The Diocesan Strategic Plan is available in pdf format by clicking here.

After more than two years of work, the Diocesan Strategic Plan 2018 has been put in final form and “enthusiastically” commended to Diocesan Synod on May 22 and 23.
Assistant treasurer Ian Robertson comments on the Strategic Plan. Seated is Treasurer Jim Stewart

The plan promises to result in significant changes to the structure and makeup of the diocese, although, unlike similar reports in some other dioceses, it does not contain a list as to which parishes should be closed and which remain open.

Instead it states that parishes much be “vital and sustainable,” or in a strategic location with the promise of becoming vital and sustainable over time.

Vitality is defined as making a “discernable difference in the lives of individual parishioners and in lives in [its] community, being mission-focused, equipped for change and renewal, and outward looking “in line with diocesan priorities.”

Sustainable parishes can maintain strong lay leadership, pay for a full-time priest (in most instances), have the vision and resources to meet the needs of its community, depend primarily on free will offerings, and not deplete their capital.

While the plan does not define what is sustainable in terms of finances, it does say that “the bottom line costs of operating a stand alone $130,000” and that currently 30 of the diocese’s 78 parishes are unable to raise that much money annually.

The plan endorses the Ministry Assessment Process, (the “MAP”) which 22 parishes have begun during the past two years either individually or regionally. 

But it adds a “Parish Review,” with an external facilitator that every parish in the diocese will go through. The review will “fact-based, objective, comprehensive, and participatory,” examining each parish’s mission, finances, and physical resources.

If a parish is found to be vital but not sustainable, it will go through the MAP process to find ways to achieve sustainability. If it is found to be sustainable but not vital, it will also go through MAP to find a better way to use its resources.

Jane Osler, co-chair, presents plan.
If a parish is found to be neither vital nor sustainable, the plan does not say it will be closed exactly, but implies that: “The expectation is that the bishop, on the advice of Diocesan Council and its Standing Committees, will begin a process to determine whether closure is the right option.”

Other sections of the plan recommend an organization review of the diocese, new boundaries for archdeaconries and deaneries, a revamped standing committee structure, changes in synod office staffing, lay and clergy leadership training, and a financial review to fund all this.

The plan proposes a new mission statement for the diocese: “Growing Communities of Faith in Jesus Christ to Serve God’s Mission in the World.”

Throughout the process the group compiling the Strategic Plan, the Strategic Planning Working Group, has insisted that it has no “hit list” of parishes that will closed, although at the Diocesan Council meeting Archdeacon Lou Rivers said that some people in some small parishes believe there is.

 “That’s a little bit of paranoia that will move on, as the process moves on—but I don’t think we should deny it exists.”

Rivers, who chaired a similar report a decade ago which was not implemented, said that he felt the plan was “splendid and terrific.”

“What this report is saying [to parishes] is that you now have to have ownership of process, and you have to be able to make the changes that enable the priorities that we see allow people to have vision because that will allow change.”

The reason we have to be so determined [about the plan] is because it is change that we are talking about. The diocese is not going to look the same after this process has taken place, and it won’t be able to go back to where it was.”

The Strategic Planning group’s proposed motion to send the document to Diocesan Synod read that the Diocesan Council “enthusiastically commends” the plan. The Rev. Paul Guiton, chair of the Ministry Resources Committee, asked whether the word “enthusiastically” was required and might upset some people concerned about the “grass roots nature” of the strategic planning process.

Archdeacon John Stevens argued that the word should stay in. “I think it important that we’re strongly behind this plan instead of just vaguely,” he said, and the plan was accepted and recommended to Diocesan Synod unanimously.

The group that worked on the plan was co-chaired by Dean Peter Elliott and Jane Osler, both of Christ Church Cathedral. Other members were Dixie Black (Christ Church Cathedral), The Rev. Kevin Dixon (St. Mary’s Kerrisdale), Vera Morgan (Church of the Holy Spirit), Marcia Sauder (St. Mary’s Kerrisdale), Archdeacon John Struthers (St. David’s Delta), Margaret Briscall (St. Mary’s Kerrisdale), Mike Burpee (St. Clare-in-the-Cove), the Rev. Jeremy Clark-King (St. Martin’s), Chancellor George Cadman, Archdeacon Ronald Harrison, Archdeacon Lou Rivers, Diocesan Treasurer Jim Stewart, and Bishop Michael Ingham.

Diocesan Staff either on the committee or giving support were the Director for Parish Support Ministries the Rev. Paul Borthistle, Business Administrator Rob Dickson, the Rev. Eileen Nurse, Archdeacon Ronald Harrison.