|The Ven Christine Rowe
Having come to the Diocese relatively recently, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to see first hand some of the excellent work being undertaken locally with the support of the diocese’s Stewards in Action program.
Like many of you, the people of St Thomas have always been strong supporters of SIA, with projects like the Mission to Seafarers, and the Coming Home Society remaining close to our hearts. Over the years, we have supported such outreach projects with prayer, financial and practical involvement. It’s important and exciting to keep updated on what is happening in these key ministries of the diocese.
However we are also aware the giving of Anglicans to SIA has been in decline for a number of years. It is a fact that the number of outreach projects seeking support has continue to rise, whilst income has gone down.
As a diocese we examined these issues during 2004 through the Task Force on Diocesan Ministry and Outreach. Its findings were clear: after 15 years it was time for SIA to end. At the same time a new system for funding outreach needed to be developed.
No longer would some diocesan administration costs or our diocesan apportionment to the national church come from such a fund. In the future, when parishes give for outreach ministry, dollar for dollar that money will go to fund outreach.
As a consequence parish apportionment to fund our “core budget” would necessarily rise, but as our Primate reminded us at Synod, to date we have one of the lowest amongst all dioceses in Canada.
As it was important to seek grass root input in the way forward, it is even more vital that we take soundings and advice for where we go from here.
The archdeaconry meetings in September will offer a first class opportunity for every parish to have their say on the financial implications of moving items from the former SIA budget to the general budget of the Diocese. This will mean a change, but this is a change which Diocesan Synod overwhelmingly opted for.
Any rise in parish apportionments has to be achieved in a fair, equitable way, and the meetings will enable us to decide how we proceed at the November 26 financial synod, when the final decision will be made. We have decided to put major outreach projects into the one combined budget - how will we pay for them?
The clear result of last year’s meetings was the good measure of agreement that was reached. People attending the archdeaconry gatherings can voice their ideas, and this will enable the excellent outreach work of the Diocese to continue.
Come in September and make your voice heard. Pray between now and the meetings for the future stewardship of outreach in our Diocese as with faith we move forward committed to Spirit-filled mission and ministry.
The Ven. Christine Rowe is Archdeacon of Burrard and rector of St. Thomas, Vancouver