September 23 marked the first meeting of the new diocesan council. With 17 members, this represents a significantly smaller council than previously (up to 14 fewer members) and the group will meet five times each year instead of the previous 10 times. This change is a result of a Synod 2021 resolution to streamline the governance of the synod to free up leaders’ time to develop and nurture ministry at the local, regional and diocesan levels. Feedback at the end of the meting was overwhelmingly positive, and the council appears to be ready to meet the challenges and opportunities we face as a diocese in these uncertain times. The size and frequency of council meetings will be evaluated on an ongoing basis, with a commitment to report back to the Synod in 2023.
“I think it’s important to remember that we are the diocesan council, working on behalf of the diocese 365 days a year, not just the five times we meet.”
– Robert Gill, diocesan chancellor
A significant portion of the five-hour Zoom meeting (originally planned for in-person but changed due to COVID-19) was set aside to orient the new council to their role, the role of the synod office leadership team and to introduce them to one another.
Bishop Anna also shared with the council her current six vision priorities. They include:
- Faith in Foundation — Current ministries: post-pandemic re-opening
- Faith in Action — Reconciliation and Beyond: racism and decolonization
- Faith in Action — Engaging God’s World: climate catastrophe
- Faith in Foundation — Current Ministries: human resource management
- Faith in Foundation — Current Ministries: governance
- Faith in Action/Faith in Foundation<: stewardship
More information on these six priority areas can be found on the diocesan website.
Highlights of decisions made
Diocesan council passed three notable resolutions, with widespread implications for the diocese. In the face of shrinking budgets and an acknowledgement that a post-pandemic church will necessarily be less financially resourced than in the past, the diocesan council approved the establishment of a budget committee and a human resources (HR) working group. A motion to redirect the energy of Transforming Futures towards congregational (re)development for the next two years (not on fundraising), was tabled until the next meeting, when more information about the 2022 budget will be available.
Recognizing the cumulative effect of the pandemic on ministry staff throughout the diocese, the bishop asked diocesan council to approve a decision to grant all paid clergy and other synod staff a one-time paid week of leave to be taken between October 2021 and October 2022. This week cannot be banked or carried over into 2023. The diocesan council is encouraging parishes to extend the same offer to their lay staff.
This regular column reports on the activities and decision of the diocesan council, the “synod between synods” of our diocese. Meeting minutes are available for download at www.bc.anglican.ca/diocesan-committees/diocesan-council