The following is a report from the Trent-Durham Pre-Synod meeting, held Oct. 14 at St. Thomas, Brooklin.
The meeting opened with a prayer, a welcome, introductions and an overview of the agenda by Bishop Riscylla Shaw, the area bishop of Trent-Durham.
Overview of Synod
Synod members watched two videos: “What to Expect at Synod” and “A Message from the Archbishop.” Ms. Pamela Boisvert, the Secretary of Synod, spoke about the date and location of Synod, the Convening Circular, the agenda, motions and Synod sponsors.
Since Synod 2015
The Rev. Canon Claire Wade, the Honorary Secretary of Synod, presented the Priorities and Plans 2015-2017 Narrative Report, which is found in Section B of the Convening Circular. Since the document’s approval by Synod in November 2015, the Diocese has embarked on a strategic planning process that culminated in Diocesan Council approving a new strategic plan, Growing in Christ, in June 2016. The narrative report contains highlights of notable accomplishments as the Diocese transitioned to Growing in Christ. The report covers the period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.
Canon Wade also presented Diocesan Council’s Report to Synod, which can be found in Section C of the Convening Circular. This report contains a list of members, a summary of all policy and major items discussed or approved by Council, and a summary of diocesan grants, loans and other funding. Canon Wade highlighted two items in the report:
- The first is Growing in Christ, starting on Page 5. She urged Synod members to familiarize themselves with this section, particularly the Working Groups that have been formed as a result of implementing Growing in Christ. At Synod, members will hear from the chairs of the Working Groups, or their designate, about the work they have accomplished to date and their work for the coming year.
- The second is the section on Diocesan Grants, Loans and Other Funding, starting on Page 16. Over $19 million in grants and loans were awarded from 37 different granting and funding streams from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.
Bishop Shaw gave some highlights from Trent-Durham. She said a variety of missional ministries and disciple-growing initiatives are happening in the area. These include:
- The Rev. Augusto Nunez is in a new area ministry position, working with migrant workers. He provides spiritual support and social activities for the workers, ensuring that they have a pastoral relationship with the Church when they live in Canada and have every chance to be a part of their local community.
- With input and guidance from the Diocese’s Congregational Development department, there is a new spirit of community engagement growing at St. Paul, Lindsay, including a youth group and cooking classes.
- Haliburton County, led by parishioners from St. George’s, sponsored a Syrian refugee family. The Parish of Fenelon Falls and Coboconk is engaged in reconciliation work with Indigenous peoples. The Education for Ministry program is energetic and growing, as is ongoing lay readers’ training and engagement.
- Area Council meets four times a year and opens with prayer and Bible study in the form of Gospel-based discipleship. The Area Council also disbursed grants to support ministry initiatives and creative discipleship opportunities, for example, the Migrant Worker Ministry, Messy Church outreach, Warming Room Community Ministries, an HIV/AIDS resource worker, the Peterborough clergy retreat, an area clergy development retreat and more.
Bishop Shaw said that Synod members will be asked to consider two motions. Diocesan Council forwards these motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the document entitled Priorities and Plans 2015-2017 – Narrative Report”; and “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the document entitled Diocesan Council’s Report to Synod.”
Ms. Kathryn Rogers, the Treasurer and Director of Finance, presented the Financial Report for 2016, the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, and the Audited Financial Statements for the Cemetery Fund of the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, all of which are found in Section D of the Convening Circular. Synod will be asked to consider the following motions. Diocesan Council forwards these motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the Financial Report for 2016 from the Treasurer and Director of Finance”; and “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto and the Cemetery Fund for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016”; and “It will be moved and seconded that the firm Grant Thornton LLP, Chartered Accountants, be appointed to conduct the audit of the Financial Statements of the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto and the Cemetery Fund for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, at a fee to be approved by the Audit Committee.” Bishop Shaw asked Synod members if they had any questions and there were none.
Budget Presentation – Priorities and Plans 2017-2019
Ms. Susan Abell, the Diocese’s interim Chief Administrative Officer, presented the Priorities and Plans 2017-2019, which is found in Section E of the Convening Circular.
These are the priorities for the next two years as set out by Archbishop Colin Johnson. The report is aligned with Growing in Christ, our strategic plan, and also provides comments on our operational support.
Budget Presentation – Budget Development Process
The Rev. Joan Cavanaugh-Clark of the Budget Working Group spoke about the process that the Budget Working Group used to prepare the budgets for 2018 and 2019. The purpose of a budget is to lay out the projected income and expenditures for an annual period and to serve as a framework to guide the organization’s finances. The budgeting process for the Diocese takes place every two years. Here are the steps that were taken:
- The Archbishop provided the Priorities and Plans 2017-2019 document as guidance for preparing the budget.
- Historically, the next step was for the Fiscal Framework Working Group to meet to ensure that the resource implications and requirements of the Archbishop’s Priorities and Plans would be achieved as best as possible. In the current year, it was determined that the Budget Working Group would include this as part of its mandate.
