Diocese casts net for new vision

Cast the Net Logo
 on September 1, 2022

‘We need to rediscover how to sing together again,’ says bishop

The diocese is embarking on a new visioning process to meet the challenges and opportunities of the next five years.

“After more than two years of pandemic, we need to rediscover how to sing together again,” says Bishop Andrew Asbil, diocesan bishop.

The name of the visioning process, Cast the Net, comes from John’s and Luke’s gospels. “Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.” (John 21)

Bishop Asbil says the gospel story speaks to Anglicans as they consider how the pandemic has changed the Church and begin to discern what the future holds. “After the disruption of Easter, the disciples’ instinct is to return to the familiarity of fishing. But everything has changed, and the old way of doing things doesn’t work,” he said. “Our instinct, too, may be to go back to what’s comfortable – what we know we’re good at. But God is calling us to do things in a new way. What will happen if we cast our nets on the other side of the boat?”

Synod Council approved Cast the Net at its May meeting and allocated money from the residual funds of the diocese’s Our Faith-Our Hope campaign to support it.

In June, Synod Council met the Very Rev. Peter Elliott and Canon Ian Alexander, who will develop and lead Cast the Net’s consultation and development process. Dean Elliott is the former Dean of New Westminster in Vancouver and Canon Alexander is a consultant for the national church and a former CBC executive. In addition to Dean Elliott and Canon Alexander, additional consultants/researchers will be engaged to round out the facilitation team. One of these individuals is Dr. Anita Gittens, ODT, who was a member of the steering committee for the previous diocesan strategy initiative.

The process will take place over the next 18 months, with recommendations and calls to action coming to Synod in 2023.

The Rev. Dr. Alison Falby, incumbent of All Saints, Sherbourne St., and Dave Toycen, ODT, a member of Synod Council and a parishioner of Trinity, Streetsville, are co-chairs of Cast the Net. A steering committee has been formed: the Rev. Alvardo Adderley (incumbent, Parish of St. James, Fenelon Falls), Cormac Culkeen (director of children, youth and family ministry at All Saints, Peterborough), the Rev. Dr. Alison Falby, the Rev. Andrew Federle (incumbent, St. Clement, Eglinton), Tina George (lay member, St. Bede, Scarborough),  Mr. Toycen, Eirene Wee (lay member, St. Paul, Bloor St.) and the Rev. Deborah Wilson (chaplain, Bishop Strachan School).

Cast the Net will be made up of four key elements:

Discern. This begins with listening deeply to one another and being conscious of working in a liminal time as the diocese emerges from the pandemic.

Diversity. This means being committed to finding ways to hear the voices from the margins; to resist the urge to rush to manufactured consensus; and to actively seek to add another consultant to the team.

Dream. This means to have a visionary perspective while keeping eyes on practicalities, resource requirements, availability and achievable steps.

Develop. This means a new, ongoing process for diocesan life; moving seamlessly and effectively from planning to implementation; and being a basis of a “case for support” for a major diocesan capital campaign.

Consultations have already begun with Synod Council and area councils and will continue and expand over the next several months. “We want to hear the voices of not just church leaders but as many Anglicans in the diocese as possible,” says Canon Alexander.

The consultations with Synod Council and area councils have included an evaluation of Growing in Christ, the diocese’s strategic plan that ended in 2021. Feedback is being received and synthesized by Dean Elliott and Canon Alexander and will inform future discussions. They have also spoken to the chairs of the focus area working groups for the previous strategic exercise.  

Additional conversations for Cast the Net will take place in the fall, starting with in-person consultations with clergy in September. Active clergy are expected to attend one of two gatherings: on Sept. 14 at St. Mary, Richmond Hill or Sept. 29 at St. James Cathedral’s Snell Hall.  

In October and November, deanery and parish consultations will start to take place. More information about dates and times will be shared in the late summer and early fall.

Updates on the progress of Cast the Net will be provided monthly to Synod Council, and will be shared at the diocese’s next Synod, which will be held online on Nov. 17-19, 2022.


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