3/27/2015

Bishop Ogé Beauvoir leaves Diocese of Haiti for Haiti Office of Food for the Poor. (corrected)

Bishop Ogé Beauvoir is leaving his appointment as suffragan bishop of Haiti to work for Food for the Poor, an interdenominational relief and development agency working primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. In a news release on 3/26/15 posted on the  Food for the Poor website, 

"The Board of Directors for Food For The Poor-Haiti has named Bishop Ogé Beauvoir as Executive Director/FFP Haiti Office. He will be responsible for the charity’s operations within the country and provide a vital link to the organization in the United States. The appointment is effective on May 1. 
...
He is currently Bishop-in-charge of the Northern Region of the Episcopal diocese of Haiti, a role he will relinquish when he begins work with Food For The Poor."


Bishop Beauvoir was ordained bishop in Haiti May 22, 2012. 

The Episcopal Church of Haiti, which currently consists of a single diocese, has grown so large that it may soon request to become two dioceses.




3/26/2015

Learning a new language, the language of Calculus

Here in Preludium land an experiment is underway.  Blogger me (Mark Harris) is attempting to learn the language of calculus.  I'm very bad at it, just as I am with Spanish, French and Creole. So why in the world try?

Well, three reasons:

(i) as the text "Calculus, from Graphical, Numerical and Symbolic Points of View" (by Ostebee and Zorn) states, "Here is another reason to study calculus" because calculus is among our species' deepest, richest, farthest-reaching, and most beautiful intellectual achievements." It begins to see the abstract mathematical language as a language that tries to make sense of change, variables, in a context where change itself is understood as a function of a world view. And the beauty of it is that if I can grasp even a bit of it, I grasp an idea that permeates my thinking and talking about a whole range of complex ideas.  Well, at least I hope so! deep, rich, far reaching and beautiful... sounds good to me.

(ii) as a bona fide ol' fart, I need to exercise the grey cells with some depth or lose them entirely. This stuff is exercise indeed. The problem is, as an ol fart it is also hard as hell, but there it is. It's supposed to be hard.

(iii) I have a sense that beauty in mathematics is linked to beauty in other realms, and I am in other realms - spiritual life, liturgy, poetry and printmaking, walking with beauty all the time. So the guess is that doing this work, as much as I am able, is another window into the world where the mind and the world are one, because beauty in the last instance is one.

What does this have to do with Anglican futures?  Well who knows. Maybe not much, but I think otherwise. Just as I think making art is a factor (dare I say a function) related to Anglican futures. Not directly of course, but in that round about way that living in community, with all its various spiritual, mental and even mundane ways, is a complex variable system in which beauty often escapes our notice, caught up as we are in the flow, the change, the flux, of things. 


by Mark Harris, woodblock
Being Anglican is a difficult way to be Christian, for the assertion of faithful being is, for us, not a settled thing, but rather made up of constants and variables interlaced and unsettling. Being Anglican means keeping mind and heart and soul in constant relation such that the faith is expressed every day in ways that surprise and renew.



From Rocky Horror Picture Show

More, I am convinced that living biblically (as Stringfellow would say it) is about living in a world of constant engagement with life and language and meaning, such that The Word of God lives creatively in us. There is a strange calculus of engagement with the biblical world that requires grasping the reality of God in words that always fail, in deeds that always fall short, in live that always are too short for wisdom's maturation. Perhaps a bit of training in calculus is a reminder that the grammar of theology is filled with variables within functions that name at least part of the range of our experience of God's presence.
by Mark Harris, etching

And, of course I am stating it badly.

Suffice to say, the experiment may fail completely, for mental agility is sometimes a younger mind. But, maybe Dylan is right, and we can be forever young. I also have a lot of help from a mathematician in the family, Jo Ellen, who is putting up with petite problems (although large to me) along the way.

Meanwhile, Preludium will also be scoping out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath (and otherwise) are found.  Not giving up my night job just yet!




