To All Members of HTSSM
At our Vestry meeting in January of 2017, we passed two motions. The first indicated support in principle for moving to one building and directed the Rector and Wardens, after appropriate consultation, to prepare a report indicating which building should remain open and present that report to a Special Vestry meeting. That motion carried unanimously.
The second motion directed the Rector and Wardens, after appropriate consultation to prepare a report outlining possible future models of ministry for HTSSM. That motion passed with one vote in opposition.
This letter is part consultation and part preliminary report on the work that the Rector and Wardens have completed. It contains our conclusions and suggestions for the way forward. This letter has been vetted by Parish Council and is sent with their unanimous support. It is our intention to have a period for interchange of ideas and discussion, followed by an open forum discussion, before a finalized version of this report and a motion on future direction is presented to a Special Vestry meeting. While it may be ambitious, it is our hope to have that Vestry meeting in late May or early June.
The first step was for the Rev. Canon Keith Nethery to meet with the Bishop of Huron, the Right Reverend Linda Nicholls and the Archdeacon of London, the Venerable Sam Thomas. This meeting was to ensure that we are “colouring inside the lines” when it comes to the Bishops vision for the Diocese and the Deanery. That is especially important given that Bishop Linda is in her first year as our Bishop. She was very clear in our meeting that it was her wish that the path for parishes in the Deanery (and by extension the Diocese) should happen organically, in that parishes and people would choose to talk and vision together. There is no doubt however that those conversations must occur and come to some fruition to secure the future of the Anglican Church in London. Bishop Linda was supportive of the idea of one building and felt it was appropriate to do it now rather than waiting until we are in a financial emergency. She expressed concern about how we would continue our mission to the community surrounding the closed building and about stewardship now and in the future. She felt that we needed to make a business case for the decision and was quite pleased to hear that our agreement to become a parish includes a clause that any change in buildings in the first five years must receive 85 per cent support of those attending a special Vestry. She felt that ensured that we had to be diligent in making sure that we had done our homework and listened to all thoughts and ideas. She also asked that we ensure the entire process was held in regular prayer.
From there we began the wider discussion about what the longer future of HTSSM might be. We had an extensive conversation about demographics in the various communities within the parish. We also looked at growth potential in those communities. There was also a significant conversation of what potential new models might be available that HTSSM might wish to investigate. Again, the term organic was used to describe the nature of these discussions and it was also clear that we were talking 3 to 5 years perhaps longer before such a model might develop. The Bishop is very much appreciative of the model that we used to bring HTSSM together in that we carefully built relationships long before we began talking about new parish structures or models. Bishop Linda suggested that she would be supportive of an application to the Huron Development Fund or use of the proceeds of sale of a building to provide a paid part time position for the above 3 to 5 year period to help us better determine the demographics and nature of our communities, look further afield to see potential relationships with other congregations and generally get a better sense of the mission field around us. It was suggested that Messy Church, with it's appeal to young families, might be the vehicle to help us in this project.
The final element of our conversation involved the question, “Are either Holy Trinity or St. Stephens well located for long term future ministry?” In that discussion, the answer leaned to “no!” The Glencairn community is unlikely to be able to financially support a stand alone Anglican Church. However, there are considerable mission needs in that area. The Westminster Community is surrounded by ponds on three sides and is unlikely to grow. The demographics appear to be ageing. The White Oaks community would appear to be rapidly becoming multi-culture and multi-faith. The Summerside community does not appear to have significant expansion in it's future. The growth seems to be south of Southdale Road and west of Wonderland Road, making our current locations on the fringe at best. There needs to be discussion long term.
With the consent of the Wardens, I asked Bill Yeomans, Coordinator of Financial Records to produce for us, based on 2016 actual numbers, a report indicating the cost of running each building and the income that each would bring in. The complete report is available to those who wish to see it, but the important numbers are the following:
In 2016 we spent $29,663.25 to operate SSM and the building next door. We spent $15,777.14 to operate HT. SSM and the building next door generated rental revenue of $37,444.10. HT generated revenue of $1,860.00. The resulting conclusions are important. The SSM buildings make a net income of $7,780.85 while the HT building is a net cost to operate of $13,917.14. It is important to note that the bulk of the SSM income is from two rentals, one in the parish hall and one in the building next door. While both are on long term contracts, they both contain 90 day out clauses. We learned a couple of years back that this source of income is not a guaranty. Another significant note is that SSM has two buildings (one well past 100 years old) which increases the potential for major projects.
It is important to note here that, in general terms, we are not yet in a financial crisis, but we can see it coming over the hill. Bill Yeomans suggests that we are good for this year, but next year will be a different situation. Christ Church Glanworth is in the process of asking to be deemed a Chapel of Ease, which means it would no longer be a full time church. That means a hit to our budget of nearly $11,000 in the ministry fees that CCG has paid over the last several years to HTSSM.
