People in the diocese will have a chance in September to learn about and comment on options for new ways to carry out and fund diocesan ministries beginning in 2006.
Six meetings have been scheduled in early to mid September by the diocesan Administration and Finance Committee – one in each of the diocese’s five archdeaconry’s, and a sixth for parishes on the Sunshine Coast.
Clergy, wardens, treasurers and all synod delegates are all being encouraged urged to attend, and the meetings are open to all other interested parishioners.
In June Diocesan Synod voted to accept in principle all 19 recommendations presented to it after a year of study by a task force on diocesan ministry and outreach.
The recommendations included next year winding up Stewards in Action (SIA), the voluntary program of giving that has supported most diocesan outreach programs over the last 15 years – as well as covering many diocesan administrative costs.
A second meeting of the 400-member Diocesan Synod is scheduled for Nov. 26, at which delegates will vote on a new way of doing diocesan outreach – and paying for it. Currently diocesan outreach program receive about a third of all the money the diocese spends.
Treasurer Jim Steward, who chairs Administration and Finance Committee, said that several options will be presented at the archdeaconry meetings, in hopes of finding a scheme acceptable to most people in the diocese.
As outlined at synod, the new funding system is expected to have several diocesan ministries put in the diocese’s base budget, including support for Camp Artaban, Sorrento Centre, Vancouver School of Theology, Education for Ministry, and Mission to Seafarers, as well as funding for several current program units.
In addition there is to be a new diocesan program which asks for voluntary contributions from parishes and individuals. All this money would be collected and spent on a “dollar in, dollar out” basis – with administrative costs charged to the core budget.
The task force said it important that all administrative “overhead” be paid out of parish apportionments – the money that parishes are expected to send on to the diocese – and not from voluntary donations.
This could mean some increase in parish apportionments, which are currently 12.1 per cent of parish revenues. (In addition, the top 50 per cent of parishes are expected to pay approximately another 1.9 per cent into the Diocesan Growth Fund.)
According to Business Administrator Mike Wellwood, the apportionment figure in the Diocese of New Westminster is among the lowest in the Canadian church.
However, the task force’s recommended, and Diocesan Synod agreed, that any new way of raising money that replaces SIA must recognize “the financial stress for the most vulnerable parishes.”