Anglican churches struggle for funding in the North

Rise in inflation, insurance costs and shrinking funding from the south are significant factors, Arctic diocese says

The Anglican church in Kuujjuaq, seen amid a sunrise in this photo. The Anglican Arctic diocese is struggling to maintain its finances as costs to maintain its buildings rise. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Abraham)

By David Lochead

Anglican churches in the North are struggling to find the money to continue operating, says David Parsons, Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Arctic.

Asked about a recent social media post that suggested the Anglican church in Clyde River is in debt and searching for more funding, Parsons responded that “it isn’t just Clyde River, it’s the whole diocese.”

A combination of factors has led the Arctic diocese into this position, said Alexander Pryor, executive archdeacon for the diocese.

One of the biggest factors, he said, is the rise in insurance costs to cover churches in the North.

“In the past decade, [insurance on a church building] has gone up from $100,000 a year to $400,000 a year,” Parsons said.

The spike in insurance became noticeable starting in 2015, he added.

Inflation plays a large role in the spike, Pryor said, adding the 10 per cent increase in insurance bills for buildings he was expecting this year turned out to be 26 per cent.

“That did set off some alarm bells across the diocese when people got those insurance bills,” he said.

Fires are another factor in the sharp rise in insurance costs. Pryor said there has been a growing number of fires at Anglican churches across Canada, which boosts insurance costs.

The St. John Anglican Church in Kinngait was damaged by fire earlier this year, one of two church fires reported in the hamlet in 2023.

The structure for funding churches in the North has changed as well, Pryor said. Anglican churches in the south, with larger congregations, used to be able to share some of their funding with the Arctic diocese. But churches in the south are continually closing these days and there is less money available, he said.

Adjusted for inflation, the Arctic diocese received the equivalent of about $18.6 million in annual funding from the national church in the 1970s, Pryor said.

By comparison, today the amount of funding received from the south is about $575,000 a year, he added.

“It’s a different landscape now,” Pryor said.

A diocese typically is a region of churches that are overseen by a bishop. The Arctic diocese has a common bank account for all the churches in the region, Parsons said.

This way, smaller communities that struggle with funding can get assistance, Parsons said. The diocese handles all the finances, such as property taxes and insurance, but the churches themselves must raise funding from their community.

With dwindling funding support from the south, plus increasing costs to operate in the North, smaller communities are recognizing that even more of their funding will have to be raised locally, Pryor said.


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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Hear me out on

    Start charging for funerals and wedding and baptism services for people who do not regularly attend church.
    Its not free to use the church. Someone has to clean it after a service. Then there’s heat, power and Staff expenses.

    • Posted by No Bible Verses for me Please on

      Please do this. Hopefully it will provide some incentive toward the provision of non-religious funeral services, an option I know many Nunavummiut would like to have, myself included.

    • Posted by 🤔 on

      Why aren’t people who use the church, including the leaders who draw a salary volunteering to clean the building?

    • Posted by Beneficiarie 63378 on

      If , they start charging , when i die , i hope i can use my Illaujuq discount.

    • Posted by Preaching to tthe converted on

      What??? More cash grabs for another organization, that is given total tax free status. The non-paying of taxes should more than offset any cost associated with the use of the facility for purposes you point out.

  2. Posted by It’s a but over on

    Religion today is dying off faster than ever in history. Scandalous, abuse and conflict, it’s laced with the recipe to cease to exist among the more new aged civilizations. The old belief system is outdated and no longer respected or needed. It’s just about over for the existence of churches. Tax free, and donations and money from the larger churches, appears to coming to an end.

    • Posted by tank the good lord for that! on

      couldn’t come soon enough! the church has stolen so much from Inuit and from people in general. it’s time for their influence and wealth to be no more.

    • Posted by S on

      Thanks Iabo

      Your comment “Religion today is dying off faster than ever in history.” misses the mark.

      In fact, religious practice has been rising steadily. Witness the increased entrenchment of climate, identify, and crisis doctrine among our citizenry. Those are prime examples of religion, evidenced by the blind rhetoric and rabid zeal of the followers

  3. Posted by nunalik on

    The church in Clyde River was only in need of heating fuel. It was all covered within 1 hour.
    Those tiny numbers on social media can be covered by local church committee.

  4. Posted by Binky the Doormat on

    A report commissioned by the Anglican church itself predicted that it would have no more members in Canada by 2040. So, there is a lot more going on here than a simple inflation problem.

    I agree, this is an outdated institution and we are, at present, witness to the end of a civilizational story. I find this worth celebrating, and loudly. That said, it is also a sombre and cautionary moment.

    At the cultural level we should anticipate and expect to see something, or many things, compete for the void (niche?) left behind by the withering away of our old religions. The idea of a linear progression that always moves toward something better is itself a deeply embedded idea (story) that can distort reality at times. Though I too believe that is the overall arc of history when we zoom out and observe patterns over large swaths of time; in the short run things can easily get worse, even for generations.

    My hope is that a deep awareness of our psychology, what things drive us and what things we tend to easily trip over will help us actively shape the future stories we come to rely on in positive ways. My fear is I am being too optimistic. I guess we will see.

