Statement released Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dear Friends;

After a while it is difficult to find the appropriate adjectives to describe the period of time we are living in. “Extraordinary” and “Unprecedented” probably top the list but many more apply. It is a time when social cohesion is needed in order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus in our communities. We are being entreated to STAY HOME, WASH YOUR HANDS, and DON’T GATHER. These are not optional behaviours, they are truly matters of life and death, if not for ourselves, than for others close to us. Health care providers and support staff, and basic service providers are valued as never before. It’s sort of a kingdom moment when the influencers in our society have been sidelined - the last first and the first become last!

In other aspects of our parish life, we are discovering a whole range of new options. Some will be more effective in certain communities/congregations than in others. It is a time for all leaders, both clergy and lay, to step up in consultation with one another about the resources available to worship, connect, teach and support. Our buildings are closed however the call to participate in God’s mission has not been deferred. Rather than a time of idleness, this has meant increased activity in many parishes as we figure out how to fulfill our traditional purposes in new ways.

In both provinces, there are continued restrictions on any gathering of more than 5 people. On March 15th, I wrote that public worship services would be cancelled at least until April 3rd, 2020. In compliance with the Public Health state of emergency in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and until directed otherwise by provincial authorities, public worship continues to be cancelled. I recommend that plans be made for this to continue until the end of May.

On Friday March 27rd, the Diocesan Council voted to waive parish allotments for April and May (in addition to the previously announced waiver for March). The diocese will also pay all payroll costs for stipendiary clergy for April and May. A small task group has been given authority to respond to other requests for financial support not covered by these first two resolutions. This is a commitment of $1.3 million to support ongoing parish ministries in this extraordinary time. It represents all of our accessible working capital. It is not intended to be a complete income replacement for parishes. We continue to explore (along with other dioceses) if we may be eligible for the payroll subsidies offered by the Federal government. Glen Greencorn, our controller, has developed a FAQ list related to the council decisions.

Where our buildings are not being used on a regular basis, there may be insurance implications. We will send out a separate information sheet for parish officers about procedures to be followed.

We are still in the midst of the planning and preparation for an Electoral Synod to take place on May 30. At it’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 17-18, the Diocesan Council will decide on a provisional alternate date for the Synod to take place. We have already cancelled or postponed all diocesan events up to the middle of June, so this seems to be a logical precaution. Having started the process to elect a new bishop, there is really no way to stop it. Therefore, the deadlines previously announced remain effective. This means that names of those to be proposed to the search committee for consideration as nominees must be submitted by midnight Saturday April 4 to the secretary of the search committee. If we are unable to gather on May 30 we will use the provision in Canon 1 section 12.2 to postpone to a date selected by Diocesan Council.

It is wonderful to see that over 50 of our parishes are now offering some form of online worship and that 12 more parishes (in areas of low or no internet service) have distributed special printed worship material to families. The majority of these worship services have been services of the Word rather than celebrations of the Eucharist. In the

past week, there has been a lot of online debate about the wisdom or appropriateness of streaming the Eucharist online. Some bishops have declared a “Eucharistic fast” for this time. I am not going to do so. There is a great variety in the ways that we as Anglicans approach the Eucharist. That variety is expressed in the Eucharistic piety of the parishes in our diocese. I will not order priests to stop presiding at Eucharist. Instead, I am leaving it up to the consciences of clergy and the discernment of parish leaders to determine the most appropriate ways to worship while we are prevented from physically gathering the Body of Christ.

There have been different calls to join in prayer across the country at different times. There have also been some suggestions regarding ringing all our church bells at the same time on Easter Day. I’m not sure that it is important to coordinate a specific time to ring the bells as much as to ring them! Don’t wait until Easter - do it this Sunday as a reminder that we are still here and as a call to prayer - not in a building but throughout our communities.

Blesssings;

The Most Reverend Ron Cutler
Archbishop of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island

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Property Insurance during COVID 19
from Peter Flemming, Diocesan Insurance Administrator

April 1, 2020

To All Parishes of the Diocese

The bigeest threats to our buildings right now are risks of Bursting Pipes, Vandalism and Fire.

Burst Pipes:  As you can see from the Vacant Building Checklist (linked below), if water is left on, then 72 hour inspeictions are ncessary.  Recommended (when at all possible) is that the toilets/sinks/pressure tanks/water pipes be drained and the water shut off.

Vandalism:  The RCMP Detachement nearest to the building should be asked to include the property in their inspection route.

