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They are the front line, the faces of parishes, in Archbishop Skelton’s view they are “the glue” that holds the parish and in fact the larger church together, they are parish administrators.

The first ever Parish Administrators Conference was held the morning of Tuesday, September 18 in the Trendell Lounge, the meeting area shared by the Synod Offices at 1410 Nanton and the Parish of St. John’s, Shaughnessy at 1490 Nanton. Twenty-five parish administrators representing most regions of the Diocese of New Westminster gathered to :

  • Build community (companionship and support)
  • Provide an opportunity to share knowledge and best practices
  • Meet the Synod Staff
  • Enjoy a meal together
  • And last but not least, present an opportunity for Archbishop Skelton and the Synod Office staff team to express their appreciation for the outstanding contributions to the mission and ministry of the Church made by parish administrators.

The idea for the conference was originally communicated to the Reverend Tellison Glover, Director of Mission and Ministry Development by Sheila Johnston, parish administrator at St. Mark’s, Ocean Park following a discussion that she'd had with Beth Fortin, receptionist at St. Cuthbert, Delta who initially came up with the idea. Sheila is also an active parishioner at Holy Trinity, White Rock, and she possesses a special perspective on how parish administrators can connect with the Synod Office because she worked as an interim assistant in the Bishop’s Office for several months a few years ago.  Rev. Glover brought the idea back to the Synod Office, a plan was developed and administration staff members, Phil Colvin and Rachel Taylor under the supervision of Director for Finance and Property, Rob Dickson and with the expert facilitation of Missioner for Congregational Development, Tasha Carrothers began to build an agenda. Diocesan Comptroller, Shailene Caparas and Administrator: Payroll and Benefits; Accounts Receivable and Payable, Michele Van Teunenbrok were also very much involved as their roles regularly intersect with clergy, parish officers and parish administrators.

The parish administrators gathered at 9am when they were welcomed by the organizing team; the purpose of the day was reviewed and questions for discussion were listed. Archbishop Skelton offered words of welcome and expressed her profound appreciation for their ministry.

The program consisted of a Community Building “icebreaker” for 15 minutes where the parish administrators gathered in groups as directed and then followed this guide:

  • In a line, order yourselves by how long you have been a parish administrator. “What do you do in your job?”
  • Small groups by archdeaconry (combine as necessary). “In your archdeaconry group, what do you most appreciate about what you do?”
  • In three groups (parish size 50 or fewer, 51 to 100, 101 or more): “What’s most challenging about what you do?”
  • Whether clergy are team/full-time/part-time. “What (if anything) do you wish for in your job?”

The parish administrators then gathered together in the south side of the room as each member of Synod Staff present gave a brief outline of their positions and if applicable highlighted where parish administrators might interact with them.

This was followed by more plenary sessions looking at:

  • What materials should be sent to the Archives
  • The Personal Information Protective Act (PIPA)      
  • Some news about parish reporting software that is currently in development
  • Payroll

Following a brief coffee break the plenary moved to small groups in the north half of the room and embarked on the major work that would be done that morning, Learning Community Sessions.

The sessions followed the World Café Format where participants in each group number themselves off as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Inviting people with mobility issues to choose 0 as then they won’t have to move from group to group.

The discussions were as follows:

  • Pew Bulletins  -  Trade bulletins with others in your group and check them out.What are the challenges you encounter? Either technical or inter-personal. Share experience and solutions          
  • Power Church (the commonly used Church record keeping and reporting software)  - How do you use Power Church? What are the challenges you encounter? Share experience and solutions
  • Rentals - What is your role in managing rentals at your church? What challenges do you encounter? Feel free to trade rental agreements if that seems helpful. Share experience and solutions.       
  • Safety, self-care, difficult people  -  What is your experience of working alone in a church building? Encountering difficult people? Share experience and solutions

The last session consisted of two options. Parish administrators were given the option of joining a conversation on office procedures or joining a conversation about money. Tasha referred to that option as “money huddle.”  The specific questions discussed by the two groups were:

  1. What is your experience of “office procedures” at your church? Do you have a manual? Are roles clear? Share experience and solutions.
  2. What is your role in managing finances at your church? What are the challenges? Solutions?

Following the Learning Community Sessions the group came back to plenary for evaluation and feedback.  Twenty-one  of the twenty-five  present responded, with fourteen responding with a  5 on a scale of six and seven responding with the top rating of 6. Very positive feedback! In the feedback there were some improvements suggested for the next edition of the Parish Administrators Conference. More time, more space between groups to enhance discussion and the attendance of a Power Church expert would be most appreciated.

Prior to lunch being served, the parish administrators gathered in groups or spoke with Synod Staff asking questions and exchanging ideas. Archbishop Skelton brought out the Metropolitical Cross that she had received at her Installation as Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and Yukon that had taken place just four days earlier at Sorrento Centre.

Unofficially Official Caterer for the Diocese of New Westminster, Bette Geddes and Associates served a delicious lunch that was enjoyed by parish administrators and staff. When asked about how the Conference had unfolded, key organizer, Rachel Taylor, Administrative Assistant with responsibility for the diocesan wide pre-authorized donation program replied, “It was a huge success, but there is more to share. We will be doing this again next year, for sure.”


  • Icebreaker discussions
  • Staff members Shai and Michele take a look at some documents brought by the parish administrators to share
  • Listening to staff plenary presentations
  • Learning Group Sessions
  • Tasha Carrothers
  • Yvonne from St. Clement’s, Sara from St. Martin’s and Vincent (hidden) from Christ Church Cathedral get a close up look at the Metropolitical Cross the symbol of the Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and Yukon