The program of voluntary giving for the Diocese of New Westminster last month was named “Going the Extra Mile” by Diocesan Council.

The program replaces Stewards in Action (SIA), which was formally terminated by action of a special Diocesan Synod in late November.

All the money raised through the Going the Extra Mile program will be passed on to the charities or organizations named – in 2006 they will be the 127 Society for Housing, the South Fraser Community Services Society and the Coming Home Society.

A portion of the money given to SIA had gone to the ministry and expenses of the diocese – including money for Camp Artaban, Sorrento Centre, Mission to Seafarers, and other diocesan work. These contributions and expenses are now to be covered in the parish assessments set by synod.

The proposed new name was brought forward by Executive Archdeacon Ronald Harrison. He said it refers to the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus says that if you are required by someone to go one mile, go two (Matthew 5:41).

Harrison also pointed out that the acronym for the program, GEM, also has biblical references. In Exodus 25, God tells Moses to instruct the Israelites to bring God an offering from each person whose heart prompts a gift – including the offering of gems.

At the meeting in January, Diocesan Council formally disbanded the Stewards in Action Ministry Committee, which had decided how the money raised in the SIA campaign would be distributed.

In its place the council set up a new committee to be called the Ministry Resources Committee. This committee will include the chairs of the diocese’s seven other standing committees (or their designate) and a representative from each of the diocese’s five archdeaconries. The chair of this group will be appointed by the bishop, as are the chairs of most standing committees.

(The diocese’s eight standing committees are Administration and Finance, Grants and Loans, Ministry and Congregational Development, Stewardship Development, Communications, Planned Giving, and Ordained Ministry, and now the new Ministry Resources Committee.)

Besides recommending which organization should be included in the Going the Extra Mile program, the Ministry Resources Committee would work on the overall program of the diocese. Its mandate will be “integrated ministry,” stated a report to the council.

In yet another organizational move, Diocesan Council set up a “sub-group” to develop diocesan strategy over a three to five year planning period. Again the chairs of the diocese’s standing committees were tapped to belong to this group, along with the bishop, dean, one archdeacon, and two Diocesan Council deanery representatives.

Some concern was expressed at the amount of work being placed on the chairs of the standing committees.

“Realistically we do have to be concerned about the amount of energy we are asking from them,” said Archdeacon Christine Rowe of St. Thomas, Vancouver. Besides chairing their own committees, the “standing chairs” will have to attend meetings of the Diocesan Council, the Ministry Resources Committee, and the strategy group.

However the standing chairs present said they could handle the load. Diocesan Treasurer Jim Stewart, who chairs both the Administration and Finance and Loans and Grants committees said that meetings which help him understand the direction of the diocese would make his job easier, and Communications chair Jane Osler echoed his remarks.