Fire: Furnance inspectrions must be up-to-date/or updated.  Oil levels must be monitored.  In the event of a snow storm, access to the building must be maintained by the contractor/volunteer who normally keeps the entrances to the buildings and parking lots plowed.

I am happy to discuss any of your questions

Peter Flemming
insurance@nspeidiocese.ca

Vacant Building Checklist Contact Peter Flemming by email
The Controller responds to FAQs
Released March 31, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the decisions of Diocesan Council on March 27, 2020.

1.     What does “to pay the salary costs of all Stipendiary Clergy from April 1 to the end of May include”?

·        The salary costs include all base salary, housing allowances, pension contributions, employer share of CPP and EI premiums and the employer share of Life, Health and Dental premiums.

2.     Does this coverage of salary costs include any lay staff of the parish?

·        No. Parishes are still responsible to pay for their lay staff.

3.     Are those salary costs just being deferred?

·        For those parishes with less than $500,000 in financial investments (in the consolidated trust fund or invested locally) the answer is NO. The diocese is paying those costs on behalf of the parish.

·        For those parishes with more that $500,000 in financial investments the answer is YES. The salary costs will need to be paid back to the diocese.

4.     My parish has over $500,000 in financial investments. When will I need to pay the salary costs back to the diocese?

·        The date is not yet set. At some point in time the Financial Management and Development VSST will determine that the amounts are due. From that point, parishes will have 18 months to repay the diocese.

5.     How will the Federal Government’s announcement of a 75% wage subsidy affect my parish?

·        There are limited details on this program as of this writing (March 31, 2020) and there are a number of unknowns at this point. Diocese staff and staff from other dioceses across the country are waiting to see how this might benefit parishes.

6.     How much allotment is being waived?

·        Diocesan Council waived allotment for all parishes for April and May 2020. Previously, the Parish Relations Task Group waived allotment for the month of March. In total allotment is waived for three months on 2020. Effectively, the allotment due for 2020 has been reduced by 25%.

7.     I already paid March’s allotment, what happens to that?

·        Thank you. That allotment payment will be applied to the next month that allotment is due (June 2020).

8.     My parish has a financial problem that is beyond just salaries and allotment. What can I do?

·        Send an email to the Diocesan Controller (ggreencorn@nspeidiocese.ca) outlining your issue. At its meeting, Council established a temporary working group to deal with issues that it did not foresee. This group can discuss your issue (electronically) and provide a response very quickly.

PDF of entire document shown above Contact Glen Greencorn, Controller
Statement released Saturday, March 28, 2020

To:        The Clergy and Parishes of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Dear Friends;

The Diocesan Council met last evening by electronic means. We gathered to consider how we might further respond to the unanticipated financial needs of parishes due to the restrictions placed on gatherings. We recognize that this has not only affected monetary offerings from parishioners but also the ability for fundraising and the rental income which many parishes receive. Parishes which rely on investment income will also find this revenue affected. We are also aware that there are large numbers of people who have been laid off in our provinces. Entire segments of the economy are facing devastation as together we try to control the pandemic threat. Though our buildings are closed, the church is still open! We are still leading people in worship although in a scattered rather than a gathered way. We are also encountering increased needs in our wider communities for spiritual and mental health support. This time of crisis requires us to maintain and strengthen our ability to minister in the midst of heightened anxiety.

We are fortunate in that we have had several years of budgetary ‘surpluses’ which has provided a pool of unrestricted working capital for us to draw on. Most of this money has come from the tremendous support of parishes to the request for diocesan allotment. The Financial Management and Development Team met earlier this week and prepared some options for the Council to consider for how we might use this resource to provide relief and encouragement to parishes.

The Council passed the following three resolutions:

1.   To waive allotment payments by Parishes for April and May 2020.

2.   To pay the salaries of all Stipendiary Clergy from April 1st, 2020 to the end of May 2020, provided that, those parishes having $500,000 or more in investments (whether in the Diocesan Consolidated Trust or held elsewhere) shall be obliged to repay the Diocese the amounts paid on their behalf, by no later than 18 months after FMD VSST has determined which parishes are subject to repayment.

3.   The management team and two members of Diocesan Council appointed by Diocesan Council are authorized to make decisions with regard to requests from Parishes whose needs are not addressed in Resolutions (1) and (2) above. This authority ends on September 1st, 2020 or at such other date, as may be determined by Diocesan Council.

Council subsequently elected the Rev. Carl Fraser and Ms. Tanya Moxley to fill the requirements of resolution 3.

