National church facing ‘turbulent times’ financially as contributions from dioceses fall, treasurer says


Brenda Still

Cynthia Haines-Turner, prolocutor of General Synod, introduces voting on the 2019 budget at the Council of General Synod (CoGS) Saturday, Nov. 24. Photo: Saskia Rowley
“There’s always a conversation about what work needs to be done, what’s the best way for that work to be done, that’s without restructuring,” General Synod treasurer Hanna Goschy told Council of General Synod (CoGS) Friday, November 23. “That will have to continue.” Photo: Saskia Rowley

Mississauga, Ont.

Tough decisions are likely going to have to be made by leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada in the years ahead as it faces a possible downward turn in contributions from the dioceses, the church’s treasurer says.

“I think we’re entering a turning point, and some more turbulent times in proportional giving,” General Synod treasurer Hanna Goschy told Council of General Synod (CoGS) in a presentation on the budget Friday, November 23.

Over the course of 2018, she said, several dioceses let the national church know that they would not be able to contribute as much money as initially planned. As a result, the church is expecting that proportional gifts from the dioceses—the source of more than 90% of its core revenue—will be down in 2018 by about $303,000 from what had been projected, bringing total revenue for the year to a currently forecast $10,629,000.

A deficit of only about $14,000 is forecast for the year—mostly because the national church found ways to save on expenses in a number of ministry areas, Goschy said.

The church is anticipating that contributions from dioceses will continue to decline in coming years, she said, meaning six-figure deficits are anticipated for the years 2022 and 2023.

A budget document released to CoGS shows projected deficits of $205,024 and $244,382 for 2022 and 2023 respectively.

A sharp downward turn in diocesan contributions would mark something of a departure from the pattern of diocesan contributions since 2008, which has been “relatively stable”—though contributions have shrunk by $416,000 since 2016, she said.

Apart from the possibility of shrinking revenue from the dioceses, the national church is also facing uncertainty around the cost of the planned self-determining Indigenous church, Goschy said. It seems likely the Anglican Church of Canada will have to make significant changes in the way it does things to prepare financially for 2022 and 2023.

“Before we get to those years we’re going to have to do a lot of work to balance the budget at that time,” she said. “If it’s just [a shortfall of] $100,000, we can do some manipulations, and it’s easier to manage, but when we’re talking several hundred thousand dollars some other things are going to have to happen.”

For 2019, a small surplus—just under $3,000—is projected. The church was able to balance its budget for 2019 essentially by not filling some positions left vacant by retiring or resigning employees, she said.

“There’s always a conversation about what work needs to be done, what’s the best way for that work to be done, that’s without restructuring,” she said. “That will have to continue.”

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Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

4 Responses

  1. Maybe one day we’ll wake up to the fact that we have given up on stewardship and instead simply try to raise fund to meet a budget using methods ,that have been failing for decades.
    +Douglas Hambidge

    1. +Douglas I couldn’t agree more. Would you believe that most churches leave giving to chance? Every church in every diocese should be teaching stewardship education. It shouldn’t be an add-on or after-thought. I have found that churches can grow. I have found that churches can engage in new ministry. And 9 times out of 10 the churches that are growing are also faithfully doing stewardship. It’s not rocket science.

  2. I suggest that when budgets are determined by committees without earnestly seeking membership input, all the talk about stewardship will not work. Many people I know of donate generously towards the Primate’s Fund or other charities but not to the local or regional budgets because they are simply left out of the process of decision-making and so they continue to give, give, give, but not to budgets.

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