Refining their report to Diocesan Synod in the kitchen at St. Augustine's are Bonnie Paetkau, Alisdair Smith, Kathy Derksen, the Rev. John Stephens, the Rev. Paul Borthistle (staff support) and the Rev. Mavis Brownlee.

Anglicans in the Diocese of New Westminster want to continue a strong diocesan program of outreach and ministry, but they have to find new ways to find the resources for it, a Diocesan Task Force on Ministry and Outreach has found.

It presented 19 recommendations to Diocesan Council last month, which voted unanimously to pass them on to the Diocesan Synod May 13 and 14.

A co-chair of the task force, the Rev. John Stephens of St. Philip's, described the task force's recommendations as "quite sweeping."

"Diocesan ministry and outreach in New Westminster isn't broken, but if we don't do something it soon will be," Stephens told the council. He co-chaired the task force with Kathy Derksen of St. Andrew's, Langley.

The Task Force made its recommendations after holding meetings in each Archdeaconry plus an extra meeting on the Sunshine Coast, and talking with diocesan standing committees, and with diocesan staff.

Stephens said that while a great deal of outreach is carried out at the parish level, people still want the diocese to fund outreach programs, and there is very strong support for regular annual grants from the basic budget for Camp Artaban and Mission to Seafarers.

Chief among the recommendations is that the synod wind up the Stewards in Action program, the annual campaign that collects voluntary contributions for diocesan ministry from individuals and parishes.

The Stewards in Action (SIA) program began in the mid 1980s. Over the past 15 years it has raised over $10.5 million. But the task force concluded that SIA had "run its course."

"Despite several attempts at rejuvenation, donor fatigue has set in. Giving peaked in the early 1990s and income has decreased annually since," the report stated.

A new voluntary outreach campaign, yet to be named, would replace SIA to fund diocesan initiatives such as the Coming Home Society's recovery house for Aboriginal Women and the South Fraser Community Services Society.

However, unlike SIA, donations to this new outreach program would be on a designated donation basis, so that each dollar given would mean a dollar passed on. The task force recommended that the diocesan budget pay administrative costs.

SIA's current administrative costs, which include the salary of a program co-coordinator, office space, annual fundraising expenses would go into the diocese's basic budget, as well as a portion of the national church's assessment for the Church of the North which now comes out of SIA funds, and the funding for Camp Artaban and Missions to Seafarers.

At Diocesan Council, Beth Johnson of All Saints, Ladner, chair of the SIA Ministry Committee, which considers applications for SIA grants, said her committee endorsed the report's recommendations. "We voted for our own demise."

A former chair of the same committee, Monte Worthington of St. George's, Fort Langley, agreed. "It needs to happen."

Transferring expenditures into the diocesan budget will require that a new formula be developed for parish assessment and the funding of shared ministries. But the report presented no specific proposals or figures.

Instead it recommended that if the task force's recommendations are approved in principle by Diocesan Synod, the Diocesan Administration and Finance Committee should hold more Archdeaconry meetings in the fall before developing a new formula. A special financial synod would then be held November 26.

The report did say that the diocese should eliminate deficit funding, and any formula must recognize "the financial stress for the most vulnerable parishes."

Annual donations to Stewards in Action. (Note: Results of two year campaigns conducted in the early 1990s are given in annual figures. The 2005 figure is pledges received; all other figures are actual receipts.)