  5. Posted by 867 on

    Just host bingos aka child tax and welfare redistribution. If it werent for bingos there would be no money for anything in the north. Can raise money for just about anything as long as there’s a prize involved

  6. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    Organized Institutional religions around the world are on there way out as many people are awakening to the abuses of power, sexual abuse abuse. breaches of trust from the various churches over the centuries. The people running these churches are all humans with flaws like you and me. This does not mean all is lost, many people are doing their own inner work and are looking at the meaning of our existence on earth in a spiritual way. It was wrong of the christian churches to try and eradicate native peoples original spiritual beliefs, as they are part of culture often very interconnected with their environment. Do not judge someone who does not attend any churches; it does not mean that they do not believe in a higher fabric of the Universe that is most wonderous. Organized religions was created to control society. We as parents , if we teach our children and grand children good human values, decency and love towards each other and all that surrounds us. That is the goal, to live peacefully with each other. Different religious churches have fought each other, separated families , created war, conquered people many people died over the centuries because of this. We need to go back to square one.

    • Posted by The Jesus Magic on

      An interesting question, seldom discussed, is why did so many Inuit so readily convert to Christianity to begin with? Why did so many cede, or transform their former beliefs? Did they think they would gain from it? I imagine they must have.

      • Posted by Alaskan on

        The early people turned away from their religion when they saw the white people could break all the taboos and ignore the spirits and the shamans and nothing bad happened. Removing the fear of the spirits, taboos and the shamans was freedom. Eagar white missionaries have forced their religion into that void.

        • Posted by The Jesus Magic on

          This is good stuff… I would add that the technologies and materials that accompanied the whites also implied that theirs was a powerful god. So, from an Inuit perspective I imagine it was very tempting to see what he could deliver.

  7. Posted by Frank on

    You can be a “spiritual” person without being religious.

  8. Posted by King Charles on

    Maybe King Charles can help.
    He’s the head Anglican.
    And he’s fabulously wealthy, his family have not paid taxes in centuries.

    • Posted by King Charles on

      King Charles could help. But he won’t.
      He has the money. But he and his family are about taking, not giving.
      Their idea of giving is to ask others to give.
      The only reason Anglican even exists is because his great, great… grandfather wanted to divorce his wife and marry someone else.
      The pope said “No”.
      So that king said “I start my own religion, I make me head of the new church, and give myself permission to divorce any time I want to.”

  9. Posted by Christine on

    We need to encourage people to attend Church, not just people but young people and they can give to the Church during the offerings. Maybe do a community bake sales at least once a month. Every little bit helps. Prayers for the community to work together.

    • Posted by Why tho? on

      Why should anyone give money to the church? And why should we encourage our children to believe in delusions?

      • Posted by SARCASM on

        Go to YouTube and watch “” George Carlin on religion “” . it will crack you up !!

  10. Posted by Let me get out my tiny violin on

    One of the biggest land owners in Iqaluit complaining about rising costs? Don’t they own a bunch of real estate downtown that just sits empty most of the time? Seems like prime locations, maybe they should think about selling some of that stolen land that was ‘gifted’ to the church by the Queen.

  11. Posted by Blah Blah Blah on

    Yes we have a bunch of armchair atheists coming in to in with what seems to be some fragile self confidence to say how delusional and outdated and harmful religion is as if the debate is over and the arguments against Christianity are air tight. If you’re intellectually satisfied with the many holes in that philosophy then good for you. All I need do to harbour doubt is refer to the most secular society ever known where more people were killed in a few decades than were killed in all of human history.
    Yes the church always needs money. Congregations eb and flow and have for thousands of years, along with their donations. However Christianity was once very small and actively condemned before taking the Roman Empire and the world by storm. Anything can happen, but what I can say is that now more than I can remember are people searching for meaning and purpose and there is opportunity.

    • Posted by Binky the Doormat on

      Christianity, though I am less certain about ‘religion’ generally, is very dated. Its philosophies have not resonated with our broader culture for a long time. As we move forward it is not difficult to see that divide continuing to grow.

      It’s not that the case against Christianity is air tight, it’s that the case for it is so filled with holes, contradictions, and absurdities that devotion to it appears inexplicable to all but those who have been sadly indoctrinated into it from childhood. Of course, it is easy to impose these kinds of frameworks on the intellectually defenseless child. In my opinion we need much stronger social prohibitions against this form of abuse.

      You’re right about the search for meaning and purpose. That fact of our psyche undoubtedly animated and drove the rise of most classical religions at their origin. Yet today, as we watch them crumble, we see their inability to provide meaning or purpose is part of the force that is sweeping them aside.

      Is this cause for celebration? For sadness? Is it an artifact of a process that we can merely observe? A little of each? I suppose that depends where you approach this from.

    • Posted by josywales on

      Yet you believe in one religion trying to kill off other religions and beliefs in order to be more powerful? Please read all history about the Spanish inquisitions, Hitler trying to wipe out another race and so many others trying to be more powerful over others.

  12. Posted by hermann kliest on

    Most mainstream churches are losing their membership to more free churches than ever before; meaning, these other churches are preaching strictly from the Word; no formalities, rules and long repetitive proceedings, and not to mentioned here about tithing according to the Word. nickels and dimes from congregation will not sustain a church.

  13. Posted by Not just churches on

    It’s not just churches that are concerning when it comes to donating, look at many other organizations and this society and that society. Donating money should be done with caution. You take when you buy something in a store and at the cash, they ask for a donation, say to children hospital, homes or some other society for children, we all feel on the spot to give, but be careful. Just how much goes to the actual society is not known, and the store ends up with a tax receipt for customer donations. Hey, if you’re going to give, give yourself directly, not by way of a big store, and think about who you’re giving to anyway. I say no to church myself as starters.


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