The Diocese of New Westminster has donated $300,000 to a national Anglican Church program designed to increase stewardship and planned giving across the country.

The program, called "Letting Down the Nets," has been developed by the financial management and development committee of the national church. It is designed to rebuilt and strengthen the financial resources of the national church, which were depleted by the costs of the residential schools lawsuits.

"It will have long term benefits for the whole Canadian Church, including our own diocese," reported David Rushton, chair of New Westminster's Stewardship Development Committee, one of the people who created the program.

New Westminster is the first diocese to put up money. The entire program has been budgeted at about $3.2 million over four years.

One of the goals of the program is to work out ways to coordinate future fundraising efforts at the national and local levels so they don't compete with one another. Other goals include stewardship demonstrations or pilot projects in each of the Church's four ecclesiatical provinces, increased giving in other dioceses, and a planned giving and major gifts program.

The group setting up the plan believes that the Anglican Church of Canada could potentially raise between $50 and $100 million through planned giving and major gifts over the next ten years.

People involved in national stewardship and planned giving have been working on the plan since 2001. It found that many dioceses are caught in a downward "spiral" of limited resources for stewardship and inadequate infrastructure, and that "an intentional cross-sharing of resources, programs and financial support," across the country could help the whole Church.

Rushton said that he believes that the Diocese of New Westminster due to its long term investment in Planned Giving can give leadership nationally.

The "Letting Down the Nets" program to rebuild financial resources is a companion to the national church's "Serving God's World" program for increased ministry in a number of areas, including youth ministry.

Diocesan Council approved a transfer of money from the diocesan Small Estate Fund to pay for the grant. It also authorized use of another $200,000 from the same fund to purchase $1 million in paid up life insurance, proceeds of which are to be returned to the Small Estate Fund.