Caption: Members of North Shore parishes consider their responses to the Diocesan Task Force on Physical Resources at an archdeaconry meeting at St. Clement’s, North Vancouver.

The Diocesan Task Force on Physical Resources has found that most Anglicans want concerns that some may have about change, to be balanced with the need to act quickly, boldly and decisively to ensure a future for the Anglican Church in the Diocese of New Westminster.

The 13 member task force in October and November held six archdeaconry meetings which were attended by about 300 people representing nearly all the parishes in the diocese

"We are grateful for the input we have received," said Mike Burpee, task force chair, in a report to Diocesan Council summarizing the responses of people to the task force’s presentations.

"The responses are invaluable as we take the next steps to refine our thinking and start to develop our recommendations."

The task force was created by Diocesan Council last year in response to a motion at Synod. It was given the mandate to hold a "diocesan conversation," and asked to recommend processes and procedures for the allocation and re-allocation of new and existing physical resources and property, for the current and future mission of the Church.

Michael Burpee, chair, at right, introduces members of his task force to the archdeaconry meeting at St. David’s, Vancouver.

Burpee reported that people saw two areas of mission: proclamation, and meeting needs. When speaking of the Church, "some focused on the building, some on place, some on people, some on shared faith of values."

"It remains to be seen how a sense that the church has to be reshaped by and for mission will affect this understanding. The feeling at the moment seems to be of ‘Church’ being a refuge from the world rather than being formed around mission in the world," Burpee commented.

During the archdeaconry meetings, the task force presented people with a list of "characteristics of a healthy parish," including having specific objectives, a visitation program, dynamic worship, solid financial resources, etc.

In general, people agreed with the list, but wanted to add (among other things) that healthy parishes help people in their spiritual formation and growth. A healthy parish is also flexible and diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, and in others ways. It works in collaboration and partnership with other parishes, faiths, and community groups. It considers its region, not just its congregation.

There was concern, especially among smaller parishes, that small parishes might not be able to "measure up" to some of the characteristics of a healthy parish due to scarcity of skills and resources.

"Small can be beautiful" was an often expressed opinion.

Hearing about demographic trends at the task force’s archdeaconry meeting at St. Philip’s, Vancouver.

Burpee said that many parishes appreciated being given demographic data about their communities compiled by Parish Ministry Facilitator Paige Dampier, who will be providing more material based on census data and parish surveys.

The task force will complete its vision of "What’s Church" and reshape the list of characteristics of healthy ministry, taking into account feedback

At a second set of archdeaconry meetings in February, the task force will present its draft proposals of procedures for the allocation and re-allocation of diocesan property. After again receiving feedback, the task force’s final recommendations will go to Diocesan Council in April and on to Diocesan Synod in May.

Dates for the consultations in February are these (times and locations to be announced):

  • Monday, February 5th Fraser Archdeaconry
  • Thursday, February 8th Capilano Archdeaconry
  • Saturday, February 10th Sunshine Coast
  • Monday, February 12th Westminster Archdeaconry
  • Thursday, February 15th Vancouver Archdeaconry
  • Monday, February 19th Burrard Archdeaconry

Mike Burpee’s executive summary of the Task Force’s report to Diocesan Council can be found here.