Report Number: 008

Information Resources Committee

Report to General Synod on the 2001-2004 Triennium

Remembering Where We Were

At the beginning of this triennium, the General Synod -- and its standing committees -- faced many challenges. One of those challenges was to work at issues of healing and reconciliation with indigenous peoples. At the same time, General Synod faced possible bankruptcy in light of the costs of residential schools litigation. One of the effects of that challenge was to highlight a need to preserve key ministries of General Synod for the use of the church should bankruptcy occur. Some of those ministries were within the purview of the Information Resources Committee. The following is what we did in response to the crisis that existed at the time:

Where We Are Now

As noted above, during this triennium the Information Resources Committee oversaw the incorporation of the Anglican Journal, the potential incorporation of the Anglican Book Centre and the possible sale of the Archives. In the end, only the incorporation of the Anglican Journal proceeded; nevertheless that one significant change requires a restructuring of the Information Resources Committee and how it works. The committee, in the past triennium, also reflected at length on internal management decisions that have seen ABC’s reporting function move from General Synod’s Information Resources Department to Financial Management and Development, and the Archives from Information Resources to the General Secretary. Given the Journal’s incorporation and these other internal changes, we are placing before you a resolution amending the committee’s terms of reference. The resolution also reflects the committees desire for the flexibility to structure its work as changing circumstances require. The resolution also asks General Synod to ratify a name change for the committee from Information Resources to Communications and Information Resources, in order to better reflect priorities and to dovetail with a similar change in name for what is now the Department of Communications and Information Resources.

The Committee has also re-examined its structure in terms of the number of members. There is another resolution before you.

Throughout this triennium IRC has seen a number of staff changes. Most critical to the work has been the appointment of a director. In the first two years of the triennium, Information Resources had two succeeding acting directors -- Jim Boyles and then Sam Carriere. In June, 2003, Sam Carriere was appointed Director. This was a very significant and happy moment for IRC because it is difficult to develop and maintain coordinated communications without someone in a coordinating role.

There were other significant staff changes. Shortly after Mr. Carriere’s appointment as director, Leanne Larmondin, formerly Web writer and later acting editor of the Journal, was confirmed as editor. After many years of dedicated service to General Synod, Terry Thompson resigned as Archivist to begin other work. Following an interim period with Laurel Parsons as acting archivist, Nancy Hurn was appointed General Synod Archivist. Keith Nunn, in effect the founding designer of the General Synod Web site, resigned and was replaced by Brian Bukowski. The Anglican Journal hired Marites Sison as staff writer. Vivian Snead replaced Ms Larmondin as Web writer, and after her departure, Diana Mavunduse was hired to a changed position styled Communications assistant / Web writer. Two other staff changes were implemented to reflect a growing emphasis on corporate communications. Caese Levo, formerly half-time assistant librarian was made full time in that capacity. And Josie De Lucia, formerly half time as assistant to the director was also made full time. Throughout the many changes of this triennium the staff have been incredibly dedicated, resourceful and passionate about the work of the church entrusted to them. They cannot be thanked enough!

Issues of the Triennium

“Parishioners and clergy alike seek increased communication, and new tools to meet the needs of congregations across Canada” “The Anglican Church of Canada would act as a conduit for information sharing across Anglican communities of faith.” These two quotations from the Environics report Stained Glass, Sweet Grass, Hosannas and Songs (page 25) emphasize one of the major concerns of the Committee during the past three years. The findings of the Environics report were considered, as was an internal report to Management Team (later made public and circulated to the Council of General Synod) by communications consultant Sam Galati. Both pointed to the need for greater and better corporate communication -- coherent communication by General Synod both internally among General Synod staff as well as externally to General Synod’s constituent members in dioceses and parishes. How best to accomplish that has been an ongoing concern for the Committee. Some of the ways we have begun to address the issue are:

Coordinated communication is one thing; resources are another. In addition to the ongoing work of corporate communication, IRC has worked to oversee the development of resources for the church at large. ABC Publishing’s new imprint Path Books, offering practical spirituality to enrich everyday living, is but one example. Some of the resources are for sale; many are given at no cost. All, however, need to be distributed. That has been an ongoing concern throughout this triennium. With the loss of the resource centre due to budget cutbacks in 2000, the gathering and distribution of resources has been problematic. All too often resources continue to be distributed from a box underneath someone’s desk—not the most efficient use of time or staff resources. IRC gave considerable thought to this problem without, as yet, finding an adequate solution.

Often overlooked as resources are the databases and archived materials of the General Synod. These resources, whether print, film or electronic, are vital to the information services of the church. Whether it is finding Lambeth resolutions on a particular issue through the Library database or gathering information on the Sunday School Commissions of the 1890s through the Archives, these services are in constant demand. Both the Library and the Archives were affected by previous budget cutbacks. With ever-increasing demand for their services the staffing of these areas continues to be of concern to the Committee. Also of concern is the effect of privacy legislation on how our databases and archived materials are used. The Committee worked on this issue through the development of policy. Further work will need to be done.

Challenges for the Future

In the midst of rapid change, communication is both difficult and vital. Feedback from the church through the Environics report points to the current critical need for effective communication as did an intentional listening process mandated by the Council of General Synod as part of the development of a new strategic plan. Our challenges will continue. Chief among them is how to meet increasing demand with staff and budget already stretched to the breaking point. Strategic direction needs to be developed and decisions made, and these will be among the primary task of the newly restructured Communication and Information Resources Committee. Other challenges to be considered are:

The challenges are many but the resources of staff and volunteers are great. Those who commit themselves to the work of communication in the church—whether staff or volunteers—do so with incredible passion for the work. That is a resource that cannot be measured. That is the resource on which we have built much of our past and on which we will build our future.

Respectfully submitted

Cheryl Kristolaitis
Chair, Information Resources Committee