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The diocesan Honouring Our Commitment campaign has reached the one million dollar mark and continues to grow, according to campaign co-chair Linda Robertson.

“It’s a remarkable achievement to have received over one million dollars, she said. “Our diocese should be very proud.

A settlement fund was set up after negotiations between the Anglican Church and the federal government that concluded in 2002. Nationally, Anglicans agreed to contribute $25 million, of which the Diocese of New Westminster’s share was $1.6 million.

Linda Robertson

Money from the settlement is being paid out to victims of physical and sexual abuse that occurred in residential schools run by the Anglican Church until 1969. Those First Nations people who receive the money must either have gone to court or have participated in an alternative dispute resolution process.

A renegotiation last year reduced the national Anglican obligation, and the dioceses share was also reduced. But in a letter to all parishes, Robertson last month urged Anglicans to continue to contribute until their parishes raise the amount of money they were asked to give when the campaign started in the fall of 2003.

“The campaign has always been about more than our financial obligation. It has always been about our spiritual obligation to Aboriginal people, she said.

Any money collected in excess of a revised diocesan goal of about $1.12 million will go towards healing programs for Aboriginal communities on both the national and diocesan levels, Robertson said..

Robertson congratulated twelve parishes which have raised 100 per cent or more of what they pledged. She noted that some of them were quite small, with limited financial resources. Many other parishes are more than two-thirds of the way there, she added.

The parishes meeting or exceeding their parish goals are St. Augustine, St. David, St. Faith, St. Mary, Southhill, St. Philip, and St. Thomas, all in Vancouver; St. John, Burnaby; St. Agnes and St. Richard of North Vancouver; St. Francis-in-the-Wood, West Vancouver; St. John, Whonnock; and the Church of the Epiphany, Surrey.

The original agreement between the federal government and national Anglican Church of Canada was for the Anglican Church to provide $25 million. The Diocese of New Westminster’s agreed-upon share was $1.6 million.

A renegotiation last year reduced the national obligation to slightly less than $16 million, and the diocesan share to $976,000. Campaign costs to raise the diocesan share amounted to about $142,000.

Because the payments into the settlement fund were stipulated according to a strict schedule in the agreement with the federal government, money was borrowed from the dioceses New Development Fund (NDF) to send to the national church. The borrowing from the NDF was authorized by Diocesan Synod in January, 2003.

As of September 30 of this year, proceeds from the campaign have repaid $1,015,000 back to the NDF. When an additional $103,000 is returned to the fund, the money borrowed from the NDF can be used to aid parishes with grants and loans.

When additional funds arrive, half will go to the Columbia Coast Mission Fund, used for work with First Nations people. The rest will go to the national Church’s Healing and Reconciliation Fund. Diocesan Council approved this distribution in September, 2003.

 Note: This story was revised because St. John, Burnaby, had been left out as one of the parishes which have contributed over 100 per cent of their goal to Honouring Our Commitment. This was a terrible omission, for St. John's leads the list, having as of October contributed $25,259, or 170 per cent of their original goal of $14,879. Our apologies!