New proposals for diocesan ministry and outreach – and how to pay for it – have received favourable responses in initial archdeaconry meeting around the diocese, according to Diocesan Treasurer Jim Stewart.

The treasurer told Diocesan Council last month – after half the meetings had been conducted-that the meetings in each area of the diocese seem to have gone “fairly well.”

“I think we are on the right track,” he said. “I think we are going to be able to come up with something that will satisfy the majority of the parishes.”

Stewart heads the diocesan Administration and Finance Committee, which is conducting the meetings to get feedback before putting into final form proposals for a new assessment system for approval at a financial Diocesan Synod on November 26.

For the past 15 years, much of the Diocese of New Westminster’s joint ministry has been funded through a program of voluntary giving called Stewards in Action (SIA). Highly successful in the early years, SIA has seen its donations drop recently, while its administrative overhead has been increasing (as a percentage of what SIA has been taking in).

Stewards in Action continues through the end of 2005. Be sure to keep up your monthly donations – many diocesan ministries are depending on them. A new system of parish apportionments will be considered at the November 26 special financial Diocesan Synod. Any new system will not take effect until 2006.

This led a Task Force on Diocesan Ministry and Outreach established by Diocesan Synod two years ago to recommend the windup of SIA. Diocesan Synod last May accepted the recommendation, and SIA will no longer exist after the end of this year. (But donations are still needed till the – see sidebar story on page 1.)

Instead, recommended the Task Force, money for most diocesan ministry should come from the regular assessments each parish sends in the diocese.

To fund ministry and outreach that money from SIA covered, the regular Synod apportionment would have to be raised from 12.1 per cent of parish operating income to 17.75 per cent.

However the Administration and Finance Committee has come up with several other options which reduce the burden on smaller parishes by increasing it somewhat for larger parishes.

Several people attending the archdeaconry meetings have said a single rate would be easier to understand, and treat all parishes equally. Others were concerned that the single rate would result in too large a hit for small parishes – even though Treasurer Stewart said that under the plan no parish would be faced with more than a 20 percent annual increase.

Asked for other “creative” ideas, people at the meetings have suggested a number of ideas: cut diocesan expenditure, raise a large endowment fund, and even raffle automobiles.

“I have been impressed with how people at the meetings generally haven’t just gone to the bottom line but have focused on how we can do ministry together as a diocese,” said the Rev. Paul Borthistle, Director of Parish Support Ministries.


A Capilano Archdeaconry meeting to talk about how to resource the new plan for Diocesan Ministry and Outreach met at St. Martin’s,
He said the largest challenge for parishes will be to convince people who have been giving to Stewards in Action over the years that they should not give that money to their parish so the parish can pay a higher assessment.


“The ministry is the same,” said Borthistle. “The vehicle for giving will be different.”

Monty Worthington of St. George, Fort Langley, a council member, said he believed that “no parish will be overstressed.”

“We have been here before,” he said, referring to a change in the parish assessment system implemented in 1996. “It was a successful change the last time and it will be this time,” he said, confidently.