ANGLICAN JOURNAL BOARD
Highlights of February 12th, 2007 Meeting
We gathered at 9.00 am and were welcomed by Rob Towler. Opening worship prepared and led by Peter Davison was followed by check-in time.
Sam Carriere reported that the Communications and Information Resources Committee faced a cut to 10 members from 14, with Primate’s appointments reduced from four to two. Further cost savings to be realized by eliminating one meeting per triennium. POP is to report to COGS on all this. Sam noted that Monica Patten had urged that the church move from a model of scarcity to a model of abundance – i.e. to focusing on what we have going for us rather than we lack. Some had agreed with her; others had not.
Leanne Larmondin focused on preparations for General Synod, highlighting the Anglican-Lutheran relationship and indigenous Anglicans. The May issue of The Journal is to be delayed to allow for profiles of primatial election candidates, and the June issue will become a "summer issue" to allow for reports on General Synod. She has prepared a package for the Associated Church Press awards program, and has had some difficulty securing contact information for potential advertisers for a proposed advertising supplement to mark the Primate’s career upon his retirement. The General Synod daily is "a go", and regular staff will be supplemented by Mel Malton and Art Babych. The "Generation" Web site is being used as a resource to attract younger readers. She noted that an online book review entitled “The punk and the professor and what they say about God” had scored a record number of website hits. There have been no further actions to block media access to the House of Bishops, but this remains a watching brief. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s April visit is seen as an opportunity for dialogue, though it may be simply delivery of some retreat addresses.
Peter Blachford reported that the audit had not yet begun, that diocesan givings were on target, and the issue of budgeting for undesignated legacies was still alive. There are no financial statements for 2006 as yet. The biggest worry is the ABC deficit and its implications for the budget. On the good news side, we now own the Church House building, which cost $2.7 million and is now appraised at over $5 million. Savings will be realized from withheld grant allocations. There is no news on undesignated legacies, and staff are still opening envelopes from the Anglican Appeal
Saskia Rowley gave a PowerPoint presentation on her work for the Journal, General Synod posters, PWRDF, the Canadian Church Calendar (which this year received rave reviews!), General Synod displays, signage, the General Synod worship book, the AIDS Exhibit, and the mock-up for the General Synod daily newspaper. She has also received thanks for her help with the layout of Topic (New Westminster).
Larry Gee gave his business report, noting that the 2006 Appeal yielded the second highest return in Journal history. A test appeal to new donors yielded some response, but was also expensive. Overall support for the Journal continues to be strong, thanks mainly to direct mail responses and donations through Canada Helps. Donations from the new monthly donor program will generate $8,000 annually.
Brian Bukowski noted changes to the website. Online subscribers receive email notifications, and the General Synod daily will be posted on the site. The Google search engine is a great improvement on the earlier one, and the issue of "problem ads" seems to be resolving itself.
Josie DeLucia is getting used to her new position, and becoming more accustomed to doing web posting. There is a growing contact with ECUSA. She is also communications assistant in the newsroom. Both her jobs are big, but she is enjoying the challenge.
Bev Murphy reported a slight decline in readership, but noted the success of the letter-writing campaign to Heritage Canada, which involved other religious periodicals as well. She also noted that the NDP critic for Heritage Canada is a former writer for Catholic New Times, and suggested he might be helpful to us in the future.
Stuart Teather reported an increase in advertising revenue, but noted that not all advertisers will continue because the demographics are not favourable to many of them. We need to work on attracting non-traditional advertisers. 2007 should see the renewal of many existing ads, and we should go after products and services focused on seniors. There is the possibility of a boost as a result of General Synod. Whatever we may think of the United Church’s bobble-head Jesus, their campaign certainly garnered media attention. Stuart also noted he had been unable to get contact names of General Synod suppliers from staff, even though its is standard business practice to seek advertising from those who get contracts from one’s company . Altogether, we are about one third of the way to where we need to be in terms of online ads, and alternative advertisers are being sought for the Primate’s farewell supplement.
Michael Pollesel expressed interest in creating a Development Office for the national church. Would the Journal be willing to be part of this? It would need careful handling, as it would have to be about "the story", not another layer of bureaucracy. There would also be a need to respect privacy issues.
Leanne added that the Journal has a display booth at General Synod in a strategic location which will attract both Anglicans and Lutherans. A travel mug might be a good promotional giveaway. There will be a need for volunteers to distribute the General Synod Daily to all hotel rooms at 6.00 am. Mel Malton will do cartoons for this paper, and there will be a display of diocesan papers.
DISCUSSIONS AND MOTIONS
There was some comment on issues of transparency and accessibility. Much of the church’s leadership seems to be in a reactive and defensive mode, and there is a lack of proactive leadership. There is also a need to have at least one Journal board member on COGS, as well as the prescribed two on CIRC. Some members had difficulty with the treasurer’s stated inability to give financial forecasts because of "best practice" rules or lack of necessary information. Is it "best practice" to withhold, even internally, the information we need to engage in responsible financial planning? It is not helpful to have end-of-the-year surprises, especially when these take the form of large deficits. Questions were raised about the timing of the audit, and of audit and finance committee meetings. There is also a need for a cushion to deal with unforeseen expenses. On the good news front, negotiations are under way for ecumenical partnerships to rescue the Anglican Book Centre, and for a possible better location for the store. These would entail no financial risk to the church.
- Re: Michael Pollesel’s memo on committee size, it was decided to defer further discussion to our October meeting.
- The nominations committee is to be reminded that at least two Journal Board members should be members of CIRC.
- The CIRC recommendation that we reduce our meetings to five per triennium raises problems for our operation, and will also be discussed in October.
- Leanne’s report on her "guest speaker" visit to St. Clement’s highlighted her, and our, awareness of the ongoing need to educate people about the nature and role of The Anglican Journal.
- Given the uncertainties of the time, we need to think about crisis management planning.
The board passed the following motions:
- That we request Church House management to arrange for regular ads from people with whom we do business.*
- That we thank Dorothy Davies-Flindall for her work in arranging sponsors for the General Synod Daily.*
- That we convey to COGS our desire and consent to have the Journal audit included within the General Synod audit.*
- We noted with satisfaction that Margaret Jenniex will monitor our concerns as a member of the Council of General Synod.
- The sub-committees of the Journal Board are to meet via email (or otherwise) and report to the October Board meeting, with copies of minutes/decisions to Rob.
- Appreciation was expressed to the staff and our President.
* Indicates that the exact wording of these motions is to be found in the final minutes.