3/25/2015

Communion Partner Bishops doing the Anglican Covenant two-step. (reformatted)

Bishop Dan Martins, of Springfield, a fine man and great blogger, wrote this in his comments on day four of the House of Bishops Spring Meeting:

"The time slot after dinner was dedicated to various interest groups, so I hung out, naturally, with my Communion Partner colleagues. CP is dedicated to fostering the highest degree of fellowship possible between TEC and the other Anglican Communion provinces, especially those in the Global South, and advocating continuously on behalf of the Anglican Covenant. We had some strategizing to do as we look toward General Convention."

Well, there it is: the Communion Partner Bishops had a chat up at the House of Bishops Meeting and worked on strategies related to General Convention. 

What might they have been strategizing about? Certainly strategies concerning the "highest degree of fellowship possible between TEC and the other Anglican Communion provinces" are in order. I would think most of those strategies would be of great interest to the World Mission Legislative Committee. Some of the critique of the Continuing Indaba thingy of the Anglican Communion office will surely come up. Certainly there will be issues concerning relations the Global South provinces and relations with GAFCON (they are not the same). And of course there will be the concerns of missionary action in a hostile world and the relation with Islam in its many forms.

But sure as the sun comes up, the strategies will indeed include "advocating continuously on behalf of the Anglican Covenant."

Last time around, when asked if TEC would assent to, sign on to, approve, or adopt the Anglican Covenant, the General Convention responded with "not now."

There is already a resolution being suggested for this Convention regarding the Anglican Covenant, coming from the Task Force on the Anglican Covenant. I am sure that there will be from one source or another a simple resolution, reading something like this:"Resolved the House of ________ concurring, that the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Salt Lake, Utah, June 23-July 3, 2015, adopts the Anglican Covenant." Likely there will be one resolving that GC reject the Covenant.

There was some passion last General Convention for and against the Covenant, many supposing that because we were asked we were under some constraint to answer at Convention.  Those advocating for the Covenant and those advocating against the Covenant wanted to put the General Convention on record. None of the passionate were pleased with the result, which rejected both positions.

This time around, I detect little passion. Time has passed the Covenant thingy by. The big items on the agenda this round are about marriage, the budget, re-imaging the church, electing a presiding bishop, and maybe doing something about theological education. 

The Anglican Covenant will not draw much careful interest.

That is both a curse and a blessing. I believe it should get no attention at all. That is, the Task Force should note that there is little new action out there on the Covenant and have done with it for the moment, recommending that we continue to monitor the developments regarding the Covenant and make recommendations as necessary in the future.

 
But if it gets some attention from the Communion Partners, and little attention by those opposed or wanting to kick the can further down the road, we could end up having a up or down vote get to the floor, where in the rush of legislation it might slide on by with a tepid yes vote.  

So it becomes important to know just what the Communion Partner bishops are thinking about doing, and to know just what sorts of resolutions are coming forward and from where. And it becomes important to have witness at the hearings who speak against the Covenant, or for continued non-engagement. 

The counter to advocating for the Anglican Covenant by adopting it is still not necessarily advocating against adoption ever. It might still be to advocate not adopting it now.

We might remember that there is no definitive "no" vote. A "no" vote now could be changed in three years to a "yes."  The Anglican Covenant managers in the higher realms of Anglican land are not (I believe) interested in the "no's"... those can change over time. It is the "yes" votes that count.

Of course "yes" can be reversed as well, but saying "yes" and later saying "no" is a bit more difficult to pull off with grace.The value to the yes vote is that it is evidence that things are moving along and all will be well in Anglican land lead by the Anglican Communion Office.

At the moment I can think of no reason to say "yes" and buy onto the Anglican Covenant. I believe it to be a seriously flawed document. The arguments against it are increasingly persuasive, particular the arguments that draw on decision making in the Church of England - decisions which would have been much more difficult had the CofE adopted the Covenant. See Lionel Deimel on this HERE.

If it came to a yes or no vote, I'd advocate for the "no."
But I don't think it needs to come to that.

Those who think TEC is going down the wrong path on many fronts would perhaps love it if we voted "no."  It would simply prove their case once again.


Why give them the satisfaction?  

