The diocese of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador have announced plans to help parishes facing financial challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement released March 28, Archbishop Ron Cutler, bishop of the diocese of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, announced new measures by the diocese that aim to alleviate the “unanticipated financial needs” that parishes are facing.
The following resolutions were passed by the diocesan council at an electronic meeting March 27:
- To waive parish allotment payments for April and May 2020
- To pay the salaries of all stipendiary clergy in April and May (parishes that have $500,000 or more in the Diocesan Consolidated Trust or other investments will be required to repay the diocese)
- To make the management team and two members of diocesan council authorized to make decisions regarding requests from parishes whose needs are not addressed in the resolutions above
The council subsequently elected the Rev. Carl Fraser and Tanya Moxley to fill the requirements of the latter resolution. The authority granted by that resolution will end September 1, 2020, unless another date is determined by the diocesan council.
The diocese had previously announced the waiver of allotment payments for March 2020.
The diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador released a payment support plan for employees of the diocese. The plan states that the diocese will offer direct payment subsidy for payroll support for the next four months. Parishes in need of this support must make a written request to the diocesan executive officer.
The plan also states that parishes can make an Anglican Joint Investment (AJI) withdrawal in the case of “emergency financial circumstances,” as per a policy passed by the diocese’s executive committee March 23. A parish “may also apply to withdraw from its AJI account up to a maximum of the lessor of 50% of capital gains from non-restricted funds in its AJI account or three [months’] parish operating expenses.”
The “first charge on these AJI funds is to provide payroll support to clergy and lay staff before any other bills are paid,” according to the diocese.
The plan also advises accessing government subsidy programs such as the recently announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
While the diocese is prepared to offer support, the statement also encourages parishes “to immediately explore and implement alternate means of stewardship,” such as giving via drop boxes, electronically and through direct deposit. “It is vital that to maintain financial health, parishioners be encouraged to continue to give to support their parishes and Diocese and that easy opportunities to do so…be urgently made known and available to them.”
Anglican churches across the country are facing financial hardships as physical distancing measures continue to restrict gatherings.
“We recognize that this has not only affected monetary offerings from parishioners but also the ability for fundraising and the rental income which many parishes receive,” Cutler wrote in his statement. “Parishes which rely on investment income will also find this revenue affected. We are also aware that there are large numbers of people who have been laid off in our provinces.”
Bishops in both dioceses suspended in-person services March 16.
“Though our buildings are closed, the church is still open!” Cutler wrote. “We are still leading people in worship although in a scattered rather than a gathered way…. This time of crisis requires us to maintain and strengthen our ability to minister in the midst of heightened anxiety.”
The diocese of New Westminster announced a financial support plan on March 26.