Many of you who follow this blog will be well familiar with the situation our church is facing with the Toronto District School Board. Since you’ve been praying for us, I wanted to post an update — we still need your prayers.
If you want to get caught up on the situation to this point, you can start by reading here.
The short version of the story is that our church was given 3 days’ notice on a 450% hike in our permit fees (we meet weekly in a public school). We have been petitioning the TDSB since the beginning of September for some changes and some relief. Though the changes affected other groups as well, the most drastic hikes were targeted specifically at ‘faith based organizations,’ who are now being charged the same rates as ‘for-profit businesses.’
The Progress Report
Our appeal process has had some ups and downs, but this past Friday we had a minor breakthrough. The Community Use of Schools Advisory Committee met, and because of our appeals, has decided to recommend to the Board of Trustees that they roll back our permit fees to what they were before the hikes, retroactively to September 1, 2012. The suggestion from this committee buys us time, at least until January 1, to prepare for the re-categorization of permit groups. This would be a huge answer to prayer!
The second part of the recommendation from the Advisory Committee is that the categories previously decided upon be revisited, with a final decision for 2013 decided on in December 2012. That means that we’ve got a couple more months to petition them to treat all CRA approved non-profits (religious or not) as non-profits, rather than explicitly excluding only those who are religious in nature.
The Prayer Still Needed
- Tomorrow evening there will be an all-important meeting of the Board of Trustees. They will vote on CUSAC’s recommendation to retroactively roll back our fees, effective immediately. Pray that this passes.
- Also tomorrow evening Trustees Manougian and Hastings will be presenting a motion to remove the qualifier ‘Faith Based Organizations’ as grounds for placing religious non-profits in separate category from those that are not religious. Pray that this passes as well, as this will resolve our situation moving ahead into the New Year as well.
- Pray for ongoing conversations at the TDSB on various levels. There is still a fair amount of opposition to the notion that any religious group (be it Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, etc.) should be even allowed inside a public educational institution. Pray that the TDSB would uphold our constitutional freedoms going forward.
- Pray that the Christians who are speaking up for our cause would do so with grace and kindness, rather than vitriol and anger. We want to be salt and light, letting our good deeds glorify our Father; we don’t want to be simply argumentative.