Magazine article Anglican Journal

Forging a New Ministry: Seven Churches to Close; Others Buy More Time

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Forging a New Ministry: Seven Churches to Close; Others Buy More Time

Article excerpt

A dramatic restructuring of the diocese of British Columbia was approved in part by the diocese's synod in early March. Seven churches--most of them in the Victoria area--are to be closed and sold or leased, and parishioners have been asked to relocate in reconstituted "hub churches."

But the 190-member synod of clergy and laity refused to go along with the recommendations of the diocese's transformation team to close another six churches.

The diocese currently has 52 parishes, and covers British Columbia's Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

While B.C. diocesan bishop James Cowan urged delegates to avoid "bargaining," several groups of parishes did just that ... and received a few more months or years to grow and enliven their ministry. The transformation team insisted, however, that this time be limited. It also advised that recommendations be put into effect should the diocesan council determine that change had not taken place.

Although many struggled to save their own parishes and buildings, all delegates seemed to endorse the thrust of the report--that Anglicans must find new ways to expand their mission, gain new members and balance the books. In his charge to synod, Bishop Cowan praised the work of the diocesan transformation team of four clergy and four lay people for their "thoughtfulness, vision and courage." He commended the team's emphasis on wholesale transformational change, noting that attempts at a gradual or incremental change over the past 40 years had not been effective enough.

Diocesan treasurer Peter Van Giesen reported that in the past year, the diocese has run up a $400,000 deficit on a $1.9 million budget. "It would seem to me the financial reality is out there. ... It's the money," John Lindsay, St. Peter, Lakehill, told synod. "This is about the real estate." Lindsay's parish was given six months to come up with a new plan.

Diocesan leaders insisted, however, that the reason to reorganize the diocese was primarily ministry, not money. "None of the money from any sale or lease will go towards the diocesan budget," said Bishop Cowan. Instead, these funds will go into a diocesan fund to finance new initiatives.

Dean Logan Menamie asked synod delegates to think "not from a parish point of view but from a diocesan point of view. …

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