On October 27, 2021, Diocesan Council (DC), the governing body, “the Synod between Synods” of the Diocese of New Westminster met in a hybrid format of onsite and online via Zoom for the first time in Covidtide. Little did everyone know that the Omicron variant was brewing in South Africa and the Fifth Wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was on the horizon. The DC meeting January 19, 2022, was a return to online via Zoom with Council member Willow Martin-Seedhouse at the controls.
Two very important pieces of business were successfully completed at this meeting, both with the unanimous assent of Council:
Treasurer, Bob Hardy, ODNW spoke to the précis of the motion regarding Assessment Relief for Parishes – 1st Quarter of 2022, which is as follows:
“Given the rate increases in insurance, payroll and other operating costs as well as diminishing offerings in 2021, the Treasurer believes that many parishes will be aided by not being required to pay their fair share assessment for the first quarter of 2022. This will eliminate any other assessment relief applications for the duration of 2022.
As of this writing, the Synod Office has received appeals from several parishes regarding their fair share assessments for 2022.”
The following Motion was carried with unanimous approval:
THAT Diocesan Council will not charge fair share assessments to parishes from January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2022 in order to mitigate the surge of inflation and the ongoing financial impact of COVID-19 on parishes. This fair share assessment relief addresses all further appeals of parishes regarding fair share assessments for 2022.
The treasurer stressed in his address to DC encouraging their support that the current list of appeals from several parishes requesting assessment relief was a major factor in the development of the motion. The approval of this motion clears the slate of current assessment appeals.
The diocesan Finance Department will be communicating directly with each parish. Following the motion being carried Bishop Stephens thanked the treasurer for his quick action on the development of the motion and said that this three-month relief will be a "huge help to the parishes of our diocese."
The Vice-Chancellor, Kevin Smith, ODNW presented the Précis of the motion on the return of Virtual Vestry meetings for 2022.
It is as follows:
“ In its August 24, 2020 meeting, Diocesan Council passed a resolution permitting virtual vestry meetings “for as long as the state of emergency relating to the Covid-19 pandemic persists.”
The provincial state of emergency declared under the Emergency Program Act ended on July 1, 2021.
In light of the continuing Covid-19 situation, and in particular the rise in cases as a result of the omicron variant, a number of Parishes have asked for confirmation that the authority to hold virtual vestry meetings will continue.”
Vice-Chancellor Smith’s address was very brief as the précis of the motion is comprehensive.
The motion, carried unanimously is as follows:
1. THAT the Bishop’s Office may clarify to Parishes that,
a. any Vestry meetings (whether annual Vestry meetings or extraordinary Vestry meetings) held in 2022 may be held electronically (including either “fully remote” meetings or meetings with hybrid remote/in-person attendance); and
b. for all Vestry meetings, including virtual vestry meetings, notice requirements under Canon 9.8 remain in effect; and
2. the Bishop’s Office may, in consultation with Diocesan Legal Officers, provide guidance to Parishes as to best practices and issues to consider, in relation to such meetings.
The January 19 meeting also included a presentation by three principals of the Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC): Executive Director, Scott Brubacher; Gift Consultant, the Very Reverend Peter Wall; Development Consultant, Michelle Hauser recapping their 2021 grant year with an emphasis on the $91,500 granted to projects in the Diocese of New Westminster. These grants to our diocese included seven “Say Yes! to Kids” grant awards and six building, program and bursary grants. The three guests also promoted their upcoming 2022 campaign plan. A .PDF of that presentation is available linked here and below.
The next meeting of Diocese Council will take place online via Zoom, 6pm, March 16, 2022.