Spring, the season when many will get back into their gardens, plant flowers and vegetables and enjoy God’s creation, is also the season when work begins to plan and create the diocesan budget. “This season is both a challenging time and an opportunity to continue God’s mission of building the kingdom of justice, love and peace in new and creative ways in the Diocese of Niagara,” said Archdeacon Peter Scott, chair of the Missional Budget Planning Committee, alluding to Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, which reminds us that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
The committee’s mandate is to create an annual mission-shaped diocesan budget, directing resources to renew the work and ministry of the diocese, to respond to episcopal priorities and to align with the strategic vision and objectives outlined in diocesan Mission Action Plan (MAP).
One of the ways this was accomplished for this year was by setting aside $50,000 to continue to offer rebates to parishes which completed a Mission Action Plan, allowing parishes to resource the ministry goals they had discerned for their community.
Four members of Synod, one of whom is a member of the Financial Advisory Committee, comprise the committee, along with the bishop, executive officer, and treasurer.
From May through October, the committee meets monthly to undertake its work, consulting with the Financial Advisory Committee, the Cathedral Place Property Management Committee, and Synod Council throughout the process. The bishop and diocesan leadership team also consult with staff and ministry leaders to develop priorities and discern how best to resource emerging MAP initiatives.
Funding to support the work of the Anti-Racism Working Group is an example of how the budget committee has directed resources to support the objectives of the diocesan MAP. “The budget for this year is helping to create a ‘made in Niagara’ anti-racism curriculum that will be far more life changing than anyone involved could have imagined,” says Archdeacon Scott.
“The current diocesan budget makes a 3.6 million dollar investment in ministry, equipping us for the mission to which God has called us through this extraordinary time and continuing to make significant investments in ministry through our parishes and the wider Church beyond our diocese,“ says diocesan treasurer Kemi Okwelum. “We heard the concerns voiced at last year’s Synod, and will strive to carefully steward the diocesan financial resources, ensuring essential supports for our parishes and the wider Church remain.”
Once a draft budget has been firmed up, with cost-of-living and inflationary adjustments and Diocesan Mission and Ministry assessments finalized, it is presented to Synod Council in September for review, before being shared at pre-Synod meetings with members for additional feedback. After taking what is heard in the consultations into consideration, a penultimate draft of the budget is presented to Synod Council in October to commend a final version for Synod’s consideration. Once approved by Synod in November, the next season of the diocese’s vital ministry begins.