7/04/2009

A Missionary Stimulus Relief Package

The Episcopal Church has announced the possibility that there will be a 9 Million Dollar shortfall in expected revenues for the Triennial budget (2010-2012) for The Episcopal Church. Reports on this can be found HERE and HERE.

Pan Adams-McCaslin, chairwoman of The Joint Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, is quoted by The Living Church as saying, “We are going in as educated as possible about the draft budget that was approved by Executive Council, as educated as possible about the proposed resolutions with funding implications—both revenue-specific and those with funding implied—in order that PB&F can listen to the convention and the Holy Spirit so that the mission of the church is fulfilled and not political agendas.” That's a tall order, but it can be done.

A Proposal: It is time to mount a campaign for a "Missionary Stimulus Relief Package: $21 Million for the Triennium."

Background: Implications of the deficit if it were to go forward:

The annual budget projections for the three years of the Triennium are currently listed as:
$53,619,754; $52,995,246; $55,205,613 for a total of $161,820,613. (p. 11, Draft Budget) Now a reduction of 3 million a year would make these figures roughly 50, 49 and 52 million dollars. The reductions would be roughly 6%. Using a scarcity model, in which we work from the existing budget income and expenditures, we could and very well might work at belt-tightening and reduction in services. Six percent seems manageable. The problem with this is twofold:

(i) There are non-reducible expenses for the canonically required offices of the Presiding Bishop, the General Convention. This means that the 6% shortfall, if it happens, will be disproportionally relegated to the program and mission budgets. This means the shortfall in program and mission may be as high as 10-12 percent. This ends up pitting worthwhile and arguably necessary new initiatives in mission against one another. This model of scarcity planning leads to program depletion rather than strategic thinking.

(ii) The decrease in available monies in the US due to reduced returns on investments, hold backs by dioceses due to prudent allocation of resources, and reduction in funding from unhappy, anxious or confused donors, as well as general disease about the program of the Episcopal Church as expressed in the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) budget. At a time when the DFMS could be challenging the church to greater giving because of greater missionary need, the budget planning appears to be one guided by staff concerns to "balance" the various existing efforts in a model that involves internal struggle. For example the staff was asked to envision a 50 percent reduction in funding and imagine how they might respond. This thinking may be prudent, but it is not strategic.

The projected deficit will lead to funding decisions based on a model of scarcity. That model is inadequate to the economic, social and religious demands of the times.

Missionary Stimulus Relief

This is exactly the time to ask the General Convention to direct the assignment of $21 million from the abundance of invested funds, as well as interest from those funds, for a Missionary Stimulus Relief Package.

Does such an abundance exist? Yes. In the current budget $28,928,713 is being drawn from investment income. That represents a 5.5% distribution from investments, where the assumed gross annual growth is placed at 8%. As I understand it the fiduciary model is to use less than the projected income from investments thereby increasing the endowment. the proposal of an additional $21 million from investments increases the expenditures from investments to a point where it will impact the body of invested monies. The total drawn from invested income would approach $50 million over three years, or about $16 million per year, up from roughly $9.7 million per year. Assuming an 8% annual growth this would mean some incursion into invested monies that include accumulated investments from the past.

But that accumulation represents an abundance, not a scarcity. It was meant to be used as needed for the ministry and mission of the Church. And, in time of great need it seems prudent to draw on this capital.

The Missionary Stimulus Package:

The purpose of this relief package is four fold: (numbers are for a three year period)

(i) To complete the funding of the budget proposed by Program, Budget and Finance to the General Convention, recognizing that the final form of that budget may include some reductions and some additions to the draft budget distributed to Bishops and Deputies ($9 million) ;

(ii) To expand the allocation of funds to diocese in stress, dioceses of The Episcopal Church receiving assistance, and in particular those overseas dioceses whose local currencies suffer disproportionately from the economic stresses in the world recession ($4 million),

(iii) To extend to those Provinces in which we are in covenant relationships additional financial relief so that they may maintain their ministries in uncertain economic times, ($3 million) and

(iv) to fund new mission initiatives on a diocesan and national level the purpose of which is related to parish and diocesan revitalization and growth ($5 million).

The Challenge:

The Episcopal Church is challenged on many fronts. If we simply accept the shortfall of $9 million as indicative of the need to reduce ministry, services, support and expansion activities, we will have wasted a perfectly good challenge to our common life. This is not the time to exercise great caution or to be fearful. This is a time to be forthright and clear that we are willing to support our churches in need, fund the programs that support diocesan and local ministry and are ready to expand support for new opportunities in mission.

It is time to engaged in missionary expansion and aid to those churches in need. Now.

10 comments:

  1. Why exactly are the expenses of the PB and GenCon nonreducible? Surely, there is some fat in every organization and office that can be trimmed. Otherwise, I'm with you on increasing mission work.

    priest in LA

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  2. Cut contributions to anti-TEC programs ACC comes immediately to mind to zero. Then re-evaluate the budget and use what we have appropriately. A simple two step program...

    FWIW
    jimB

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  3. I agree with jimB. Let's let cut out all such funding as a shot across Williams' bow if he asks lesbians/gays to "sacrifice" for "unity."

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  4. Perhaps General Convention can meet every 4 or 5 years instead of 3? It's an awfully expensive proposition for the church, not to mention for the dioceses, organizations and the deputies that attend.

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  5. I think cutting off funding from ACC (the only "Instrument of Communion" with laypeople, btw) would be a big mistake. Do we want to engage the other Anglican churches as a model (albeit imperfect one) of ministry for full equality, or do we want to shut ourselves off from any sort of contamination from those "homophobes" out there?

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  6. I have no desire to cut any funding to international outreach and pastoral ministries, but I agree with others in this thread. Why should we bankroll those who are out to destroy our church?
    Let ++Williams and the scolding foreign bishops stand in that "crucified place" themselves.

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  7. Kevin,

    Something is gonna get cut -- there is no money. If the choice is a first class air ticket to another primate's meeting and more salary for ABC staff in London on the one hand and Episcopal Relief on the other, that choice should be pretty clear.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  8. priest in la:

    There have been discussions about how to cut expenses for General Convention for years. The one that would have the most immediate effect, and that is offered regularly, would be to reduce deputations from four in each order to three in each order. That would cut the House participation (deputies and alternates) from perhaps 1600 to perhaps 1200. I haven't seen it proposed this Convention (but then I haven't been looking for that in the legislation), but that doesn't mean it won't be.

    There has been kicked around the idea of taking over a college campus, some of which are available in August. That would save some, at the cost of significant services and convenience (and some conveniences, such as proximity to a major airport or sufficient resources of electronic media, are important).

    I don't know what other ideas might be introduced; but folks do know how much they're spending.

    (The security word is "later;" so I guess I'll be back.)

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  9. Jim,
    My point in asking the question was so that we could see exactly what our motivations are in all of this. If you're going to cut something, it might be a good idea to find out exactly what that money goes toward and how much money is actually allocated for that. What would be the impact of such a cut? Would it actually be a necessary cost-saving measure, or would it simply be our thumbing our noses at the the other Anglican churches around the world, including our friends?

    Kevin

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  10. A "reduction in funding from unhappy, anxious or confused donors, as well as general disease about the program of the Episcopal Church as expressed in the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) budget"? Will General Convention, then, ever get around to addressing the elephant in the room and work toward reducing the level of conflict within the church? Or will it leave the elephant free to do more damage? So far, from what I've seen and read, I'm guessing that the latter will be the case, not the former.

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