$480,000 gift boosts northern ministry, theological education

An Anglican priest who ministered in British Columbia has left General Synod $480,000 in his will: $320,000 for ministry in the Council of the North and $160,000 for Global Relations and theological education. A further amount will be released to General Synod at a later date.

The priest, who wanted to remain anonymous, was “a very private, very faithful person,” said Archdeacon John Robertson, national gift planning officer. He said the man was “a traditionalist, who loved the Book of Common Prayer.” The man died last spring.

Mr. Robertson first met the priest in 1969, when both served as young ministers on the west coast. They stayed in touch as friends and in 2011, when the priest was updating his will, he sought advice from Mr. Robertson of General Synod’s Resources for Mission Department. Mr. Robertson has two decades of gift planning experience working on behalf of the General Synod.

“This priest was very passionate about theological education in First Nations communities and overseas,” said Mr. Robertson who was able to advise the man on how best to direct his funds.

Now that the generous gift has arrived, General Synod leaders will begin conversations to discern the best way to make use of the money in keeping with the priest’s wishes.

“There needs to be a conversation so that the donor’s wishes can best be expressed in how the ministry is carried out,” said General Synod Treasurer Hanna Goschy.

The use of the Council of the North gift-believed to be its biggest ever-will be determined in consultation between General Synod and the council. The gift was given to “the Anglican Church of Canada for the use of the Council of the North.”

The Council of the North is a group of nine financially assisted dioceses supported by grants from General Synod. The council also includes the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior and the Archdeaconry of Labrador.

“Any substantial gift like this is a great encouragement to those who are carrying on ministry in remote areas,” said Bishop Michael Hawkins, chair of the Council of the North. “It’s also a vote of confidence in the future of the church’s ministry in the north.”

Bishop Hawkins said that as the council and General Synod discuss how to use these new resources, the council’s commitments will be foremost in his mind: to continue pastoral care and mission in remote and isolated areas and to nurture partnership with Indigenous ministries.

The council’s ministries vary across a vast territory-some 85 per cent of Canada’s land mass. The challenges of geography and funds have inspired emerging pioneer modes of ministry that may provide new models for the rest of the church.

General Synod leaders will also discuss how to use funds for Global Relations and theological education. General Synod has many historic ties to theological schools around the world and has in the past funded post secondary theological education for specific students.

The donor’s substantial estate also designated gifts to the University of British Columbia; St. James Anglican Church, Vancouver; Trinity College, Toronto; and others.

“When I heard about this gift I was grateful and glad,” said the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary.

“John Robertson’s ministry is supported by Anglicans through their dioceses’ contributions to General Synod. In turn, that ministry nurtures generous donors who support parish and diocesan ministries, including in the dioceses of the Council of the North. We celebrate that, even when General Synod doesn’t benefit directly.”

“This work is General Synod’s ministry on behalf of the church.”

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