York-Scarborough Pre Synod meeting: report

Posted on November 21, 2013

The meeting was held at St. John the Baptist, Norway, Toronto, on Nov. 16. Bishop Patrick Yu, the area bishop, welcomed all to the meeting. The meeting opened with a prayer and a hymn.

Overview of Synod
Mr. Chris Ambidge gave a brief overview of Synod. He spoke about the theme of Synod, which is “Compassionate Service, Intelligent Faith, Godly Worship”. He 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. He also recommended that first-time Synod members read “Synod for Beginners – What to Expect at Synod.”

Report Card for 2011-2013
Mr. Ambidge described the work of the Diocese since the 2011 Synod. He 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.

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.”

Area Highlights
Darlene Knowlton, a member of Area Council, talked about some of the highlights of the area, including the bursary grants for high school graduates starting post-secondary education; youth events such as Committed 2013; and Sharing Faith Dinners, where Anglicans meet together to share and practice sharing their faith, starting in 2014. Bishop Patrick Yu, the area bishop, also gave some highlights. He said the area is financially healthy and under good clergy leadership. He spoke about St. John’s moving into the former building of St. Patrick’s, and also about Grace Church, Scarborough, moving into their new building at 700 Kennedy Road. He also encouraged people to go to the area website, as it contains many resources for faith development and ministry.

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: Does the Diocese provide reconciliation between the Audited Financial Statements and the statements you were speaking to earlier that show the $5,000 surplus?
Answer: (Mr. Hutcheson answered): Not exactly. If you look at the first column of the income statement in the Consolidated Trust Fund, most of those results are covered in the budget – it’s called the unrestricted operating fund. They probably don’t tie exactly; there are likely some entries that get made between the other columns, but most of what appears in that column are the results of the budget.

Question: That column actually shows a $2.3 deficit as opposed to a $5,000 surplus.
Answer: (Mr. Hutcheson answered): The reason for that would be that a fairly large portion of the income that is received in the budget is from capital funding – return on capital that is owned by the Diocese. And those returns are shown as part of the restricted funds in the last two columns. Whereas we show them in the budget in the $8 million, when we show them on the financial statements, they’re not in that operating fund column.

Question: Going forward, it probably would be helpful if there was some sort of reconciliation.
Answer. (Mr. Hutcheson answered): Thank you. We will take that into consideration.

Question: I know the Diocese has an ethical investment policy but it seems to come up every Synod anyway, so I’m wondering if it might be helpful when you present the financials, particularly for the Consolidated Trust Fund and the Cemetery Fund, if you can speak it.
Answer: (Mr. Hutcheson answered): We do have an ethical investment mindset when we ask managers to invest in the market, and at each Investment Committee meeting we challenge the managers on the stocks that they invest the fund in. It becomes difficult, especially in the foreign sector, as we invest a portion of the funds in pooled arrangements, so we actually buy units of other larger funds as opposed to owning stock in foreign companies. That makes it impossible to segregate an organization that perhaps we would be uncomfortable with owning. So we do challenge them, but it’s not entirely possible to winnow out the ones that we might find objectionable.

Philippine Appeal
The Rev. Ariel Dumaran, incumbent of San Lorenzo Ruiz, Toronto, asked Synod members for donations to help with relief work after Typhoon Haiyan. Contact him directly at paitone@yahoo.com or 647-716-3995. The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, www.pwrdf.org, is also accepting donations.

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

Budget 2013-2015
Archdeacon Hardy and Mr. Rob Saffrey, a member of the Budget Working Group, 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. Saffrey 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.”

Question: What is the impact of the Our Faith-Our Hope (OFOH) campaign on the operating budget and what is the impact of OFOH on the diocesan vision?
Answer: (Mr. Hutcheson answered): The OFOH is not in the operating budget; it is a separate fund that is filled up by individuals and is reduced by the grants that the OFOH Allocations Committee approves. The Rev. Kevin Robertson will talk about OFOH and the grants further down in the agenda of this meeting. (Bishop Yu answered): In the long term, the OFOH campaign has a significant impact on the Diocese’s budget because it is an investment. People have been very generous and $41 million has been raised. It means that a lot of people have confidence in the future of the Anglican Church. The grants are supposed to start things and to give our church a more missional mindset and to try a lot of ideas. If we invest right, churches will be healthier, many people will come to know the love of God through God’s son Jesus, and that our churches will grow again. So that has a financial implication. There is also a sense of experimentation and a sense of hope. Not all of the projects will succeed, but we can learn from the failures as well. So this is a tremendous business, spiritual and missional enterprise.

Question: I have a question about the assessment rate for 2014. If you’re looking at a small surplus in the budget, why don’t you drop the assessment rate?
Answer: (Mr. Rob Saffrey answered): There was a rigorous debate in the Budget Working Group, and at the end of the day it was an issue of caution because of the decline in the overall assessable base, and the fact that there are two years of assessment rate being approved here, so there’s not a chance of coming back to Synod with an adjustment. That was why we decided to defer for one year the reduction in the rate. It’s a cushion.

