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One of the gifts of serving on Council of General Synod is coming to understand the inner workings of the national church. I’m the kind of person who likes to understand how things work, and to work with others to find solutions when things don’t make sense. 

This summer it felt to me like General Synod was an unwieldy beast feeding on the noise of those speaking to be heard rather than the attention of those listening to understand. The emphasis of the second day of our Council of General Synod meetings has been quite the opposite of that experience. 

Throughout the day, a variety of folks have arisen to ask questions and to offer insights, this has largely been in service of clarity and understanding. This has been a day that we have leaned into deeper discernment of the issues we are facing as a church in a variety of ways. Throughout the day–in worship, in gospel-based discipleship, in exploring consensus approaches to decision making–I have been grateful for the spirit of listening. 

Remarks from the Primate
The morning began with Primate’s remarks, speaking about the experience and particulars of her ministry. As she told of her recent visit to the Diocese of Amazonia, she spoke of the Christians who, while strapped for resources, embodies good news for their neighbours. After school programs, leadership training for young people, work in housing and food security, protecting the Amazon through Indigenous leadership are only the tip of the iceberg. 

This story from Brasil caused me to reflect on the crisis as we’ve framed it here. We lament diminishing resources and declining numbers in the pews. What I heard in the Primate’s story of these communities at the mouth of the Amazon, was not focused primarily on Sunday worship attendance, but on the way their joy in the gospel has led them to minister amongst their neighbours. 

As we listen for God in our own contexts, we ought not be surprised that such a call is meant for us too. 

Budget 2024

Following a break, we turned our attention to the budget. While some might, I don’t love spreadsheets. And yet, as I mentioned yesterday, if a budget is the costing of a plan, it requires attention. 

I admit I have a bias when it comes to budgets. What kind of plan is it? Is it compelling? Is it worth giving to? Does it make sense? As we look at a budget for the National Church, how does this budget demonstrate the ways in which it is supporting Anglican Christians in these lands, in ways that cannot be done at any other level? 

I could talk a lot about the ministries of General Synod, especially the good things that they are doing to serve the church. I’ll probably save that for later, as we didn’t really get to talk about these until well after the budget was passed. In terms of the order in which we did our work, I do wish that we had heard from the various ministry areas earlier in our time to give context to the numbers we were seeing on the screen. 

One of the troubling pieces that I heard in the financial presentation was the comment that dioceses needed to keep up their giving otherwise there would be cuts to national staff. While I understand that this might be a reality, I think this message misses the larger point. Dioceses may be choosing to reduce their apportionment to the National Church in the context of budgetary shrinkage and numerical decline. One of the jobs of General Synod is to consider whether the way in which it currently funds itself–largely through the givings of individuals through local parish churches–is the only way forward. 

We all know that many churches across the country are facing declining giving and declining numbers. And yet our national (and diocesan) financial models are dependent on an assumption that the majority of funds for ministry do and should come from gifts of individuals. This falls down in any number of ways in our church at diocesan as well as national levels. 

The first, I suspect, is that over the past decades, not all of our congregations have not adequately wrestled with and talked about generosity as a mark of discipleship. We have been scared to talk about money, about whose it is (God’s!) and how we are called to use our resources (for the common good and human flourishing). 

We talk about God loving a cheerful giver, but rarely do we consider how a generous life of mutual interdependence is about more than showing up on Sunday, throwing a couple of dollars in the plate. The financial picture of many (though not all) parishes would change if people who had the capacity to do so, gave even 5% of their income, let alone a 10% tithe. The spiritual outlook might also change if we considered that we are called to give and receive care and hospitality to one another as we follow in the way of Jesus. 

The second is that when we ask people to increase their giving “to meet the budget,” we have missed the point. By a long shot. I know I’m not a part of a duty-bound generation, but surely there needs to be a clear plan and vision for our work together.  

A church budget is a costing of the plan by which we care for one another and for the world God loves. In our communities we care for one another by making provisions for gathering in prayer and worship, for pastoral care, through study and learning, and through life in community. Some of this includes provisions for staffing. Some for programming. Some for maintaining a place where we can gather.

Beyond our communities, we care for the world God loves through outreach, community-based ministries, acts of compassion, giving towards global development and relief efforts, and through our support of other congregations and ministries. Some of this we accomplish on our own as congregations, and some of this we accomplish in partnership with one another through our contributions to the diocesan budget. 

The third way the national church’s financial model falls down is that, as an organization, our national church body has not adequately diversified its income sources.

General Synod is largely reliant on money being passed from individual to parish to diocese to national church. While we might not expect the primate to start a monastery that sells exceptional honey and mead at a tidy markup for tourists, I do wonder how the work of the national church could be supported in a model that blends gifts from dioceses with other income streams to support national and international work given current reality. 

Here is a follow-up question: If (for whatever reason) the General Synod finds itself unable to diversify income streams and money remains a challenge, how might the General Synod use its convening power as a way of creating resources for dioceses and parishes--a playbook and training, perhaps--that equips them to take actions that will help to stabilize their own budgets? 

These are only a few beginning ideas of the kinds of things that might be helpful: 

  • In addition to support in theological resources for stewardship, what are tried and tested ways for communities of faith to approach the rental of their meeting space?
  • What are good ways to approach redevelopment? What do you need to look out for? What kinds of partners ought you to have? How should this connect to your overall sense of participation in God's mission?
  • Are there opportunities to generate solar energy and sell it back to the grid?

In other words, how can our national community of communities band together to find effective ways of supporting the ministry (and where possible, the financial solvency) of local congregations so they can continue to gather, to worship, to witness, to participate in God’s mission locally, and through our national church, globally? 


After lunch, we were led by members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples in Gospel Based Discipleship. This is a process by which we listen deeply to scripture, and ask the questions: 

  • What word or phrase am I hearing that stands out
  • What is Jesus (the Gospel) saying to me? 
  • What is Jesus (the Gospel) calling us to do? 

This is a practice that I love so much, and that helps us to listen deeply for what God might be saying to us, amongst these people, in this time. I have loved using it especially in small groups and small congregations as we listen for God  through scripture and through one another. 

Members of ACIP, Murray Still and Rosie Jane Tailfeathers shared about the incredible work being done by the council as they continue to walk the path of becoming a self-determining Indigenous church. They spoke about the gatherings of Sacred Circle and Sacred Beginnings, a gathering for young people to recover traditional spiritual teachings, to seek wholeness and community. It was good, too, to hear from National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Chris Harper as he spoke of his reconciliation tour across the land, about the generosity of the people he has met, and the opportunities to be welcomed into communities and offer teachings.

There are still barriers that have to be addressed. Some of this requires the adaptation of leadership structures (ensuring policy makes it clear that the National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop does not report to the Primate) as well as attending to the financial realities associated with setting up a fully functioning church. There is much to celebrate, and much more to be done. 

Addressing Resolutions from General Synod

As the afternoon went on, the Council was introduced to and started work addressing resolutions passed at General Synod. We worked together in table groups to identify next steps for each of these motions, and will take this work further in the days ahead. We concluded the day by learning about the ministries of the General Synod. But for now, it is late, and it is time to close down the computer. I will share more later.