And of course, should they prevail, we would all be in deeper than we want. Suddenly those who believe TEC is the terrible thing GAFCON believes it is would have many cases to prove their point. And bishops (and others) in TEC would have grounds to bring the wayward into line on the grounds that their actions ran counter to world wide Anglican norms. 

The whole trouble with this Anglican Covenant thingy is that it is the prelude to a world wide Anglican Church - it is the prelude to the Anglican Communion as yet another branch acting like a tree. There are too many branches acting like trees out there already, and too much of that wood has been used to burn out the heretics and malcontents. Do we really need a world wide Anglican Church, whose purpose is to keep the party line pure and the local franchise undefiled? 




Not now, not ever.

3/18/2015

A House of Prayer for All People, yes or no?

Isaiah 56:7  "My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah said it, Jesus quoted it, and there it is.  The question is, just what does that mean in practice? What did Isaiah mean by that, better yet, what did God mean by that?

This past week has seen a good bit of internet noise about the Vicar of St. John, Waterloo, who allowed an "Inclusive Mosque Event" at his parish. It was a case of taking Isaiah seriously. 

The event was I suspect controversial from all sides. "Inclusive" raises hackles, I am sure, among some Muslims as it does among some Christians. That the event had to be held elsewhere than in a Mosque is interesting. 

Well, the Vicar welcomed them, and caught a lot of flack.  It would seem that the Church of England does not believe that being a house of prayer for all peoples includes holding public worship that involves religious practice other than that of the C of E.  He has apologized and life, as they say, goes on. Sort of.

Several outraged purists have vented on the matter. Perhaps the most demanding of those is the essay by Peter Ould, found HERE.  He asks, " Can Muslims worship Allah in an Anglican church?"

Not surprisingly his answer is, "No."  Concerning the actions of Canon Giles Goddard, he writes,


"When Giles Goddard describes hosting an Islamic Worship Service as a matter of “framework and guidelines” he attacks the fundamental constitution of the Church of England. The subject of who should be worshipped in a Church of England consecrated building and what form that worship should take is a matter not of framework and guidelines but of doctrine and canon law. To relegate the worship of a non-Triune God to just being the subject of “framework and guidelines” is to undermine (if not deny) the first five Articles of Faith of the Church of England. To argue that the decision as to whether an explicitly anti-Trinitarian worship service where the most basic of Christian symbols were deliberately and specifically covered up or removed is valid or not is merely a matter of “framework and guidelines” is to tear numerous entries out of the Canons of the Church of England.

This apology is not acceptable."


Of course the apology was not made to Peter Ould. But nice of him to slam Canon Goddard with such force anyway.  What's going on here?

Well in the next paragraph Ould swings wider first at the Bishop of Southward, with whom the righteous right have had some difficulties, and then at the Archbishop of Canterbury. He closes by writing, 
When Giles Goddard describes hosting an Islamic Worship Service as a matter of “framework and guidelines” he attacks the fundamental constitution of the Church of England. The subject of who should be worshipped in a Church of England consecrated building and what form that worship should take is a matter not of framework and guidelines but of doctrine and canon law. To relegate the worship of a non-Triune God to just being the subject of “framework and guidelines” is to undermine (if not deny) the first five Articles of Faith of the Church of England. To argue that the decision as to whether an explicitly anti-Trinitarian worship service where the most basic of Christian symbols were deliberately and specifically covered up or removed is valid or not is merely a matter of “framework and guidelines” is to tear numerous entries out of the Canons of the Church of England.
This apology is not acceptable.
- See more at: http://anglicanink.com/article/can-muslims-worship-allah-anglican-church#sthash.kTkzbzGk.dpuf
Can Muslims worship Allah in an Anglican church?
Can Muslims worship Allah in an Anglican church?
 


"Most serious of all, if Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and patron of the parish of St John’s Waterloo, believes that at a time when our Christian brothers and sisters across the Middle East and Africa are dying as martyrs for publicly claiming Christ as saviour, that our international Anglican and wider ecumenical partners will accept this fundamental denial of the Christian faith, then the very role of Archbishop of Canterbury as the primus inter pares of episcopacy across the Anglican Communion will be jeopardised.

