For the past three years, Canon Geoff Jackson, senior development officer at the national office, has worked with a team of experts to cultivate good stewardship practices at the parish, diocesan, and national levels. The program was called Letting Down the Nets, and in December 2007 it received a boost with a $200,000 donation from the Diocese of Huron.
“Huron’s donation is significant for two reasons,” said General Synod Treasurer Peter Blachford, “one is that it’s a show of support from the dioceses in terms of the kind of service and support we’ve been able to give them. The second reason is actually having this money coming in, because it saved us $200,000 for the General Synod budget.” In 2007, General Synod had loaned Letting Down the Nets $200,000 to cover costs.
Bishop Bruce Howe of Huron said the diocese was pleased to contribute: “We decided to give the money as an outright grant,” he said, “We’re not always in a position to do that, but we believe very deeply in the national church and we are family.”
The donation means that Letting Down the Nets ended on a strong note: it covered its own costs and left a legacy of projects that will continue to run in different dioceses. The program aimed to bolster stewardship education, help dioceses meet their target of giving to General Synod, improve major and planned gift strategies, and help coordinate various national fundraising drives.
All of these goals were about finding the resources (financial and otherwise) to continue, and perhaps even enhance the Anglican Church of Canada’s ministries.
To make all this happen, the Letting Down the Nets team traveled to different dioceses to help them form stewardship committees and facilitate stewardship planning. They provided resources, participated in clergy conferences, offered “train the trainers” sessions, etc. Dioceses also had the opportunity to donate to the national office (through life insurance, outright grants, etc.) so that programs like this could continue.
The Diocese of New Westminster was the first to give to Letting Down the Nets. Other dioceses that gave funds to the program were Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and P.E.I., Fredericton, Ottawa, Ontario, Toronto, and Calgary.
Although the name will no longer be used, the work of Letting Down the Nets will continue within the future national development office. Canon Jackson looks forward to this new stage. “I see us expanding our services to dioceses and parishes,” he said.
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