Budget (of Anglican Church) Hints at Reprieve

Article excerpt

Orillia, Ont.

The Anglican Church of Canada will remain solvent at least until the end of 2002.

A budget presented to the Council of General Synod in November by treasurer Jim Cullen gave a rosier picture than had been painted a year ago.

CoGs heard predictions of a balanced budget, before residential schools expenses, for both 2001 and 2002, instead of insolvency at the end of 2001, which was a distinct possibility a year ago. The improved, but still tenuous, outlook calls for revenue of $10.3 million for 2001, and expenses of $10 million, a five per cent increase over anticipated revenue of $9.9 million.

Revenues for 2002 are also pegged at $10.3 million.

A surprise surplus for 2001 of $337,210 will be used to offset prior years' operating deficits.

While describing himself as optimistic, Mr. Cullen continued to counsel caution. "We are in a recession, and (this) could impact on diocesan revenue," he said.

"Commercial revenue is also a concern. There could be a drop in advertising to the Anglican Journal, and ABC bookstore sales. Interest rates are falling and the loss of Canada 3000 could mean an increase in travel costs for General Synod."

Mr. Cullen noted that one area of uncertainty concerns the recent federal government proposal on residential schools settlements.

In November, Ottawa unilaterally announced it would pay 70 per cent of proven out-of-court damage settlements related to native residential schools. It also rejected churches' requests for a cap on liability in lawsuits where they are named as plaintiffs.

Mr. Cullen attributed the improved picture in 2001 to higher than expected diocesan contributions -- $58,000 over the budget of $8.8 million -- to improved donations to the Anglican Appeal, and to unexpected undesignated bequests and related fees of $390,000, up from a forecast of $106,000.

Explaining the discrepancy between early expectations and actual results, Mr. Cullen said, "The predictions for 2001 were originally made in extreme uncertainty. The Anglican Appeal was tanking and we were never certain of the level of diocesan support."

There were no surprises in spending on residential school litigation and support services which came in, as predicted, at about $1 million.

About 87 per cent of General Synod's revenue comes from the 30 dioceses through proportional giving which provides a common basis for dioceses to measure their contributions to General Synod, according to the budget documents presented at COGS. …