This is now a crisis engulfing not just a single parish in London, not just a single Diocese, but the whole Church of England. Every time that some form of excuse for the events of the 6th of March is published the situation simply exacerbates."

Ah! This is all a chance to slam the wicked Church of England, in favor of a world wide Anglican community ordered by the Global South, or GAFCON folk, or whatever.

Well, good luck with that.

Meanwhile, what did God, Isaiah and Jesus have in mind by saying "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?" Offering hospitality to what appears to be fairly progressive Muslim group wanting to have men and women worship together seems to have gone too far.

But do these words apply to churches as houses of God?  If so, are there any guidelines, of a practical sort, for what is and is not meant by being a "house of prayer for all people?" Because the CofE is a state church all sorts of matters, including this one, get made more complex. But still... what does it mean for a place to be a house of prayer for all peoples?

I've got some ideas about what it might mean:

(i) Individuals are welcome to enter the house and pray to God privately. How they pray may be limited in one way or another, using the rule of distraction (don't do things that distract community users from their own devotional life.) But in general, private prayer in a public place of worship is welcomed.

(ii) I would hope that houses of prayer would be open to others for public worship in other traditions when catastrophe happens.  If a masque or a synagogue or temple were to burn down and that faith community had no place to meet for public prayer, it would seem right and good to offer them space for worship. If the only practical space was the "house" - the "sacred space," so be it. This comes under the heading, "my house is your house." 

No doubt there are problems to be overcome. If Muslims or Jews or others find the visible signs of this place being a Christian house (crosses, altars) offensive what ought be done? 

I am opposed generally to removing signs of Christian faith. At the same time there could be creative interchange in living with others in our midst. For the altar to become a bimah on which the Scrolls might be opened and read might be an eye-opening way of relating Torah and Sacrament. What would a discussion of the presence of a crucifix lead to, between Christians and Jews, as they prayed and talked together about the Jewish experience of Christians as persecutors?  Could there be place of mutual care born of the necessities of the moment?  A marker directing the worshiping community of Islam toward Mecca would seems reasonable. Bells to call Buddhist meditation to begin or close would be fine.  I am less sure about incense, offerings of foods, removing pews, ridding the place of books of worship.  It would seem that some devotional practices are more intrusive than others. The practice of hospitality works both ways: guest and host alike need to work at what is intrusive, what constitutes good manners, and what the occasion requires. But mostly this sort of thing would require honest engagement.

Still, I would hope that other faith communities would be welcomed into the church as a "house of prayer,"  not only for individuals but for "peoples."

(iii) What about hosting a special event which would not otherwise by condoned by the guest's own religious community?  Suppose there was to be a prayer service for the life of the nation, for those in service to the nation, and that that service was to be ecumenical and interfaith both? Is a Muslim prayer acceptable in such a service if it were held in a CofE church?  How about a Jewish prayer, a Hindu prayer? Again, there would be considerable work to be done to make sure people could worship with grace and in good conscience, but at the same time to make sure that the host congregation's own witness is not compromised. Can it be done?  Of course. It is done all the time. 

Perhaps the question is not "Can Muslims worship Allah in an Anglican Church," but "Should Muslims be allowed to worship Allah in an Anglican Church?"  I have no notion if a Muslim believer CAN worship Allah in an Anglican Church. Perhaps covering crosses and such makes it easier to use the space, but that also makes the space less than what it is - a house of prayer.  My hope is that God, however developed the idea of God,  can be worshiped everywhere. 

The question might better be, "Should Muslims be allowed to worship Allah in an Anglican Church."  Perhaps a beginning answer might be, "Yes if for reasons of hospitality a Muslim community is given or seeks refuge in the Church for a variety of reasons." "No, if the nature of the service, the intent of the praying community, or the purpose of worship is to deny the validity of the faith of the Christian community in place.

