Magazine article Anglican Journal

Where Do You See Signs of Hope in the Church?

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Where Do You See Signs of Hope in the Church?

Article excerpt

ALL THAT REMAINS now to seal the future of the Anglican Book Centre, the Toronto-based bookstore of the Anglican Church of Canada, is just one vote by the decision makers that comprise the Council of General Synod (COGS).

By the time this newspaper reaches most Anglican Journal readers, CoGS will almost certainly have voted in favour of wrapping up the storefront operation of the bookstore, commonly known to Anglicans as ABC. The plan, as drafted by a group tasked with examining the church's funding and what work priorities it can afford in the long term, is to continue ABC strictly as a telephone-based and Internet operation (please see news story, p. 1).

Most observers met the announcement of the plan with resignation; some were surprised, but the writing had been on the wall for some time for the book-store. Once a cash cow for General Synod (in better years, it returned significant revenues to the church's national office), it had in recent years dissolved into a sinkhole, recording losses. Last year, it recorded sales of $2.89 million and a loss of about $222,000. Examined alongside the national office's $1.1 million deficit, it was already in peril; the decision last year to lay off six staff and cut back on the bookstore's hours, combined with the decision not to replace two managers who resigned, almost certainly sealed its fate.

Although a report--commissioned by the national office's directors--recommended the creation of a director of ABC who could be involved in the store's day-to-day operations and was at the same level as the directors, management not only ignored that advice, but it decided not replace the store's two middle-management staffers. Instead, a large team of bookstore staffers and the directors of the departments of financial management and development and communications and information resources shared oversight of the business.

So, once CoGS approves the plan (and, as the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, noted in his announcement of the plan to staff, "it is very unlikely that they are going to turn back these proposals. There is no plan B;"), what next?

In the last decade-and-a-half, the national church's bureaucracy, which ticks away in the same building as ABC in downtown Toronto, has cut and cut and cut. The last attempt at strategic planning has so far failed both the national office and the church at large.

(In 2004, General Synod, the church's triennial decision-making national meeting, approved an overly ambitious six-year plan that was a bit of fantasy; it recommended that the church continue the work it was doing and that, when finances allowed, new pieces of work, many of them jettisoned in an earlier strategic plan, be added. …

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