Information Resources Committee
report to General Synod on the 1998-2001 Triennium
report is for information.
supports and develops cultures
These five principles have been adopted
by the World Association for Christian Communication, and we learned
of them early during the triennium. We hope they have guided us
through a time of both significant progress and significant upheaval.
Highlights and achievements:
The triennium began with the
launch of Common Praise, born, as all hymnbooks are, amid
controversy. The book, now in its third printing, has been warmly
embraced across the church. More than 100,000 copies of the
full-music edition have been sold. A words-only edition, released
late last year, is now in its second printing, having sold more than
Anglican Book Centre sales (not
counting Common Praise) increased through the triennium. Last
year the combined operations of the publishing and retailing
operation contributed net $430,000 to General Synod's overall
revenue (unaudited figures). Although ABC is justly known as a
comprehensive source for Christian resources - with more than 25,000
titles in stock, representing more than 1,200 religious publishers -
it's worth noting that fully a third of our sales come from our own
We are pleased by consistent
reports from customers of excellent service received from a
knowledgeable and courteous sales staff.
August this year will see ABC
Publishing launch Path Books, a new imprint offering
practical spirituality to enrich everyday living. We hope with this
new line to increase our service to the seekers in our midst.
August will also see a gathering
of diocesan bookstore managers at the invitation of, and partially
hosted by, ABC. This is a professional development event that will
also help enhance our good relationships with these important
The Anglican Journal
continued to win professional recognition as one of the finest
church publications in North America, receiving numerous prestigious
awards from the international Associated Church Press and from the
Canadian Church Press. Last year these organizations awarded it
first prizes for General Excellence and Best of Class, respectively.
The Journal has worked to
keep church members well informed during this tumultuous time.
Readership response has been extremely positive. Response to the
Journal financial appeal, in particular, has exceeded expectations.
During the triennium we said
goodbye to the Rev. David Harris, who had guided the Journal since
1996, and welcomed Sam Carriere as editor, beginning with the
October 2000 issue. Mr. Carriere also continues as editor of the
popular magazine MinistryMatters.
MinistryMatters produced a
special issue called Residential Schools: Legacy and Hope, in
January 2000. This has provided a basic resource for individuals and
parishes wishing to learn more about the history of the schools, and
about our church's response. It has also been widely distributed, by
request, to members of other churches and to the Aboriginal
We have significantly increased
resources available to support the growth of our web site,
www.anglican.ca, making it
increasingly useful as a tool of communication and ministry. We make
the full text of the Anglican Journal and MinistryMatters
available on the web. An email subscription list allows anyone to
receive copies of our news releases automatically. Access to
research databases is planned.
In the restructuring imposed by
staff reductions late last year, the web staff were combined with
Anglican Journal editorial staff into a News and Information
group, an attempt to use the limited staff resources more
efficiently. The Journal's mandate as an independent
editorial voice was unaffected.
Anglican Video completed
production of Great Pilgrimages, its second documentary
intended for secular audiences. Great Pilgrimages was
broadcast on ABC affiliated stations in the fall of 2000. The
original documentary in the series, The Power Within: Healing
through Prayer, was broadcast on the Odyssey network (U.S.) this
The documentary series was
suspended in the August 2000 budget reductions. However, a
distributor is continuing to negotiate broadcast contracts and video
sales for both productions. For example, Great Pilgrimages
has been bought by a European broadcaster, for use next year; and
The Power Within will be dubbed into Spanish for a consortium
of South American broadcasters.
Among the resource (non-broadcast)
productions completed by Anglican Video in the past year are:
Northern Ministry, An Anglican Challenge, produced for the
Council of the North, with the assistance of Anglican Appeal;
Residential Schools Litigation: Information and Perspectives,
produced for the diocesan consultations last year, and widely used
in parishes; Sexual Misconduct: How to Spot It; How to Stop It,
produced for the Diocese of Toronto (this video has received an
award from the International Film and Video Association); Walking
a New Vision, for the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, a
documentary about the Sacred Circle gathering in August last year;
and a yet-to-be-titled video you will see at the beginning of
General Synod, that attempts to highlight some defining moments in
the life of the church since 1998.
We adopted a set of operating
guidelines for both broadcast and non-broadcast video productions,
to clarify and codify existing practice.
A common database for the whole of
Church House came online during the triennium, allowing greater
accuracy and efficiency. The committee developed policy for the use
of the database, and recommended appropriate security measures. A
significant portion of the 2001 Anglican Church Directory was
produced from the database.
We approved a copyright manual for
distribution to diocesan archivists.
We have been involved in
contingency planning, as part of a response to the residential
schools litigation, to determine ways in which the church as a whole
may be able to retain some common facilities in the event that
General Synod becomes insolvent. Specifically, we have looked at
particular courses of action through which: the Anglican Book Centre
can continue to function, possibly as a co-op structure; the
Anglican Journal can continue its dual roles as a national
newspaper, and as a circulation and distribution vehicle for
diocesan papers; and the integrity of the General Synod archives can
be maintained as a unified collection.
We participated during our regular
meetings in a number of continuing education sessions designed to
help us remain aware of current thinking and best practices. These
included: Christian Principles of Communication, assisted by
the Rev. Randy Naylor (then) Director of Communications, National
Council of Churches (USA); Developing web strategy, assisted
by Andy Lang, Web Editor, United Church of Christ; and Crisis
Communication and Management, assisted by Mr. Ross Perry,
We reviewed our terms of reference
and mandates, and noted that this is the first triennium of a
revised structure. While we have no proposals for further change at
this time, we have noted some more flexible operating styles to
experiment with in the next triennium.
We completed a review of our
communications strategy in our February 2001 meeting and have
proposed an outline of strategy going forward in the next triennium.
This outline is appended. It will be a subject of conversation with
committee members and staff during this General Synod meeting.
At the beginning of this triennium
we expressed to the Council of General Synod our concern about the
adequacy of the work environment at 600 Jarvis Street, including
retail space. At the conclusion we note the continuing and
intensifying pressure on staff arising from the budget cuts of the
past August. We have expressed to the Council of General Synod our
continuing concern about the long-term effect of overwork on staff
health, and about our ability to preserve essential services.
All areas of General Synod work
have been affected by last year's reductions. The impact on staff
complement has been most intense in the Information Resources area.
In response the Archives and Library are operating with reduced
hours, and the Anglican Journal is publishing fewer pages, among
other effects. Archives and Library, in particular, are stretched to
maintain basic areas of their mandates. These facilities, in our
view, represent basic infrastructure, and they are in danger.
The closing of the Resource Centre
represents the loss of a piece of infrastructure, to the keen
disappointment of many.
In the fall of 1999 we asked the
Council of General Synod to mandate the creation of an Information
Technology Strategy for Church House. Council approved this request,
but no subsequent action was taken. We continue to believe that an
information technology strategy is needed.
Despite these concerns, we are grateful
for the many achievements of the year. Speaking for the committee,
and for myself, we are extremely grateful for the dedicated work that
has been done, and continues to be done, by our professional staff.
We look forward to continuing to serve the church in the next
Rob Welch, Chair
Table summarizing goals, constituencies, vehicles, audiences, and the future