motion will be coming to Synod: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the changes to the Constitution and Canons as approved by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular.”

Question: Does the change mean that those ministries send two members rather than the one, or could they be either/or, depending on whether it’s a lay-led ministry?
Answer: Currently the ministries that this is designated for are all being led by clerics. The potentiality is there for two representatives – a cleric and a lay person – but the decision will be made upon application to Diocesan Council.

Our Faith-Our Hope: Re-Imagine Church
Archdeacon Hardy gave an update on the campaign. To date, the total amount pledged or received is $40,965,659. She encouraged parishes to apply for grants. The next deadline for applications is April 15, 2014.

Evaluations
Those in attendance at the meeting filled in evaluation forms of the meeting.

The meeting ended with a hymn and a prayer.