Does the worship of God as Allah deny the reality or validity of the Triune God, worshipped by Christians?  Who knows? Muslim believers (as I understand it) don't worship a Triune God.  Christians work hard at making the three One, and if One, then the One is like but not the same as the One the Muslim believer worships. 

But here's the rub: The mystery of the fullness of the person of God is just that, a mystery. That means dear friends, that if the God that Isaiah spoke for, who made extensive claims to being the One, says "My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples," we need to find ways to be hospitable to people who don't share in the mystery of the Trinity, or have other mysteries of their own. Or, we can simply say the invitation that God made through Isaiah was wrong.


Meanwhile I suggest whacking people on the head with canons and doctrine who offer hospitality into the house, as if it were a house of prayer for all people is, to put it bluntly, scary.



2/18/2015

Strong Priest Woman, Strong Writing: Really big question about Mission, with a not nice answer: Listen.

(Out there in Episcopal / Anglican blogland I check in regularly on several sites written by women and men who are constant guides to my own mutterings here in Preludium-ville.  So hold on to your hats! We are in for a ride on the wind of the Spirit.  This is one of my longer posts, but I hope you read it from one end to the other.)

Vineyard Stomping Truth Tellers 

Today (February 17th)  a strong woman friend has posted yet another piece that cut a path of truth telling, tramping down a bit of the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored.

Now it is well known that vineyard stompers have to drink a bit of the wrath grapes themselves, so not surprising that they are sometimes decidedly not nice.

The amazing Margaret Watson, priest and pastor in Lakota land posted today a meditation titled, "Liberals have no enemies."  The meditation mostly concerns the many to many deaths in the community in which she is priest, too many funerals, too many bodies, and too little support for this remnant of mission in Episcopal land.  
 
At the end she recalls the Psalm for the morning, Psalm 28.  I quote less of it than she did:

"O LORD, I call to you;
my Rock, do not be deaf to my cry; *
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the Pit.
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, *
when I lift up my hand to your holy of holies.

Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the evildoers, *
who speak peaceably with their neighbors,
while strife is in their hearts.
Repay them according to their deeds, *
and according to the wickedness of their actions.
According to the work of their hands repay them, *
and give them their just deserts.
O LORD, they have no understanding of your doings,
nor of the works of your hands; *
therefore you will break them down and not build them up.
"


Yow! The great smack down indeed! 

Margaret writes, 

" I  know --I'm supposed to love my enemies... not wish them a righteous smack-down. But this morning...

...at least you can tell I'm not a liberal... because liberals try to get along with everybody... they have no 'enemies' --right?!"


Margaret prays the smack-down. There are enemies out there, mostly people who have just looked the other way at the suffering and its causes, at the paucity of our compassion, and who are in need of "just deserts."  She is, of course, talking about most of us (by which I mean me and my kind.)

Margaret is, I suspect, an enemy of liberals, who as she says "try to get along with everybody."  So liberals do have enemies.  Is Margaret my enemy? No..far from it, unless I hate conscience snapping at my heels and heart.

But she is raising an anger which I believe will become clearer and greater as the months go by and which will be heard even in the high places and the tall cotton vistas of General Convention in Episcopal-land. 

I want you to read the progress of Priest Margaret's voice. It will take a few moments, but READ!

Priest Margaret Speaks:

Some weeks ago Margaret voiced a concern about the General Convention budget and the monies for work with indigenous peoples and domestic mission. 

On February 7th she wrote:

Next week, folks from church headquarters will come for a visit... it has been proposed that monies that have gone to support the Reservation clergy be slowly eliminated --that the churches here become "self-sufficient." The are coming to see....

In speaking with my Bishop this week, I said that so much of the work here is 'Presence' --yes. But it is presence at the foot of the Cross. The cross the church itself helped create as a tool of the government. The cross our government created in our names in the cause of nation-building.

And now the church itself wants to go be Pilate and wash its hands... in the Name of the Bottom Line, in the Name of Self-Sufficiency, in the Name of the Budget."


The people did not come, weather problems I think,  but the issue continued:

She wrote on the 11th: "sigh"

"I have the story all wrong... I'm sorry....

