Magazine article Anglican Journal

Ecumenical Council (Canadian Council of Churches) Cuts Staff

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Ecumenical Council (Canadian Council of Churches) Cuts Staff

Article excerpt

Toronto

Two of eight Canadian Council of Churches staff have been let go in a restructuring designed to cope with a $100,000-short-fall in income from member churches.

Coincidentally, a third staff member associated with international development will be leaving, but the move is unrelated to the restructuring and will have no impact on the budget. Funding for the position is provided by the federal government's Canadian International Development Agency.

The council has 17 full member churches, including the Anglican Church, and two associate members.

The council is revising its structure and will be left with five full-time equivalent positions, said interim general secretary Rev. Robert Mills.

Included in the new positions will be restoring the general secretariat to a full-time position, said Mr. Mills. The position has been part-time for the past five or six years.

The administrator and business manager positions have been combined, as have the staff positions heading the two remaining commissions, faith and witness and justice and peace. (In 1995, the council eliminated the education and ecumenism commission.)

The cutbacks, the second in as many years, are raising questions about the future of the council and of the ecumenical movement in Canada.

The council was founded near the end of the Second World War to foster Christian unity through interchurch co-operation. Today, its 19 members include the mainstream denominations, several Orthodox churches, and a number of other national Christian communities.

In the past, the council provided resources for projects such as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. To avoid running a deficit, it has reworked its mode of operation to become a forum. Rather than generating programs, it will be a think-tank to engage member churches in reflection on issues of common concern.

"It's a sheer sense of what we can afford, not what we need," said Mr. Mills. "If we could afford it, we would have three or four commissions with enough staff to do everything we needed to do, but we just can't afford that kind of operation anymore."

The council's financial squeeze is not unique - it reflects problems similar to those of the member churches. But since the council is funded by grants from those members, the money crunch is rippling through the system. …

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