This regular column reports on the activities and decisions of Diocesan Council, the “synod between synods” of our diocese. Download monthly meeting minutes at www.bc.anglican.ca/diocesan-committees/diocesan-council.
The February meeting of the diocesan council focused on two significant items of business: streamlining bureaucracy and long-term sustainability for the diocesan Refugee Sponsorship Program.
Council approved motions directing the canons committee to prepare draft canonical wording changes to Canons 3 and 4. The changes are to stipulate that the frequency of Diocesan Council and finance committee meetings going forward will be five times a year with additional meetings being called as necessary, and that the number of voting members of Diocesan Council be 20. The draft revised canons will be voted on by Diocesan Council at its April meeting and then put to a final vote at Synod on May 29.
Long-term sustainability of refugee sponsorship
As reported last month, with the year-over-year growth in demand (over 800 refugees welcomed in recent years) and the corresponding increase in diocesan financial support for the Refugee Sponsorship Program, it is necessary and appropriate for diocesan council to develop a long-term sustainability plan for the program. To that end, the bishop has appointed a task force to make recommendations to the diocesan council by summer 2021 about the feasibility of moving the program out from under the diocesan umbrella and into the community in much the same way as Threshold Housing and Loaves and Fishes before it. In considering this decision, the council acknowledged that the diocese can be proud of the program and the reputation it has across the country as a best-practice model. However, with climate change and ongoing economic and political strife worldwide, the need will continue to grow at a pace unsustainable under the current model. This plan, once developed and approved by council, is expected to leverage support and expertise currently unavailable to the program. As part of these efforts, the council also approved a reduction in funding to be allocated in the 2022 and 2023 budgets, with the shortfall expected to be picked up through sources outside of the diocese.