These resolutions build on the previously announced waiver of allotment payments for March 2020.

We do not know what challenges lie ahead of us in the next months. Our governments, both national and provincial, continue to respond to the needs of Canadians. Some of the promised assistance might apply to community and nonprofit organizations and may support our work. Details of the government support will be clarified in the coming days. In the meantime we pray that these decisions will remove some of the concern of parish leaders. We encourage parishes to explore the stewardship resources found in the Covid-19 section of the diocesan website.

“God give us faith to go forward with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us.”  (Eric Milner-White)

 

The Most Reverend Ron Cutler
Archbishop of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island

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Message from Archbishop Ron Cutler

March 25, 2020
Statement released Friday, March 25, 2020

Dear Friends;

I write today on the Feast of the Annunciation to Mary. It is a day when we give thanks for the message brought by an angel to Mary that she had ”found favour with God” and that she would bear a son who would be called “Son of the Most High”… whose kingdom would have no end. It is an account both deeply comforting and deeply disturbing (at least for Mary). It required her active affirmation of God’s plan and the assuming of no little risk. The times were perilous and they would be even more dangerous for her. Yet she says yes - “Here am I the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Reflecting on Luke 1:26-38 today I wonder: To whom are we an angel (messenger) today, bringing a word from God? What is the word from God being spoken to us?  What is the task we are being asked to undertake in our own perilous time? What new thing from God is coming to birth? Do we appreciate how much we are “favoured (loved) by God?

We give thanks today for parents and children, for strength and wisdom for parents amid `the additional pressures on family life at this time. We give thanks for our own parents and those whom we have experienced as parents in our lives.

 

Since I wrote to you last Friday, a state of emergency has been declared in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. There are some minor differences in the restrictions which this places on residents in both provinces but the most significant message is – Stay Home! Don’t go out except for necessary trips such as buying groceries. Even then it should be only one person in a household.

One of the consequences for parishes is that there are further restrictions on numbers of people permitted to gather. Gatherings are limited to a maximum of 5 persons in both provinces, and proper physical distancing must take place. Please take this into consideration if there is a necessity to gather. There have also been further restrictions on visitation to nursing homes and hospitals. Clergy may visit those who are at the end of life to bring the sacraments, although this may require advance conversations with heath authorities.

It is wonderful to read of the ways that parishes are responding to the restrictions on gathering by offering a variety of forms of worship. In some places this has been a variety of technological ways to come together ‘virtually’. In others worship leaders have shared printed resources and invited people to worship in their own homes, together in prayer but separate in location. On March 16th, 2020, I directed that there be no gatherings for public worship at least until April 3rd, 2020. This time frame was consistent with the decisions by both provincial governments to close the public school system until April 6th, 2020, and would give us time to plan for Holy Week and Easter.

It seems clear from comments made by government officials in the past few days that restrictions on gathering will continue past April 3rd, 2020. I am now requesting clergy and parish leaders to plan for a suspension of gatherings for worship for at least two months. This will mean that our observances of “the journey from the glory of the triumphal entry to the glory of the resurrection, by way of the dark road of suffering and death” will need to take unconventional forms. We continue to add resources to the Covid 19 section of the diocesan website to assist leaders in planning worship. If you have resources or suggestions, please send them to Canon Lisa Vaughn (lvaughn@nspeidiocese.ca) I also want to recommend the resource booklet distributed at last year’s MORE Mission School for “finding God in the neighbourhood.”

The Financial Management and Development Team met by video conference yesterday. They have agreed to proposals to put before a special video meeting of Diocesan Council on Friday March 27th, 2020. These proposals are for additional ways that the Diocesan structure may support parishes at this time. We are fortunate that budget surpluses over the past few years and good management, have given us a pool of working capital which we may use at this time.  While this provides us some security in the short term, I need to be open about the fact that if the restrictions on gathering continue for more than three months, more difficult decisions will need to be made. Clergy and Parish leadership should plan accordingly.

These are strange and difficult times. Patterns and schedules are disrupted. We want to know when these changes to ‘normal’ life will end, even though there is no answer to this question at this time. Powerlessness can bring anxiety, it can also bring liberation. Be gentle with yourself. This is not a sprint this has become a marathon. Use some of the time, newly available in your calendar, to be quiet, to read and to pray. Be gentle with one another, we’re all feeling some extra stress at this time. We are making the best decisions that we can, knowing that tomorrow things will probably change. We are not alone.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings,

The Most Reverend Ron Cutler
Archbishop of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island

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Statement released Friday, March 20, 2020

Dear Friends, 

Amongst many other consequences of the pandemic, you are all aware of the significant financial impact that COVID-19 has had on the Canadian economy. We are receiving questions from parish officers about the potential financial consequences for parishes. 