2018 apportionment will take a larger bite of our revenues. It is hard to predict exactly what that bite will be. Some background will be helpful. Diocesan apportionment is based on our expenses and is calculated on figures from two years previous. Our 2017 apportionment is based on 2015 figures when we were still two parishes. The HT apportionment is $20,945 and the SSM apportionment is $26,522. By Church Canons, when we joined to become one, we would be responsible for both apportionment amounts for two years (2016 and 2017.) In 2018, our apportionment will be based on 2016 expenses, the first year we became one parish. For both 2016 and 2017 our plan was to pay the HT share of the apportionment from the HT Rectory fund, which the Diocese allowed us to use for that purpose. That will carry us late into the fall of this year. In 2018, that support will not be available. Because our expenses were reduced in 2016, as compared to 2015, the total apportionment payable should be less the $47,467 we are paying this year, but the subsidy of the HT Rectory fund will not be available. This could well be a $5000 to $10,000 increase to our 2018 expenses. Unless something changes it seems that we would incur a significant shortfall in 2018.
It was our goal in the new model of HTSSM to bring us to a place where we could operate the parish from the offerings of the people and use other income for outreach, programs, reserves etc. That has not materialized. By moving to one building, we hope to achieve that goal, at least in part, which will put us on a better foundation for part two of this equation and that is to enter discussions with other partners about a further Model of Ministry that will put us on a solid foundation from which to go forward.
After receiving all this information the Wardens and I had a lengthy discussion and came to the following conclusions and time lines.
1) It would be our recommendation that the Holy Trinity building be closed and either re-purposed or sold
2)It is not in the interests of anyone to drag this process out any longer than need be so we propose a time line of – opportunity for input and discussion from the date of this letter until Sunday, May 7th. The Rector and Wardens will make themselves available as much as possible for questions and discussions. On the afternoon of Sunday, May 7th, we would hold an open forum discussion at the Holy Trinity Campus. Canon Marian Haggerty who is aware of and in agreement with (1) above (although it hurts!) is available to HT members for pastoral care and conversation. A special Vestry meeting, to be chaired by the Archdeacon will be arranged in consultation with the Venerable Sam Thomas, and be scheduled for late May/early June. A motion will be drafted from the contents of this letter, the input and feedback received and the evaluation of Parish Council. If the motion receives the required 85 per cent support at the Special Vestry, a motion could go to the Diocesan Council meeting on June 23rd and a fall closing date set. All this is speculative as we need the support and concurrence of the Bishop, Diocesan Council and the Archdeacon.
3) We will almost immediately begin discussions and planning for the long term future of HTSSM. It would be our intention that the parish will continue to carry the name Holy Trinity St. Stephens Memorial in honour of the six plus decades of service to our communities. We would want to pursue the possibility of a grant or proceeds of sale to help us evaluate the demographics of the wider area.
Personal Notes from Canon Keith
This is a letter that I did not want to have to write. I want you to know that I was up front and honest when I said on several occasions that I could see scenarios that would see us keep HT and scenarios that would see us keep SSM. I believe that what is proposed in this letter is the best course forward for the Mission of HTSSM and that is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe this will position us well to take the next steps in reaching out to those around us and be a strong part of the overall strategy to allow the Anglican Church to bring faith to many more people in the city of London.
We need to be clear that if the ideas in this letter are approved that we will not abandon the people who have come to rely on Holy Trinity. We would work with the Glencairn Community Resource centre to continue mission and outreach programs and continue to support those in need in the community around.
Perhaps Bishop Linda said it best in our conversation. This came early in the discussion after we had raised the idea of one building and before we began to talk about which one. She said that she hoped that those from the building to be closed could in some way see this as providing stewardship for the way forward. No matter which way we decide to go, the building to be closed will provide a crucial fiscal resource in making new dreams happen. And in making those new dreams happen, we will find the stories of all those who have built the buildings in our parish, feel the love and care they have had for God's house and know that their voices with ours are raised in worship of the One who gives us life and invites us to live it fully.
This Pastoral Letter provides information dealing with the first motion passed at Vestry which focused on the idea of moving to one building. While there is reference to the second motion dealing with future work on the model of ministry, there is nothing in this letter that would be a concrete direction toward how we might proceed. Rather, we are “thinking out loud” about what the possibilities might be. Until a final decision is made on the “one building” question, we will continue to reach out to others in the community to investigate and evaluate potential paths. Once we have a final decision on buildings, then we would be able to ramp up our discussions about what is next.
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery
Harry Harris – Rector's Warden
Rick Pritchett – People's Warden
Beth McKinlay – Assistant Rector's Warden
Joe Cadue – Assistant People's Warden