Wardens and Treasurers Training Day - 2017

More than 60 Wardens and Treasurers of the Diocese of New Westminster attended the annual information session presented by Bishop Skelton and the staff of the Synod Office, Saturday, March 11, 2017. The day began with social time from 9am-10am followed by Morning Prayer, 10am-10:20 (many thanks to Glen Mitchell supplying the piano accompaniment for the hymn, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”) with the morning program content consisting of two plenary presentations, the first by Bishop Skelton and the second by Business Administrator Rob Dickson. Worship and the plenary presentations took place in the sanctuary of St. John's, Shaughnessy.

The training day began with MC, Tasha Carrothers, Ministry Resource Associate on Synod Staff asking for questions from the plenary that would be unpacked and discussed at the final plenary session scheduled for around 3:30pm. Tasha has primary responsibility for developing and administrating the Consultant’s Group, a key component in the diocesan parish development program. The questions that were submitted included:

  • How to prioritize a Parish (or Church) Council agenda?
  • Evaluating a priest’s ministry?
  • What are some best practices for conflict resolution?
  • Is there guidance and/or networking opportunities available for purchasing computer systems and software?
  • How to act as a liaison between the congregation and ordained leaders?

Bishop Skelton began her presentation by preaching a short sermon predominantly focused on the second reading heard that morning at Morning Prayer, 1 Peter 2: 4-10 on the topic of “being chosen.” After the sermon the bishop introduced all the members of staff that were present that morning. As each staff member stood up in the nave of SJS after their names were called they were greeted by enthusiastic applause. The primary purpose of the bishop’s plenary teaching session was to communicate practical information about roles. She focused on the various roles: wardens, treasurer, trustees, bookkeeper, priest, parish council members, envelope secretary.  And all of this was within the context of the bigger picture of one of her episcopal priorities, that the diocese develops and builds community. Bishop Skelton built on the list of parish roles that the wardens and treasurers had been given in their learning materials for the day to include all the levels of the structure for “we are all connected, it is a diocesan structure.” She said that the Canons of the Diocese are “not like your car’s operating manual” this ministry requires teamwork for “we as Christians don’t believe that the nuts and bolts operation and the spiritual nature of the community are separate – we are ALL TOGETHER, clergy, leaders, wardens, treasurers – a team. “ Using a number of teaching models the bishop led the group through the material leaving time for small groups discussions of the questions, “How does it work at your place?” and “What’s working well, what are the ‘pinch points’?”

The Business Administrator of the diocese, Rob Dickson was next to speak and his topic was Managing Resources.  He presented a clear and comprehensive overview of the responsibilities of wardens and treasurers, focusing on:

  • property management
  • rental oversight
  • risk management
  • payroll
  • monthly and annual financial reporting
  • data security, storage, backup

And he put in some good words about the Pre-Authorized Donation (PAD) program administered by the diocese.

Next on the agenda was lunch prepared by Bette Geddes and Associates caterers, served buffet style in the Trendell Lounge.

After lunch at approximately 1pm, the two groups split up, with the treasurers remaining in the Trendell Lounge and the wardens gathering in the Conference Room. For more than 90 minutes treasurers were presented with information by:  Controller, Shailene Caparas; Rob Dickson; Director for Planned Giving and Stewardship Development, Glen Mitchell. The treasurers were presented with the following information:

  • accounting expectations
  • audit requirements
  • banking
  • GST
  • CRA,  Federal Government
  • tax receipts
  • securities
  • data backup

During this same period from 1-2:40pm the wardens were meeting in the Conference Room, listening to and interacting with presentations from: Archivist, Melanie Delva; Administrative Assistant/Screening in Faith Facilitator, Phil Colvin; Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Douglas Fenton and Bishop Skelton. In the evaluations that were distributed and filled out at the completion of the day many wardens commented on Melanie Delva’s presentation and also on Bishop Skelton’s coverage of the diocesan Clergy Commitments that had recently been workshopped, approved and distributed. 

Archdeacon Fenton spoke about the canonical process and he answered questions about this complicated and oft misunderstood operation that had been submitted in advance by those who had registered for the day.

Phil Colvin, gave a thorough, concise and detailed explanation of the need for Screening in Faith, the Screening in Faith submission process and the responsibilities of parish officers regarding Screening in Faith and the safety and security of their communities.

At 2:45 both groups returned to SJS for the remainder of the day with Tasha Carrothers as MC.

The final plenary session included “Managing Resources Part 2” led by: Rob Dickson, Melanie Delva, Phil Colvin and Archdeacon Fenton.

Rob spoke about the critical need to pay careful attention to mail from any level of government and he gave an overview of the diocesan/parish insurance coverage. Phil and Archdeacon Fenton spoke about the diocesan Sexual Misconduct Workshops and the Anti-racism training program.

During Archivist Melanie Delva’s presentation in her secondary (but no less important) diocesan role as Diocesan Privacy Officer there were a number of wardens who asked why it was against the privacy legislation to circulate a birthday greeting or get well card through the parish email list to which Melanie replied that if you break into somebody’s house and all you do is clean the bathroom, you’ve still broken into somebody’s house and committed a crime.

The session ended with Q&A and the distribution of the evaluation sheets. The responses on the sheets were for the most part extremely positive, with a number of responders saying that although they had attended this workshop in the past, the 2017 version was by far the best yet.


  • Wardens taking notes at the warden's session
  • Bishop Skelton’s plenary presentation
  • Relaxing in the Trendell Lounges before Morning Prayer
  • Tasha Carrothers asks for questions
  • Rob Dickson
  • Glen Mitchell at the piano
  • Lunch
  • Phil Colvin presents to the wardens gathered in the Conference Room
  • Shailene Caparas presenting to the treasurers in the Trendell Lounge.