General Synod passed a motion July 16 to affirm the creation of the Jubilee Commission, a commission tasked with finding a “just, sustainable and equitable funding base for the self-determining Indigenous Anglican church.”
The commission will be “charged with examining historic and current funds made available for Indigenous ministry at various levels of the church’s structure, assessing current funds designated to Indigenous programming, and assessing broader property questions,” according to the resolution.
Some topics the commission has been asked to consider are “current salary levels of Indigenous clergy, and strategies to try to move towards parity, recognizing that many are non-stipendiary; possible distributions of portions of property sales on a principled basis; and increased alignment between funds for Indigenous ministries and Indigenous oversight of these funds,” Diocese of Toronto Trent-Durham Area Bishop Riscylla Shaw—a member of the commission as well as the chair of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice—told General Synod in a presentation preceding the vote.
The resolution presented to General Synod was to affirm the commission’s creation by Council of General Synod (CoGS). CoGS moved to create and appoint members of the commission in June 2018 and November 2018, respectively.
The General Synod resolution was on the no-debate list and passed with 99% of members voting “Yes” (203 votes), 1% voting “No” (two votes) and five abstentions.
In their presentation to CoGS, Shaw, along with Judith Moses, newly elected deputy prolocutor of General Synod, and Suffragan Bishop of the Northern Manitoba Area Mission Larry Beardy, outlined the principles underlying the commission’s work and an initial work plan.
“We are an Indigenous and non-Indigenous partnership within the Anglican church, and we’re working on a shared mission to sustain the Indigenous ministry. After the events here in the last few days, we are even more cognizant of the importance of our mission and to move our work forward as rapidly as we can,” said Moses.
Other guiding principles for working together included recognizing that the commission is “a prayer-focused circle,” recognizing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) a foundation of its work, and consulting broadly and communicating regularly across the church.
“We intend to let Indigenous ways and new ways merge,” said Moses, noting that the commission will resist colonial approaches to their work.
Moses also outlined the commission’s next steps, including: refining its draft work plan, including its consultation strategy; expanding the use of the Jubilee Commission website; identifying research assistants from dioceses; finding “champions” to help move the work forward; and making a framework for divesting church properties a “top priority.”
Shaw told General Synod that the commission would like to identify “systemic solutions” to fund already-developed ministries such as the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. It also hopes to “identify nimble models [of funding] that can adjust to the inevitable changes to this body and the life of the Anglican church, and bring credible business cases for moving forward,” she said.
The commission will have a three-year, potentially renewable term and will report to CoGS.
Alongside Shaw, Moses and Beardy, there are three other members of the commission: Canon Laverne Jacobs, the Rev. Pamela Rayment and Archdeacon Jim Boyles.
Audited financial statements presented at the meeting of General Synod show expenses by Indigenous ministries were $1,073,741 in 2018, compared to $691,251 the previous year—an increase primarily due to the cost of holding Sacred Circle in August 2018.