After nine years as a separate entity, the Anglican Journal may soon operate again under the aegis of General Synod.
At a recent Toronto meeting of the Journal‘s board of directors, a motion to have the newspaper de-incorporated by the Council of General Synod (CoGS) was put forward by Journal board member, the Rev. Canon Robert Towler.
The initial driving impetus is efficiency of administrative costs and human resources. Preliminary estimates of dollar savings range from $8,000 for separate insurance to $30,000 each for accounting staff and business management.
The newspaper was separately incorporated in 2002 as a protective measure. The goal was to ensure that the newspaper and the diocesan newspapers it carries would survive in the event that General Synod went bankrupt as a result of litigation around the church’s role in the administration of the Indian residential schools. “While General Synod’s financial health continues to be a challenge, there is no longer the threat of imminent bankruptcy,” said Sam Carriere, director of General Synod’s Communication and Information Resources.
One potential problem with Synod’s re-acquisition of the paper was the possibility of losing the crucial subvention from the Aid-to-Publishers component of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Periodical Fund. This body funds only editorially independent publications that report on a broad range of issues, not “house organs” that cover internal activities. The church has now received assurance from Canadian Heritage that a periodical’s form of governance is not an issue in qualifying for subsidies.
“The primary concern is the editorial independence of the paper and whether or not a less-than-arm’s-length relationship with General Synod would have any impact on that,” said Kristin Jenkins, the Journal‘s editor. “We’ve been assured by Synod and the Journal board that it won’t.”
Another pivotal issue for Jenkins is the prospect of looming cuts to funding. “We have only a short period to go with the budgetary status quo before we’ll see more cuts,” she said. “My interest is in building capacity for the Journal independently of Synod. So one of our key initiatives is a five-year business plan to help accomplish that.”
For Bishop George Elliott, chair of newspaper’s board, the move to re-acquisition raised a concern. “As a board member with a fiduciary responsibility to the Journal, I have some trepidation about the process of dissolving the corporation and how it will play out.”
As a member of the Communications and Information Resources Committee, which will provide oversight for the publication, Bishop Elliott will continue to play a role. Like Jenkins, he hopes that some of the administrative savings will trickle back to the Journal and that the new business plan will make it less reliant on grants from General Synod, while allowing it to expand. “It’s pretty bare-boned at the moment,” he said.
The motion for de-incorporation will go before CoGS at its spring meeting.
(This article has been revised from a previous version to reflect some corrections.)