Question: Has the Budget Working Group given any thought to the assessment rate being 24 % or even 20 % on a longer term basis for parishes that need to plan ahead?
Answer: (Archdeacon Elizabeth Hardy answered): I think one of the things it’s important for parishes to know is that the amount that all parishes raise and receive is about $60 million; after parishes take all the deductions they’re entitled to under Canon 4, the amount that the assessment rate is applied to is about $20 million; so $40 million is staying the parishes. We have tried to give parishes a future by setting the rate for two years, so you know what it will be for your budgets for the next two years. It’s important to know that both elevators at the Diocesan Centre are unsafe to use, so we either close the elevators, which will have an effect on staff and visitors, or we keep the assessment rate at what it is an fix those elevators before there is an unfortunate accident.

Area Election
The following individuals were elected to Diocesan Council from the area:
* The Rev. David Giffen, priest-in-charge, Church of the Transfiguration, Toronto.
* Ms. Joyce Badley, St. Paul, Bloor Street.
* Sister Elizabeth Ann Eckert, SSJD.

Area Council Election
The following individuals were elected to Area Council:
* Mr. Bob Horne, St. Luke, East York
* Ms. Toni Terbenche, St. Margaret in the Pines, Scarborough
The following were appointed by Bishop Yu:
* Mr. Para Sathi, St. John, York Mills
* Mr. Leonard Leader, St. Paul L’Amoreaux, Scarborough.

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.”

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

Question: Can I assume for applications, for example Leadership Development grants, there are criteria listed and it’s very clear what the parameters used by the Allocations Committee will be?
Answer: (Mr. Robertson answered): The Allocations Committee was appointed and constituted long before the first funding cycle and we sat down over a couple of meetings to do just that – to set out for each category what our expectations were.

Question: We have a lot of granting streams that are coming through the Diocese. I sit on a committee that monitors grants under the Ministry Allocation Fund. One of the concerns raised has been a lack of coordination across all the various granting streams. It’s easy to give out the money but not  easy to take care of the accountability of that money and how effective it is being spent to ensure that we’re learning from those and that learning is being shared and passed on. It feels like there is competition between some of the granting streams, so that it’s easier to apply to OFOH and there’s no accountability around ensuring that money is being used effectively.
Answer (Mr. Robertson answered): When the OFOH Allocations Committee set out the criteria for funding in each category, we were really clear, and I think we set the bar really high. When people are submitting proposals, we expect that they’re clear about how this project can be replicated, how it can be shared in the rest of the Diocese, and we asked applicants to state that. We also ask people in parishes how they participated in the OFOH campaign, so there’s accountability around that as well. (Archdeacon Hardy answered): One of the things that OFOH is not about is, “Well, we couldn’t get money from anywhere else, so let’s get it from OFOH.” Of the number of applications that we’ve received and approved, some of those grants were cut down significantly because the a lot of the applications was simply, “We haven’t got money is our operating budget, so let’s just get money from OFOH.” OFOH has a very rigorous allocations committee and they take a keen look at these applications. Secondly, the applications go first to the relevant department directors in the Diocesan Centre, so there’s also a great amount of pre-screening involved before the Allocations Committee sees it. Also, it has to have the area bishop’s endorsement. Also, many of these grants are tranched, so the Allocations Committee knows that if there are benchmarks, so the expectation is that applicant will have to show that they’re hit the benchmarks, and if they don’t, the funds won’t flow.

Question: The deadlines are April 15 and Sept. 15? How long after that will you find out when the award has been granted?
Answer: (Mr. Robertson answered): the Diocesan Council meetings take place within about 10 days of the Allocations Committee meeting, and they received our recommendations. Once Diocesan Council has made its decision, those decisions are conveyed almost immediately. So it’s about a month in total from the deadline.

Question: Is there a publication of all successful grant applications, so we can see how people have done their proposals and succeeded?
Answer: (Archdeacon Hardy answered): The need for a published list was taken under advisement.

Question: What are the average size of the grants issued thus far?
Answer: The largest amount that has been given out in its entirety is $130,000. There are smaller ones that are $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000. One multiple-year is for just under $300,000. Another multi-year grant went to Wycliffe College.

Question: Does the Allocations Committee or some other body evaluate the performance of the programs for which you made grants? Do you have specific milestone metrics that you use to evaluate?
Answer: (Bishop Yu answered): The Allocations Committee is a granting agency. At every other level, for the Ministry Allocation Fund and the area Ministry Development Fund, they usually require a report, and funds are released according to the whether the project reaches certain benchmarks or not. In terms of those grants, it requires the area bishop to endorse it. With OFOH, the area bishop is consulted. I think it is very wise if you are thinking about applying for a grant, to talk to me first. Sometimes as an area bishop I’m put into impossible situations where everything is already done and then people come to me and say, “Bishop please give me 100 % support” and that makes life very difficult. I’m part of the ministry, and I’d like to be part of the discussions as well. (Mr. Robertson added): What the bishop has said about the Ministry Allocation Fund grants is also true of the OFOH process.

Question: I’m interested in learning about the different innovative ministries. How are they shared so that we can learn from them?
Answer: (Mr. Stuart Mann, the director of Communications, answered): We will publish the stories in The Anglican as they become available. Typically it takes a few months from the time a parish receives a grant to the time the project is underway and they’re ready to tell their story. So yes, have been telling the stories and will continue to do so, but it will take time to allow them to get up and running.

Question: I suggest that the Allocations Committee share the successful application projects with other parishes that would be suitable for this, so these projects can be replicated across the Diocese.
Answer: (Mr. Robertson answered): That’s a great suggestion. That’s not under the mandate of the Allocations Committee, but that’s a really good suggestion and we should work to ensure that happens.

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

The meeting ended with a hymn and a prayer.