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It was a dark and rainy January evening, and the Bishop commended the 31 council members who came through the rain to attend. It would be a meeting with a momentous decision to make, the Bishop said, referring to the agenda item on Camp Artaban. In the Opening Prayer, the Bishop asked that the council be given guidance to “think more deeply about its opportunities and challenges.”
Bishop Michael noted that it was the first Diocesan Council meeting at which the Ven. Douglas Fenton was beside him as Executive Archdeacon. In December the Bishop appointed Douglas to succeed the Ven. Ronald Harrison, who retired at the end of the year.
The Bishop announced that all council members are  invited to a wine and cheese reception, Wednesday, January 23rd at St. John's, Shaughnessy to learn more about the work of the Compass Rose Society and greet Canon John Peterson, the new president of the Society. The Compass Rose Society supports the work of the Anglican Communion. Canon Peterson served as the secretary general of the Anglican Communion from 1995 to 2005.
At the December meeting, the Bishop announced he would propose setting up a “Reconnect Task Force” to reflect on the work of and the reaction to the special Diocesan Synod held on November 17 at St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale. The group is to study how to reconnect relationships within the Diocese—parish to parish, parish to deanery, parish leadership to Diocese, parish leadership to Diocesan Committees, the parishes and the Diocese to the National Church, and the parishes and Diocese to the Anglican Communion.
Members of the task force are to sift through the material, sift the important from the less important, reflect on it, and come up with recommendations for Diocesan Council to take to the regular annual Diocesan Synod next May. Members appointed (with the possibility of addition to their number) were the Ven. John Stephens (chair), Jack Blatchford, Cameron Gutjahr, the Rev. Faun Harriman, Carol Tindall, and the Ven. Douglas Fenton (staff).

In camera
Ex camera

As suggested by legal officers Chancellor George Cadman and Registrar Donald Paul, the council voted to make public several motions taken in camera. They involved the future of Camp Artaban.
The council adopted a motion that a Christian Camping Ministry Vision/Implementation team be formed. It is to include representatives for diocesan youth ministry and the Ministry and Congregational Development Committee (MCDC), people with experience in developing camping ministry and effective management. The group is to develop a long time vision for a camping ministry in the Diocese—not limited to the Camp Artaban site—and open to include forms such as residential camp, day programs, and opportunities for children, youth, and families. By October 2013 the team—yet to be named—is to come up with a ministry plan for Christian camping for 2014 and beyond.
As for Camp Artaban in 2013, Diocesan Council decided to recommend that the Camp Artaban Society immediately cease operating the camp on Gambier Island, pending completion of the work of the Camping Ministry task force. If the Society agrees, the Diocese will fund shutdown costs (about $130,500).
Diocese Council however did not decide to recommend that the Camp Artaban property be sold—whether or not to retain and reopen beyond 2013 should be decided after receiving the Camping Ministry task force’s recommendations in the fall.
Diocesan Council made the decision in light of reports from a Camp Artaban Diocesan Review Team, the Administration and Finance Committee (A&F), and the Ministry and Congregational Development Committee (MCDC). All expressed concern about the cost of continuing the camp’s operation through 2013—estimated at $346,000 or more by A+F—and in view of continuing deficits.
In line with a recommendation from MCDC, Diocesan Council asked that the Camping Ministry task force find appropriate pastoral care and healing where necessary with current Camp Artaban staff and volunteers, and make sure they are included in the conversation around a new vision for camping ministry.
The Ven. John Stephens recommended that the Diocese keep the Artaban “brand” alive, even if the Gambier Island facility is not opened, by using the name Artaban this summer in the labeling of programs for youth.

The Bishop proposed and the council agreed to the appointment of Peter Bernard, a maritime lawyer, as a Diocesan representative on the Mission to Seafarers board.
The Bishop told Council members that Sorrento Centre was undertaking a $6 million capital campaign and had asked the Diocese for a major gift. Bishop Michael said he had given not commitment, but appointed an ad hoc group to come up with a recommendation for Diocesan Council in March. Members are Ian Robertson, Diocesan treasurer; Gordon Lee; the Rev. Kelly Duncan; and Phil Colvin (staff).
The meeting closed with Executive Archdeacon Douglas Fenton noting that the 19th anniversary of Bishop Michael’s consecration would take place the next day, January 9. He said the Bishop was valued by his people for his leadership, spirit, generosity, and his “tremendous amount of energy.” Douglas’ remarks brought a round of applause.
Images: Top, the Venerable G Douglas Fenton attends his first Diocesan Council meeting as Executive Archdeacon. Middle, Treasurer, Bishop and Chancellor. Lower and Homepage, the legal officers of the diocese prepare for the meeting.

Diocesan Council is the decision making, governing body of the Diocese of New Westminster consisting of:
the Diocesan Officers (Bishop, Dean, Executive Archdeacon, Chancellor, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer)
the Archdeacons of the five Archdeaconries
the Archdeacon who is the Director of Deacons
two additional Diocesan Legal Officers, (Registrar and Legal Assessor)
a Lay Secretary, a Clergy Secretary,
the chairs of the Diocesan Standing Committees
there are two Deanery reps either Ordained or Lay. Sometimes Deaneries have two lay reps and sometimes two clergy reps, sometimes one of each. A Deanery is a group of churches, geographically affiliated and the reps are elected at the Annual Synod Meeting.
Synod Staff also attend meetings but are not members of Diocesan Council. They include: Business Administrator, Stewardship and Planned Giving Officer, Comptroller, Youth Coordinator and Communications Officer (and other staff as required).
Diocesan Synod consists of all the active clergy in the Diocese of New Westminster and 2-6 lay people elected from each diocesan parish proportionate to the size of the parish community.
Diocesan Council functions as the Synod between Synods, it is a representation of the large group that meets annually.
Diocesan Council and Diocesan Synod are both chaired by the Bishop.
Diocesan Council meets monthly on the second Tuesday of the month usually at St. Augustine, Marpole at 7:30pm. Diocesan Council is adjourned for the months of July and August.