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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

Our diocesan Synod is only two weeks away, and I can’t wait!

I have always enjoyed Synod – perhaps that makes me a bit unusual – so I’m very much looking forward to being “together” again, even if our gathering this year is a virtual one. I will miss being able to see everyone face to face. I will miss sharing stories and catching up at the social times or perusing the display tables. And of course, I dearly wish we could all worship together in-person for one of our grand and joyful diocesan family Eucharists. God willing, next year.

Synod gives us the opportunity to dive into the business of the Church – Christ’s mission to God’s world. How we define and articulate, fund and live out our ministry as the Diocese of Toronto over the coming months and years is critically important, especially as we emerge from pandemic.

One of the motions I have been asked about is Motion 12, found on page 21 in Section A of the Convening Circular, entitled “Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and Communities.” Diocesan Council has given its recommendation for adoption. This motion is born out of what many feel is the stirring of the Holy Spirit in our Church: a call to tithe to Indigenous communities 10% of funds from the sale of diocesan real estate.

This motion provides an opportunity for our Diocese to commit to Call to Action #61 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “We call upon Church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for: i.) Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects, ii.) Community-controlled culture and language revitalization projects, iii.) Community-controlled education and relationship building projects, iv.) Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self-determination, and reconciliation.”

Rather than naming an external agency as the designated recipient of these funds, we intend to consult and partner with Indigenous peoples in this Diocese and beyond, to engage with them in ministry projects and to listen and learn so we may grow together in our mutual understanding and restoring of relationships.

Motion 12’s preamble outlines the Diocese of Toronto’s existing and continuing commitment to the work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This includes some substantial financial gifts we’ve made from the Ministry Allocation Fund, which repurposes proceeds from the sale of surplus property. This fund was a result of the Capital Redeployment Policy of 2003, which states that “We must always remember that we have inherited the Church today and its assets from earlier generations… We have a responsibility to future generations to consider the ongoing work of the Church and the, as yet, unknown needs of future generations whenever we make decisions.”

Last week we prayed, studied and contemplated how we can all live into our responsibilities as Treaty People on this territory. An ongoing commitment of a 10% tithe from the MAF would be a tangible step towards restoring the treaty relationship between the Diocese and Indigenous peoples.

This past summer, as scores of unmarked graves of Indigenous children were recovered on the grounds of former residential schools, we were confronted once again with the horror of the abuse inflicted on whole communities and the tragedy of our Church’s participation in an evil system. As I mentioned in my letter last Friday, we are also reconsidering and acknowledging the Land on which we reside. There are many theological, historical, cultural and moral questions to ponder when we reflect on the concept of “property.” Motion 12 makes a first attempt at regularizing the sale of our “property” by committing to prioritize a cumulative tithe to the work of reconciliation.

I commend this motion to our prayerful attention, and I encourage the Members of Synod to consider the merits of making this kind of decision together. Here is an opportunity to make a real, systemic change in our practices to demonstrate our commitment to right relations with the Indigenous peoples of this land.

See you at Synod!

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto


P.S. Another upcoming event I’m excited about is an online Advent study that I’m leading with Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat, co-chair of the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care. It’s called “Reading the Bible from the Margins,” and I would love to have you join us for four Sunday evenings starting Nov. 21, over Zoom. For more information or to register for this free series, visit