Thinking about taxes, er... ministry

There’s a temptation to think of assessments – the amount of money that parishes send to the diocese monthly – as “taxes” – with all the negative connotations that word brings.  It’s hard not to.

But it’s more useful to focus on what assessments do. Some expenditures are unavoidable. You’ve got to pay your bishop, and support him or her.

And, money is required if you expect services from the diocese for parishes (e.g., curate support, clergy replacement, etc.) or support for clergy (professional development, conferences and retreats, health benefits for retired clergy).

But the largest portion of the budget is now devoted to diocesan ministry and outreach.

It’s true that most ministries in this diocese is carried out on the local level. Parishes provide community meals, help for the homeless, food banks, music and art, and so on. Many larger parishes have the resources to support quite substantial programs, and even do international mission.

The generous support by St. David, Delta, for the Emmanuel Children’s Home in Tijuana, detailed elsewhere in this issue, is one example. Another is Christ Church Cathedral’s support of the Bochabello project to help build a community health centre in Soweto, South Africa, where HIV/AIDS has ravaged lives.

Still, there is a strong argument for diocesan ministry, too: helping do our part of the world-wide Anglican Mission to Seafarers; reaching out to children, many of them non-church going, at Camp Artaban; supporting diocesan programs like Education for Ministry and the Vancouver School of Theology. And then there are ministries through the national church to fund the Church of the North, and Partners in Mission.

Diocesan ministry has a role. It makes more sense to do some things as a diocese than as parishes or as individuals.

Of course we should look hard at diocesan expenditures and try to find efficiencies. And, over time, some things that may have made sense as diocesan ministries no longer do. That’s what diocesan committees, councils, and synods have to decide.

When we look at assessments at taxes, we can be tempted to look upon them as something that drags our parishes down. But if we look upon them as giving us the means for our joint ministry together, we get a different perspective.

Giving as individuals, as parishes, as a diocesan, or nationally – we are called to give on all levels. Our task is to find the right balance. And not to grumble about “taxes.”

A plug for newspapers, including this one

This may sound a bit self-serving - okay, it is - but I think one way for New Westminster Anglicans to relieve pressure on parish assessment rates is to donate to the joint Anglican Journal / TOPIC Annual Appeal.


Last year over $13,000 came to help defray TOPIC’s expenses through the appeal. This by no means covers all of what is needed – with the cost of paper and postage regularly rising – but it goes a long way.

Through a shared revenue agreement, half of your donation goes to the Anglican Journal / TOPIC Appeal goes to the national paper, and half to TOPIC. This arrangement enables us to participate in an appeal we never could organize alone.

TOPIC and the Anglican Journal and the other diocesan papers cooperate in many ways. They’re all printed in Goderich, Ontario, which means earlier deadlines but a significant financial saving.

More important, by working with the Journal we receive a postal subsidy through Heritage Canada. It means postage only costs us about a dime per copy. Without that, postage would cost at least four times as much – and make sending out over 10,000 issues very expensive indeed.

So, with help from the national church, we can communicate in this diocese very economically, ten months a year. It means every Anglican individual or family on a parish roll in this diocese gets two very informative publications without having to pay directly for a subscription. This means TOPIC can reach the maximum audience.

In September’s issue of the Journal (if you still have it around) was a postage paid envelope for donations to the annual Anglican Journal / TOPIC Appeal.

Otherwise, the address is Anglican Journal Appeal, 80 Hayden Street, PO Box 12271, Station B, Toronto, Ontario, M7Y 2K1. Or you can donate online through a link to Canada Helps on the Anglican Journal website,

If you appreciate this paper and the Anglican Journal (or either of them), why not donate today?

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