Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew and Robert Saffrey

Posted on May 22, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.

These words of greeting from Paul’s letter to the Philippians express so wonderfully the gratitude, wonder and awe that we feel when we think of you. Since the day we suspended worship in our buildings on March 15, we have watched how our parishes, congregations and ministries have sprung into action with newfound energy. The labours of all our clergy and lay leaders in these difficult times has been truly inspiring. Thanks be to God for you!

As a measure of financial support for the ministries of the Diocese of Toronto in this time of crisis, Diocesan Council announced a Jubilee. Congregations were relieved from having to bear the expense of clergy payroll and allotment for the months of April and May. When Diocesan Council granted the relief on March 26, it was financed by borrowing money pledged against two vacant properties that will likely be sold to pay for the cost of the Jubilee, which is approximately $3.6 million. After the Council meeting in March, the government announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS) that provides a rebate of up to 75% of the costs of an employee’s wages, to a maximum amount. It is estimated that a total rebate of $1.65 million can be achieved for the months of March, April, and May for the combined clergy and diocesan payroll.

In light of this government support, we are delighted to announce that at the May 14 meeting of the Executive Board and Trusts Committee, the Jubilee for parish payments for allotment and clergy costs was extended to include the month of June.

As the plans for start-up continue to be developed by the province, it is still unclear when we will be allowed to re-open our buildings for worship. Plans are well underway in the Diocese to develop protocols for congregations to follow to ensure a safe return. We recognize that the process for coming back will likely take more time than we anticipate. We need to be careful, cautious and prudent. It was in recognition of this that the Executive Board and Trusts made the decision to use the CEWS rebate to fund a Jubilee for the month of June.

We hope and pray that this further financial support will help our ministries to continue to thrive through this challenging time. It is important to note, however, that even though the CEWS has recently been extended to August, parishes must plan for a resumption of payments for clergy costs and allotment starting in July. Your efforts now in communication and stewardship education will help to prepare for that.

We are grateful every day for your ministry and service, for your acts of kindness and compassion, for your proclaiming of the gospel in every corner of the Diocese. May we all continue to walk in the light of our risen and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil

Bishop of Toronto

Robert Saffrey

Executive Director