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Council gives green light to 'gold' fundraiser

Posted on: June 18, 2002 9:48 AM
Related Categories: Canada

A new fundraising proposal, aimed at injecting fresh life into the Anglican Church's work and nailing down an amount that residential schools negotiators can offer to the federal government, was presented to Council of General Synod (CoGS) at its spring meeting. CoGS approved the proposal, dubbed the Marigold Report, with one amendment.

Developed by a sub-committee of the Financial Management and Development Committee, Marigold heralds potentially radical changes in approach and worship.

It aims at ensuring there is a strong central church body to keep the church going in areas such as social justice, overseas partnerships, the Council of the North, new partnerships with indigenous Anglicans, congregational development and support to dioceses and parishes.

The report was so named because it was printed on gold paper and "because we like the reference to gold," said Betty Livingston, a committee member who introduced it.

CoGS members were surprised to receive the report because an earlier fundraising initiative was shelved a year ago after wide-ranging consultations in Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto. Bishops, clergy and lay people from across the country attended the sessions, discussing ideas for rebuilding the finances of General Synod and of some dioceses shaken by residential schools litigation. At that time, Canon Philip Poole of Trinity Church, Aurora, Ontario, told the Journal that the reason for stopping was uncertainty about the national church's financial situation. But as government and church officials seem to move closer to a final agreement over residential schools, the brakes have clearly come off, and the Marigold sub-committee sought permission to move ahead.

"Our goal is to establish an adequate foundation of financial and non-financial resources for both diocesan and national church ministry and mission," said Mr Poole. "The sub-committee is eager, enthusiastic and full of energy. They are ready to go, they're in a race so fire the gun and we can move on. We have the right skill sets."

Outlining details of the proposal, Geoff Jackson, one of its authors and the executive officer of the diocese of Ontario, said the church needs a fundraising process "and not a capital campaign. It's no secret that our assets have eroded and continue to be eroded.

"Dioceses are suffering from litigation costs, but not just those costs," said Mr Jackson. "They need renewal and refreshment to go forward."

Mr Jackson said that the Marigold group believes there should continue to be a "strong central body" of the Canadian church, and "it should be General Synod." If negotiations with the federal government fail, "we still believe that we should have some form of a strong central structure." Jim Cullen, national church treasurer, who answered questions about the proposal, said, "We will need a lot of money no matter what happens. In terms of timelines and the erosion of our assets, we need a settlement."

Mr Poole asked council members to adopt the proposal even though they were seeing it for the first time. "We need to obtain a high degree of buy-in for this to be successful at all three levels of the church," he said.

Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of the province of British Columbia and the Yukon, who also sits as a new member on the church's federal negotiating team, linked council's approval to a successful outcome with the federal government.

"The negotiating team needs some kind of indication of what figure we can table with the government," he said.

A key part of the proposal is a national communications plan to help dioceses and parishes accept the ideas. The proposal calls for the development of an organisation plan and timeline starting in November 2002 and ending by May 2003.

Outside the discussions, Revd Alan Perry of Montreal said he was concerned about the timelines. "In our diocese we have summer coming and then we are into synod season. It isn't going to be easy," he said. Mr Perry and other council members also raised the issue of donor fatigue. "We have to be careful how we go at people," he said.

Bishop Ann Tottenham of Toronto suggested the proposal was "wildly unrealistic without a residential schools settlement."

Dean Peter Elliott of New Westminster said his concern was the proposal's breadth. "It covers a waterfront that covers General Synod work. I have a desire to narrow that and to see how much is achievable," he said.

Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of General Synod, said the sub-committee is "convinced we will have one crack at this. We can't do it in bits and pieces. One year on restoration and one year on reconciliation won't work."

One of the funding objectives is a stewardship program to "engage every Anglican...to provide additional funds for funding a new diocesan-based and national strategic direction." The plan would include every constituency in the church - parish, diocese and national ministry levels.

"People give to vision and people will give to other people who are taking action to carry out that vision," said Archdeacon Boyles.

In the end, the council authorised the Financial Management and Development Committee to proceed with the proposal with one amendment: that the committee would consult with the national church's planning and agenda team and with the Faith Worship and Ministry committee to review and refine a large section of the proposal, "mindful of the intentional listening process."

Jim Sweeny, who is an officer of General Synod, was the only dissenting vote on the Marigold motion. "I don't think that the church as a whole is ready to launch into a fundraising campaign without some agreement that the assets are protected," he said.

Article from: Anglican Journal by Jane Davidson