A strict regime of cost cutting and layoffs has not cured the Anglican Church of Canada’s cash crunch, the primate Archbishop Fred Hiltz told members of the synod of the ecclesiastical province of Canada last week in Montreal.
Archbishop Hiltz stated that the close of the second quarter of 2012, the Anglican Church of Canada was running a deficit of C$900,000. The national offices of the Anglican Church of Canada are not the only institutions facing financial shortfalls, dioceses and church institutions are reporting a decline in income, and last week a seminary announced it was closing its doors.
"The General Synod is struggling financially and if the truth be known we have been on this trajectory for a long time," Archbishop Hiltz according a report printed by the Montreal Anglican.
The primate said the last General Synod had resisted the temptation of engaging in the “dangerous tendency of deficit budgeting,” and had sought to balance income and expenses by introducing cost savings measures including a 25 per cent reduction in the national church’s staff. "We have done some pruning and we have some more to do," said Archbishop Hiltz.
In his address to the 70 delegates gathered for the province of Canada – the internal ecclesiastical province comprising the seven dioceses in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces – Archbishop Claude Miller of Fredericton said the province and its dioceses would have to restructure to stay alive.
Talks have begun within the province about merging the dioceses of Quebec with Montreal, Nova Scotia with Fredericton, and the three Newfoundland dioceses into one. Delegates to the 20-23 Sept 2012 meeting also voted to reduce the size of the triennial synod from 31 to 23 members.
Talks have been underway for several years between Quebec and Montreal about consolidating their operations in the Franco-phone province. In 2009 Bishop Dennis Drainville said his diocese was “teetering on the verge of extinction” and of the diocese’s 82 congregations, 50 were childless and 35 congregations had an average age of 75.
These graying congregations often had no more than 10 people in church on Sundays, he said. “The critical mass isn’t there, there’s no money anymore,” he said.
Between 1961 and 2001 the Anglican Church of Canada lost 53 per cent of its members, with numbers declining from 1.36 million to just 642,000. The rate of decline has increased in recent years, according to an independent report given to the Canadian House of Bishops in 2006 by retired marketing expert Keith McKerracher. Attendance statistics for recent years have not been released by the church.
Canada’s Anglican ecclesial structures are not alone in facing a cash and attendance crunch. At its May-June meeting, the college council of the College of Emmanuel & St. Chad in Saskatoon voted to suspend operations at the end of June, 2013.
In 2006 the college, the official accredited theological college for the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land, sold its buildings to the University of Saskatchewan and has been renting space from a Lutheran chapel.
In a statement announcing the closure, the college council president Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon said the decision to close had been made in light of the “current financial condition of the college, the ongoing decline in student enrolment, and the current and projected costs of operating the college.”