8/29/2011

Working towards a budget for church-wide concerns in the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal News Service has noted a new survey by the Executive Committee of Executive Council put together as part of the process for developing a three year budget to be presented to the 2012 General Convention. The article is HERE. The survey is HERE.

The survey is a good beginning. It asks to assign or reassign the various program concerns of The Episcopal Church church-wide efforts to "church-wide", diocesan and network or parish levels, or to drop them completely.  What it doesn't do is the following: (i) address the reality that about 38% of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the budget for The Episcopal Church on a church-wide level) is spent on canonical and corporate functions, not program, (ii)  that The Episcopal Church has debt payments that now must be honored, thereby raising questions of continuing to own property in New York City, etc, (iii) that dioceses in The Episcopal Church vary greatly in size and some are unsustainable, and that (iv) empowerment of networks has never been adequately encouraged by General Convention.

I encourage you to take the survey. More, I encourage you to let Executive Council members (me included) know what you think might be helpful in preparing this budget. General crabby statements, such as, "I think The Episcopal Church is the work of the devil and not one dime ought to go to it" are not helpful.  This is not an opportunity to dump on the work and ministry of The Episcopal Church through its various offices.  Rather it is a moment for us to draw out the best ideas for new ways of thinking of the church-wide efforts that General Convention believes are important to our common life.  I hope Preludium readers will join in the conversation.



9 comments:

  1. A very honest, useful second paragraph.

    1. Which dioceses are unsustainable? and more importantly
    2. which ones know and accept that?
    3. and, believe that something must be done and have suggestions about that?

    Equally, do the 'powers that be' accept that a move from NYC is now required, as you intimate?

    Are we talking about 30% of all dioceses needing to merge or come to some other kind of resolution? or is it on the order of 50%.

    It seems a sign of honesty that Fr Harris is laying this out so clearly. TEC is going to have to become something different -- it's not solvent nor sustainable as it.

    Franklin

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  2. 'canonical and corporate functions' -- does this 38% include legal (lawsuit) costs?

    If so, what percentage of it?

    Are you implying the figure is too high and something should change on this front?

    Franklin

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  3. Actually, Franklin, it is solvent now. Sustainable? For the immediate future, yes. For the long term, not without change.

    As for dioceses needing to merge etc, I think something more like 30%. More than merging is the possibility of looking again at just what a diocese is for and thinking creatively about how some of the systems dioceses now handle could be dealt with otherwise, leaving dioceses free to be missionary in character. See my next post.

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  4. Thanks.

    Isn't it amazing? Perhaps the drive to centralize power in a 'national church' (lawsuits; PB as Title IV 'metropolitan'; SCLM rites from the top down) will be halted by the sheer financial unfeasibility of the undertaking/s.

    It bears remembering that when the Episcopal Church had a PB who did only that (preside) it was numerically stronger than what now obtains. So the imaginings of 'horizontal' relationships sounds to my ear precisely like the way PECUSA existed for the bulk of its existence. The PECUSA of my early years.

    Franklin

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  5. 30% of dioceses are not sustainable unless changes are made. That is a significant number and admission. Thank you for it.

    Of the 38% figure -- is this lawsuit money?

    Thank you for your information from 'the bowels of Episcopal-land.'

    I happily filled out the survey. Let's return to a non-national-church TEC as was true for the vast percentage of its history. Hard to believe TEC was once twice its present size. It could again be a major reformed catholic presence inside NA, but only with massive overhaul.

    Franklin

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  6. Franklin, whoever you are, you are using up your time.
    You are wrong in assuming the "centralized power in a national church" consists of the listing you give. The Presiding Bishop has been the President of Executive Council (or the National Council before it) and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society for a very long time. PECUSA, which is The Episcopal Church, has had a corporate model for about 100 years now. The move out of that model (if it happens) to something else is not a move back to pre- National Council but a move forward to something else.

    Are you a member of The Episcopal Church now?

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  7. Franklin, my guess of 30% is just a guess. The 38% you are talking about is the portion of the last General Convention budget assigned for both the corporate and canonical requirements of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society - including such things as having an annual audit, a treasurer and office, the office of the Presiding Bishop, a bishop for Federal ministries, a General Convention office, and on and on. The 38% covers all sorts of things, including (as I understand it) some of the expenses for supporting the legal cases of the four dioceses whose bishops, many clergy and many laypeople left.

    Now, I will say it one more time, "General crabby statements, such as, "I think The Episcopal Church is the work of the devil and not one dime ought to go to it" are not helpful. This is not an opportunity to dump on the work and ministry of The Episcopal Church through its various offices. Rather it is a moment for us to draw out the best ideas for new ways of thinking of the church-wide efforts that General Convention believes are important to our common life."

    Your harping on the former and current size of TEC and your misreading of its history ("non-national-church etc) is pretty close to crabby outburst.

    So here is the deal. If you have a positive suggestion about specific possibilities of doing what General Convention asks the Executive Council and the staff to do in a new and vital way, fine. If not, please move on.

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  8. You surely aren't claiming that the TEC of 1960 is the TEC of Title IV, Metropolitical insignia, hierarchical legal claims, and so forth.

    That is factually wrong.

    You want to see a sustainable and solvent TEC and are seeking input? Return TEC to its identity as a voluntary association of dioceses. It will save money and do mission better.

    Franklin

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  9. BTW, why can't the PB remain a diocesan Bishop, as was true for the majority of TEC's history? The move toward CEO type business models by american denominations has been well researched. Now is an excellent time to undo the aping of businesses.

    TEC's model is pretty anamolous actually. In the Scottish Episcopal Church the Primus is a Diocesan, and there is no metropolitical envy.

    If the 38% figure entails a big $ amount for a PB and staff, devolve that back to the diocese, as was the case in the early 20th century and previously. Give up the jurisdictional oddity of Europe as the PB's 'diocese' and return the PB to a real diocese. Let the senior Bishop function as PB, and let it rotate. That is a good collegial model. It worked well in TEC and it works well in other provinces. It will save money, now a pressing concern.

    Franklin

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