It's not that the monies for this place will be slowly eliminated... it's that the Church will give a grant so that the People here can figure out how to become self-sustainable, because the current model for mission is not sustainable.... And, in the meantime, what money is in the General Convention Church budget will be frozen at the same level as was given three years ago.

That's not "eliminated."

Besides, don't you know, it might be spiritually degrading to be on the receiving end of such "mission" --it might create unhealthy dependency....

I don't care how it's spun... who can't read between the lines? Who can't understand the intent?

I have to admit my absolute electric shock to be on the receiving end of the words 'spiritually degrading' and 'unhealthy dependency...'. It was good for me.

I hope I said something to the effect of --the church helped make these circumstances... it can't just wash its hands and walk away.

But, I think that is exactly what the church will do. It will do all it can to protect the survival of the institution first.

It's an interesting time to be an Episcopalian, heh?"



Then she wrote several days ago, on February 13, with this title: how might we be a prophetic voice in dead-end situations?"

"So-- what is needed? How do I best say what needs to be done?

I was unprepared in so many ways to say what really needed to be said. I was knocked off my feet by the assumption that the way forward --of cutting funding-- was already a done deal --that it is necessary for the sake of the whole church to work on eliminating the work done on Reservations in South Dakota from the budget.

All I could do was yell.... mostly about my own neck... which is not the most important nor most pressing part....

So, what is needed?

A business plan? (I wonder what St. Paul would have said...)

--sigh--

  • What is needed is consistency of presence. Long-term consistent presence.
  • Opportunities for children to experience, participate in and express worship, learning and fellowship.
  • Engaging, culturally relevant liturgy and learning for all ages.
  • Accessible (in every way) education for locally trained/ordained clergy.
  • Low-cost sustainable, off-grid places to gather, baptize, share bread and wine, celebrate, pray, and bury.

--In these circumstances:

--in the places of the lowest income in the US. The two counties that comprise the Cheyenne River Reservation are ranked 4th and 11th. Of the first ten lowest income places, South Dakota is listed five times... all of them on Reservations.

--in a place where genocide --cultural and physical-- have been perpetrated....

--in a place where the promises have been broken, again, and again, and again, and again....

--in a place where the Church has been a player in all this....

As I said in a note to my Bishop this morning:


--in order to build a culture of understanding all Christian life and ministry, especially ordained ministry (it's taken the greater church at least a generation to begin to fully accept and embrace some of the theological implications of our prayer book revisions --and those implications are largely un-taught here, or run counter-culture).
--to build the programmatic infra-structure of education and training for all ages

--to find ways to 'house' worship and programs in low-cost, off grid, durable structures.

To do such would require more trained clergy right now, on every Reservation, and a unified push, a consistent presence.... because what we are doing now is, indeed, not sustainable. Through previous budget cuts, we have been forced in to unsustainable patterns of ministry that do not build, but are on a dead-end path.
So, the first action the Church must take is to support (at least) South Dakota's first asking of the Budget Committee --an increase.

And why should the greater Church support this ministry?

--as my Bishop said, for the sake of its own soul...

If the whole Church cannot support such ministry as a sign of repentance, reconciliation and restoration, then it has already lost the Gospel, and has nothing to say --to any one.

What the heck does it mean to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery if we then do nothing to repent of it --true, sacrificial repentance....
"




And thinking ahead to Ash Wednesday she wrote on February 17th:
 
"Ash Wednesday. But no one I serve needs to be reminded of their mortality. No one I serve needs to hear that they are dust. Not really. As the talks of more cuts to social services and food stamps fill the air, the silences are filled with the present remembrance of children having beer cans and beer thrown at them at the game. The authorities call for patience.

Patience is what happens while promises and treaties are broken, and another generation suffers.(and) Awakens to the stories, now made real. In their flesh and blood."



Priest Margaret Speaks, and The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society needs to listen.

Listen, because she is right. Broken bodies and promises are proof, and liberal (or even conservative) niceness cannot hide the fact, that we are losing our collective soul as we lose the willingness to be and support compassionate witness in the hard places and hard times.  

