Anglicans help ensure Bishop of Toronto’s ministry

Posted on July 25, 2019

By Stuart Mann

Anglicans in the diocese have made a significant investment in the future. Due to a successful campaign that raised $1.5 million for The John Strachan Trust, they’ve helped to ensure that the ministry of the Bishop of Toronto will be funded for generations to come.

“We’ve put a stake in the ground that helps us build into the future, that says we plan to be here for a very long time,” says Bishop Andrew Asbil, the 12th and current Bishop of Toronto.

He thanked all those who took part in the campaign, which began last spring and ended with a reception at the Cathedral Centre on June 28. “I want to express a word of deep gratitude for the ministry of Anglicans across the diocese, and for their generous support of this program in particular,” he says.

Bishop Andrew Asbil presides at the ordination of the Rev. Morning Wang at St. George on Yonge.

Bishop Andrew Asbil presides at the ordination of the Rev. Morning Wang at St. George on Yonge, Toronto in May. Photo by Michael Hudson

With the completion of the campaign, The John Strachan Trust now stands at about $9 million. The trust provides most of the funding for the office of the Bishop of Toronto, with the rest coming from the diocese’s operating budget. The trust is expected to be able to fully fund the office by 2022, when all pledges to the recent campaign are expected to be fulfilled. The costs of the office include the bishop’s stipend, housing, travel, support staff costs and other expenses related to his or her ministry.

The Bishop of Toronto is the chief pastor of the diocese, working with four suffragan bishops to provide episcopal oversight to some 230 congregations and ministries in 183 parishes. The diocese extends from Mississauga to Brighton and north to Haliburton.

In addition to chairing Synod and other important meetings of the diocese, the Bishop of Toronto advocates on behalf of the poor, presides at confirmations and ordinations, and institutes clergy into their new parishes. The Bishop of Toronto is the diocese’s chief evangelist, teaching, preaching and interpreting the gospel in parishes and the wider community.

Endowing the office of the Bishop of Toronto is an important way to ensure the future of the Church, says Stephen Rodaway, ODT, chair of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation, the body that administers The John Strachan Trust.

“As a lifelong Anglican, I’ve inherited the Church, and I need to make sure it’s there for future generations, whether its my children or my grandchildren,” he says. “The John Strachan Trust is a perfect example of how we can do that. It ensures that the support for the Bishop of Toronto is always there.”

He says he was impressed by the response to the campaign. “Anglicans never cease to amaze me. When they’re asked and there’s a good reason to give, they will give. They’re always willing to help and lend a hand.”

Blake Goldring, ODT, a member of St. Clement, Eglinton and the Bishop’s Company, says the endowment supports the Church’s leadership. “When you see leaders up close, you realize it can be lonely at the top. Challenges can be quite daunting, especially in the face of limited time and financial resources. To the extent this fund can assist our bishop in achieving his goals with less stress and friction, that is a highly desirable outcome.”

He praised Anglicans for their support of the campaign. “It is a great accomplishment and testament to the commitment among Anglicans in our community to ensure that our bishop is able to fulfil his mission in the best way possible,” he says.

Michael Cassabon, manager of major gifts and legacy giving for the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation, said the campaign was a learning experience. Mr. Cassabon launched the campaign – his first in the diocese – shortly after taking up his position last year.

“One of the things I learned is that people have a great love for the diocese, the Church and the bishops, both past and present,” he says. “I heard so many good things about Archbishop Terence Finlay and Archbishop Colin Johnson, and about the hope, leadership and gifts that Bishop Asbil brings.”

He says it was often donors’ personal connections to the bishops that inspired them to give. “They wanted to honour not only the office of the Bishop of Toronto but the individuals themselves,” he says.

He singled out Mr. Goldring, ODT, for his support and enthusiasm. In addition to making a large donation, he introduced Mr. Cassabon to others who could give major gifts. “To have someone of Blake’s stature accompany me really affirmed the importance of the work we’re doing. For Blake to invest his time in our campaign was really gratifying. It was an honour to work with him.”  

The dream of endowing the office of the Bishop of Toronto began more than 160 years ago with Bishop John Strachan, the diocese’s founder. “His dream was for a secure foundation for the Church, knowing that change happens as we go from generation to generation,” says Mr. Cassabon. “It’s helpful to know we now have the resources to help with that change, to make us more nimble and adaptable to fulfil our mission. I think that was Bishop Strachan’s dream, and this is one of the ways that we have realized it.”