An online virtual meeting of the Synod Council of the Diocese of Ontario was held on Tuesday May 25, 2021. Highlights of the meeting include:
- The Rev Trish Miller opened the meeting with a devotional on the Venerable Bede, an English Benedictine monk.
- Council was updated on the status of the diocese through the COVID 19 Pandemic. We remain in the “Red Stage” of “Loving our Neighbours,” with church buildings closed and worship online only. The diocese will remain in this stage until the provincial re-opening allows us to return to our buildings (July at the earliest). Diocesan leadership continues to consult with medical experts, health units and other dioceses.
- A summary of the financial impacts (based on CEWS data) was presented. For January to April, income across all churches was down by just over $300,000. This was partially offset by the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) funding from the Government of Canada, which provided over $140,000 to parishes. The diocese received an additional $30,000 of CEWS, which has been placed in the Church Pandemic Support Fund. Council allocated $1,000 (plus tax) from that fund for paying the deposit for Third Party Insurance for 2021. This supports groups that rent church facilities (and therefore both church financials and community service) and ensures churches are protected from liability. This will allow the program to continue once our buildings are re-opened.
- Synod Council invites groups or committees to make an annual presentation to Council. The Worship Committee made a presentation on their work and continuing activities. Rev Lynn Mitchell presented on the Worship Committee’s behalf.
- The diocesan Program Engagement Coordinator, Taylor Lynch, provided a detailed summary of her work researching and analyzing the current situation, needs and opportunities for mission in the community around the Adelaide Street Mission (site of the former Good Shepherd Church in Kingston). Taylor’s research with community groups and service providers identified a number of specific areas of need. Taylor will return to Council in June with a set of recommendations and proposed plan for moving forward. This work will also provide a framework/template for use in other parts of the diocese.
- Council received an update on the New Ministry Grant program being developed by the Executive Board (Robin Jones presenting). The program is planned to launch at Synod 2021 (October).
- The Synod Planning Steering Committee update was provided by Canon Michael Read. Planning for a “hybrid Synod” where a number of connected “hubs” across the diocese if conditions permit or a fully “online” Synod if they don’t. Work on program, logistics, technology, worship, etc. are well underway.
- Council received an update on the 2022 Budget process and provided guidance for its preparation. Challenges will need to be worked through given the impacts of the pandemic as well as normal changes. The 2022 Budget will be presented at Synod in October 2021 for approval.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of Synod Council will be Tuesday June 22, 2021 at 6pm. This meeting will be online only.
The approval of the minutes of the May 25 meeting are pending. For questions about Synod Council, please contact Alex Pierson, Diocesan Executive Officer, by email at email@example.com or by phone at 613-544-4718.