This is not about a business plan for self sufficiency. This is about presence and love greater than estrangement and the great witness of a people and a place totally marginalized by damn near everybody including the Church and the churches.  We believe that Christ is there. Should we not go out and meet the Christ there? 

We need to take a careful look at the General Convention budget. What portion of the whole is in fact for domestic and foreign mission?  What in support of that mission? And in what does that mission consist?  If the monies are kept at their current level, what does that really say?

I have been part of the missionary work of The Episcopal Church for most of my ministry- as appointed missionary, as university chaplain, as staff officer of the church center in higher education and world mission, as executive for a small mission agency (GEM), as a member of the board of the DFMS / Executive Council and most recently an adviser to the Bishop of Haiti. 

What Mark, priest, has learned:

(i)  Everybody talks incarnation, but everybody is suspicious of those who try it.  Presence is no where near as containable as is Program.  And funding or not funding a program is about encouraging or killing off a project sort of thing.... its not personal. Funding a presence... well if you stop, you are killing off a persons engagement.

So the myth is built that mission as presence breeds dependence, that such missionaries are unrealistic and unbusinesslike, that presence is no substitute for program.

Right....tell that to Jesus, his companions, or for that matter tell that to the presence of God's love in those who are supposedly the "clients."  Tell that to the wise woman story teller who carries her people in her words, whose presence is Christ present (if we read the matter rightly).

(ii) Mission activity requires that we give ourselves and what we have away so that others might live.  It is always a loosing financial and personnel proposition.  

The proposition that we are sustaining the current level of support is a fiction. $100,000 three years ago is not $100,000 now.  And as to the emotional support, no recognition that this is in fact a reduction in support is a blow. 

The proposition that we recruit fewer church workers - clergy and lay persons - as part of a strategy to force self-sustaining ministry is at the very least misguided, at the most a missionary sham. To get a flood of ministry from within a community will require a flood of ministry with that community. Have we not heard, (Mark 4:25) "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."


(iii) The greater love is not the program that works and the buildings paid off and the liturgy that is fine and refined. The greater love is to give one's life for one's friends.  The missionary task is to love greatly, incarnationally, presently... to love one's friends, which requires that we make friends, that we have friends, and that they trust us when we say we are there for them.  


Of course we have programs, of course we attempt to measure and get better at what we do. But the object, dear friends, is to live, be, and die for and with friends.  So I am not persuaded that success in domestic and / or foreign mission is a product of programs, but rather a product of community.

A proposal that will not satisfy, but might begin a remedy:
 
As the DFMS gets better at its work the percentage of the total budget for operations and support of institutional life ought to fall and the total for domestic and foreign mission ought to rise. And the whole, given the bend toward greater mission, ought to rise as well.

The proposed 2016-2018 budget for The Episcopal Church predicts income of some 73,865,000 from Dioceses and $45,646,000 from other sources (investments, rentals, etc). On the expenses side, abut 70,000,000 is designated for mission and 49,000,000 for governance and administration. Remember, these figures are for a three year period.

Could we challenge the budget to reflect the following: that all contributions from dioceses go to mission funding (domestic and foreign mission) and that governance and administration be completely paid for by "other incomes"?

This would immediately push roughly $4,000,000 (total for the three years) into the mission designation.  

Then, if we also made great efforts (Task Force on Re-imaging TEC) to cut back on Governance and Administration costs, we might actually put some new funds into mission.

And, (hope springs eternal) if we could show the dioceses that all the funds they contribute go directly to domestic and foreign mission activity, might that not encourage dioceses to contribute, rather than not?

The end result might be a General Convention budget that reflects a bending towards mission engagement.

Returning to Margaret, priest and voice.

Margaret writes from the fields of the Lord... you know, the place where people live and die with broken promises and yet so often with full hearts. It is not a place primarily of program and disposable income. Everything is immediate and precious, even in its pain. Her meditations are  powerful voice for rethinking the way the Church uses its resources, and more importantly how the Church encourages those who are present, there, here, and everwhere. Or not.