The diocesan office is continuing to assess the financial impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on parishes. The Diocese (through the Parish Relations Task Group) has waived payment of the March 2020 allotment for all parishes. Diocesan staff are investigating the impact of the Federal Government’s relief plan and how that may impact parishes. The Financial Management and Development VSST will be holding a special meeting early next week to determine what other steps the Diocese may be able to take to reduce the financial burdens parishes may be experiencing. We are currently arranging for a special meeting of Diocesan Council to take place as soon as possible in order to make decisions about financial support for parishes. 

The diocesan payroll for March 31st, 2020 will go ahead as normal.

Stewardship resources continue to be available on the Diocesan website and staff are available to respond to your questions (via email). We have experienced a significant increase in people signing up to make their financial offerings to their parishes through the PAR program. For information please contact Tammy Cummins. One other option for people making donations to parishes is ‘Canada Helps’

Just a reminder that the deadline for filing your 2019 Parish Returns has been extended to April 30.

We are in a virtual state of emergency in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We are in uncharted territory. While there is need for speed in making decisions to slow the spread of the pandemic there is also a need to be wise in how we can use the resources entrusted to us in order to continue the mission we are commissioned to do.

I am aware of the wonderfully creative ways that people are responding to the constraints of the moment in offering devotions, worship, bible studies and meetings by electronic and other means.

I pray God’s blessing on your continued desire to serve one another in love.

 

The Most Reverend Ron Cutler
Archbishop of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island

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Statement released Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear Friends,

Following the advice of both Federal and Provincial Health Officials for people to stay home if at all possible, the Synod Office will close as of 5:00p.m. today (March 18 2020). Synod Office Staff will continue working but will do so from home. It is a peculiarity of our office phone system that we cannot retrieve voice messages remotely, however all staff will continue to have access to their email. Response time may be slowed. We will continue to provide what services we can. This will include payroll. We are currently planning for this closure to last until April 3. A decision regarding extending the office closure will be made on or before April 3 2020.

VSSTs and Task Groups may still meet. However all such meetings will be by electronic means. People wishing to use the Diocesan “Zoom” account must book their meeting time through Jan Connors: jconnors@nspeidiocese.ca

Allotment: Yesterday the Parish Relations Task Group agreed to waive the March Allotment payment for all parishes. To be perfectly clear, the decision is that Allotment for March is waived. If you’ve already paid it there will be a credit for it. If you haven’t paid it there is no need to pay it. If you haven’t paid February that is still due. Parishes are still responsible for all salary and salary related costs.

Pre Authorised Remittances (PAR): The diocese offers an opportunity for parishioners to make financial offerings to their parish directly from their bank account. If you want more information on this process and how to sign up for it, please contact Tammy Cummins.  tcummins@nspeidiocese.ca

Parish Annual Returns: All parishes are normally required to submit their annual returns to the Synod Office by March 31. At this time, we are extending that deadline to April 30. If your parish annual meeting elected new lay and youth delegates to Synod: the “Certificate of Election” must be forwarded to the Synod Office as soon as possible.

Insurance Questions: Parish officers with insurance questions should follow the usual process. Our Diocesan Insurance Advisor is available by phone and email. Our insurance plan does not provide business interruption insurance for this eventuality.

More About Funerals: Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Prince Edward Island advised that there should not be more than 20 persons present at a funeral. The different Funeral Homes are developing their own protocols; please check their websites for additional information.  .......

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Statement released Tuesday, March 17, 2020

To:         The Clergy and Parishes of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

Date:     March 17th, 2020

 

The Diocese recognizes some the pressures that Parishes are facing given the extraordinary COVID-19 restrictions that now prevent our parishes from operating normally. To that end, the Parish Relations Task Group unanimously agreed to waive the March 2020 Allotment Payment for all parishes.

We recognize that this will not alleviate all the financial pressures that Parishes will face but it is a measure that can be done quickly.

In the coming days we will be providing parishes additional stewardship resources on the Diocese’s website.

 

The Most Reverend Ron Cutler
Archbishop of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island

 

 

pdf of about statement
Statement released Monday, March 16, 2020

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Statement released Thursday, March 12, 2020

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