Diocesan Council, the governing body of the diocese of New Westminster met for the first time in 2019, the evening of March 20 in the Trendell Lounge, the space shared by the Synod Office of the diocese and St. John’s, Shaughnessy. Council had not met since November 14, 2018, however there had been a number of email polls to continue the business of the diocese in the time between meetings. The email poll process continues to work very well.
Archbishop Skelton called the meeting to order promptly at 6:30pm following dinner and expressed her view shared by many that it seemed like a very long time since Council gathered. The meeting began with a Celebration of Evening Prayer.
There was a very full agenda, but the primary focus of the meeting was financial. Treasurer, Bob Hardy, ODNW, took centre stage for most of the meeting. He began by guiding Council through the Budget and Audited Financial Statements documents. In a clear, measured and comprehensive presentation, the treasurer highlighted a number of items in both sets of documents. His presentation prompted a number of questions and comments from Council members and concluded with approval of the 2019 Revised Budget, and the recommendation of the 2020 and 2021 Vision Budgets. Council also approved the Audited Financial Statements for the year ending December 31, 2018. These items put before Council were all met with unanimous approval. The 119th Synod of the diocese will be held May 24 and 25 at the Italian Cultural Centre.
The next item on the agenda was titled, “A Plan to re-Configure some of the Capital Funds of the Diocese of New Westminster” and the first two paragraphs of the Precis are as follows:
The Diocesan capital funds increased significantly over the past year due to the sale of property. Diocesan Council has had the practice over time to review and implement specific transparent directions as parameters when the diocese has been the beneficiary of significant sums of financial capital.
The Management, Finance and Property Committee (MFP) together with the Mission and Ministry Development Committee (MMD) wish to see the same care and due diligence be directed toward the significant financial asset realized with the recent sale of four diocesan properties. The present Mission and Ministry Fund is the depository of the sale proceeds of those four properties. It is of such size now that it is felt that the diocese would benefit from segmenting the funds into specific areas with specific criteria for each area/sub-fund.
The plan involves initiating three funds, funded from the existing Mission and Ministry Fund, and two other funds.
This fund will become two sub-funds
I. Diocesan Ministry Support Fund which will include a capital restricted section with the investment income from $15,000,000 being used to support the ongoing mission of the diocese. And an un-restricted section of $1,800,000 which includes the $600,000 committed by the diocese to the support of the new buildings planned for the Anglican Parish of the Church of the Epiphany, Surrey.
II.Diocesan Mission Endowment Fund, restricted capital: the income from this Fund should stay in the fund to build the future, unless otherwise directed by Diocesan Council upon annual review. This fund would contain an asset of $10,000,000.
This fund will be initiated by joining all the currently outstanding loans to parishes with the addition of an almost equal amount of cash to continue to allow funding of loans to parishes. Much like the system that has proven successful in the diocese of New Westminster’s Companion Diocese of Episcopal Diocese of Norther Philippines (EDNP) the total amount available from the fund will be finite, but it is expected that it will rotate as parishes currently owing money to the diocese repay these loans which will add to the cash available for other parishes to borrow in the future. Paying it forward.
Currently, the outstanding parish loan amounts add up to $3,252,260.00. With the addition of the existing Property Fund of $1,403,884 and the transfer from the Mission and Ministry Fund of $1,443,856 the new Parish Loan Fund will have a total of $6,100,000. Currently that will leave net cash available of $2,847,740 less $200,000 that has been committed to St. Thomas, Vancouver to finish their current renovation.
This fund will fund capital grants to parishes in the future. It is a limited fund that Diocesan Council will monitor and decide how and when to add new cash to this fund. To initiate the fund, monies will come from the Development Fund Income Fund, $679,317 and a transfer from the Mission and Ministry Fund of $783,517.00 for a total of $1,462,834.
Council members were then presented with a 7 part motion to approve this financial plan of segregation of funds. The first five parts of the motion involved the actual movement of the capital to the new financial entities. The sixth part was to establish that the amounts used in the Precis and the motion were as of December 31, 2018, with the re-configures funds initiated on January 1, 2019. The seventh part of the motion tasks the two standing committees of the diocese, MFP and MMD to work together to bring to the May 8, 2019 Diocesan Council meeting “a firm recommendation of criteria for the described funds”.
This plan was thoroughly discussed in a positive manner by members of Council with the result being that the motion was passed unanimously.
Results of the May 8 meeting and any additional information about diocesan funds will be communicated by diocesan communications as they become available.
(prepared with files from Rob Dickson, Director of Finance and Property and Bob Hardy, ODNW, Treasurer of the diocese of New Westminster)