- The Budget Working Group membership was approved by Diocesan Council with the mandate of having oversight over the budget development process, including reviewing draft budgets for reasonability, affordability and alignment with strategy.
- The Compensation Working Group was consulted for recommendations on compensation for Diocesan Centre staff.
- The Investment Committee was consulted as to an appropriate dividend rate payable on funds held in the Consolidated Trust fund.
- The Diocesan Leadership Team completed budget templates and written documentation to support their requests.
- The budget submissions were compiled and a first draft of the budget was prepared.
- The draft budget was presented to the Budget Working Group with a number of items for discussion. The budget was balanced after a number of alterations were made to ensure affordability.
- During the afternoon session of Diocesan Council on May 27, the budget was presented and discussed. Diocesan Council approved recommendation of the budget to Synod.
- Presentations will be made at each of the areas during Pre-Synod meetings providing the opportunity to ask questions.
- Final approval at Synod.
The members of the Budget Working Group were thanked. The group comprises Ms. Joyce Badley, CPA, CA, MDiv., the Rev. Dr. Eric Beresford, the Rev. Joan Cavanaugh-Clark, Ms. Yvonne Murray, Mr. Peter Patterson, Mr. Eric Preston, Archbishop Colin Johnson, Ms. Susan Abell, MSW, ODT, and Ms. Kathryn Rogers, CPA, CA.
Budget Presentation – Financial Picture and Assessment Rate
Ms. Kathryn Rogers presented the Financial Picture, which is found in Section E of the Convening Circular, and the Assessment Rate, which is found in Section F of the Convening Circular. Synod will be asked to consider the following motions. Diocesan Council forwards the motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod receive the documents Priorities and Plans 2017-2019 and the Financial Budget 2018-2019 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”; and “It will be MOVED and SECONDED that the Parish Assessment Rate, as defined in Canon 4, section 2, be set at 24.70% for 2018, and 24.70% for 2019.”
Bishop Shaw asked Synod members if they had any questions.
Q: What strategies are we looking at to address the issue of a declining revenue stream from amalgamations and closings of rural parishes? Do we have budget strategies to address that?
A: That was taken into account when we were looking at allotment. We went through every parish to think about what’s the possible path for them for the next few years, from a financial perspective. Normally, from a budgeting perspective, we would take whatever number is in the system and assume it’s true with a small allowance, but this year we took an allowance against what we expect to see coming in over the next two years so that we can really be prepared. Further to that, we’re starting to think about some other funding models that we can use in the future.
Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries
The Rev. Canon Ted McCollum spoke about the work of the Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries. The group was formed to put into action the recommendations in a report by the Multicultural Committee of the Diocese. The working group has worked on several projects, including cataloging multilingual and multicultural services within the Diocese, making recommendations for several languages on the diocesan website, and the creation of an anti-racism program that will eventually cover all clergy and parishes in the Diocese. The program has already started with the Momentum group, and will be integrated in the Fresh Start group, eventually leading to all leadership in the Diocese taking part in the program. This has been a huge undertaking but a tangible result of the working group’s continuation of the good work done before it.
The following were elected to Diocesan Council: the Rev. Jesse Parker, incumbent of St. John the Evangelist, Port Hope; Ms. Leslie Hajdu, ODT, St. George, Pickering Village (Ajax); and Mr. Lawrence (Larry) Barker, St. Luke, Burnt River.
Constitution and Canon Changes
Canon Clare Burns, the Diocese’s Chancellor, presented the proposed Constitution and Canon changes, which are found in Section G of the Convening Circular. Synod will be asked to consider the following motions. Diocesan Council forwards these motions to Synod with the recommendation that they be adopted: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the changes to The Constitution, as recommended for approval by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular”; and “It will be moved and second that Synod approve the changes to Canon 10-Clerical Appointments, Exchanges, Retirements, and Terminations, as recommended for approval by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular”; and “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve the changes to Canon 15-Churchwardens, as recommended for approval by Diocesan Council and presented in the Convening Circular.”
Notices of Motion
Canon Burns informed Synod members that on Sept. 21, 2017, Archbishop Colin Johnson informed members of Diocesan Council in writing that he would be asking Synod to concur with his request for the election of a Coadjutor Bishop for the Diocese of Toronto. The Electoral Synod would be held in the middle of 2018. Archbishop Johnson plans to retire at the end of December 2018. Synod will be asked to consider the following motion: “It will be moved and seconded that Synod approve that there be an election of a Coadjutor Bishop in 2018.”
Canon Burns informed Synod members that the Secretary of Synod had received a Notice of Motion from the Rev. Canon David Harrison and seconded by the Rev. Gary van der Meer on Sept. 12, 2017. The Notice of Motion was placed on the agenda of the Sept. 21, 2017 meeting of Diocesan Council. At the same meeting, the Archbishop informed Council of his intention to retire at the end of next year. Following a brief discussion, Council tabled consideration of this motion to the next meeting of Council scheduled for Oct. 19, 2017. On Oct. 11, 2017, the Secretary of Synod received a request by the mover and seconder to withdraw the Notice of Motion dated Sept. 12, 2017 and received a new Notice of Motion. This Notice of Motion will be placed on the Agenda of the Oct. 19, 2017 meeting of Diocesan Council. Diocesan Council will be asked whether it wishes to express an opinion or make a recommendation to Synod regarding the Notice of Motion. (NOTE: At its meeting on Oct. 19, Diocesan Council voted to send the Notice of Motion to Synod with a recommendation that it be approved.) The Convening Circular will be updated on Oct. 20, 2017. Copies of the new Notice of Motion were handed out.
The Notice of Motion is as follows:
Proposed Amendments to sections 10 and 11 of the
Constitution of the Diocese of Toronto
Some dioceses have a two-thirds threshold among clergy and laity for the election of a diocesan bishop. This ensures that the cleric elected has broad support across the Diocese and is able to represent that diversity within the Anglican Church of Canada and the wider Communion. In order to strengthen the mandate of the diocesan bishop to represent the diversity of the Diocese, it is proposed that the Constitution be amended to raise the threshold for election of a diocesan bishop (or a coadjutor) to two-thirds in each order. This furthers the diocesan strategic plan, which commits us to “fostering a positive culture that is respectful and inclusive of all background and experiences.” (The election of suffragan bishops would continue to require a simple majority in each house.) It is also proposed that the nominee on each ballot with the lowest number of votes in the combined orders of clergy and laity be eliminated in each round unless a certain threshold of votes is cast for that nominee, or the number of nominees on the ballots has been reduced to fewer than four.
- Section 10 (2) is repealed and replaced with the following text:
(2) Election of the Bishop of the Diocese or a Coadjutor Bishop. The Bishop of the Diocese or a Coadjutor Bishop shall be elected from those nominated, by voting by Orders by ballot in the following manner:
- Two-thirds of the total votes validly cast in each Order shall determine the choice.
- The name of the candidate with the lowest number of votes in the combined Orders shall be eliminated in each round of voting except when:
- There are fewer than four candidates remaining; or
- The candidate with the lowest total number of votes in the combined Orders receives ten or more votes in each Order.
(3) Election of a Suffragan Bishop. A Suffragan Bishop shall be elected from those nominated, by voting by Orders by ballot in the following manner:
- A majority of the total votes validly cast in each Order shall determine the choice, provided at least one half of the Clergy and at least one half of the Lay Members of Synod, entitled to vote are present and vote.
- If fewer than one half of the Clergy or fewer than one half of the Lay Members of the Synod entitled to vote are present and vote, a cleric must secure two thirds of the votes validly cast of each such group that is deficient, in order to be elected.
- If, after twelve (12) successive ballots have been conducted at any one election, and no cleric has been elected as provided in subsection (a) and (b) herein, a further ballot shall be taken and the percentage of the Clergy voting thereat for each Cleric shall be added to the percentage of the Lay Members voting thereat for the same cleric, and the cleric who obtains the highest total of percentages shall be declared elected.
- Section 11 (3) is repealed.
Synod members were invited to ask questions:
Q: What is the percentage required now to elect a bishop?
A: 50% plus one.
Q: What happens if Diocesan Council does not wish to support this motion?
A: The motion would go forward to Synod and would require receiving approval of not less than 60% of the members of Synod present and voting at two successive Regular Sessions of Synod and receiving the assent of the Bishop following the second Synod.
Q: There is no mechanism now to go over 12 ballots – correct? This would allow someone – anyone – who receives under 50% plus one in both houses to still be elected a suffragan bishop.
A: You look at the highest total of percentages, not the numbers of votes. Let’s say that Nominee A achieved 45% of the clergy vote and 60% of the lay vote; and Nominee B achieved 55% of the clergy vote and 40% of the lay vote, Nominee A would be elected because they obtained the highest total of percentages.
Q: You mention that there’s no mechanism if you get to the 12th ballot (and there is no election). Are you referring to the election of a suffragan bishop or the election of a coadjutor/diocesan bishop?
A: A coadjutor/diocesan bishop.
Q: In the Notice of Motion, under section 2(b)(2), that looks like a mechanism – where there is a strategy to reduce the number of candidates on the ballot each time.
A: The key word in this subsection is “except.” The name of the candidate with the lowest number of votes in the combined orders shall be eliminated in each round, except when there are fewer than four candidates remaining, or if the candidate with the lowest total number of votes in the combined Orders receives ten or move votes in each Order.
Q: You mentioned that the mechanism for quorum had been removed. Is that correct?
Ms. Pamela Boisvert thanked everyone for their contributions to today’s meeting, especially St. Thomas’s for their hospitality. She urged Synod members to check the website for Synod updates at www.toronto.anglican.ca/upcomingsynod.
Bishop Shaw ended the meeting with a prayer.