Early reaction to PB's budget proposal

"Crusty Old Dean" Tom Ferguson says the presiding bishop's budget proposal, released today, "stands the old budget on its head, and redefines it in terms of the marks of mission. This is something COD has been arguing for all along: if we really, truly are going to shape our budget around these understandings of the marks of mission, then let’s actually do it. T

his gives a sense of coherence to this budget, sorely lacking in the previous version." Of course that's not all he has to say. Read more here.

The Rev. Susan Brown Snook says "there are some terrific new proposals here. Just one example: $2 million in grant funding for new church planting. Friends, we have been needing to do this for years." Read more.

And the Rev. Scott Gunn writes:

I haven’t had a chance to scrutinize every line, but this one looks like something I can get excited about.

* It massively increases mission funding.
* It provides money to (*gasp*) plant churches.
* It increases our investment with our overseas partners.
* It increases funding for work (advocacy and service) to alleviate domestic poverty.
* The Five Marks of Mission now compose over 60% of the budget.
* Oh, and it cuts 13ish positions from the Church Center staff, with only one department seeing an increase: the office of the President of the House of Deputies.


Read his blog post here.

Comments (4)

Overall, the PB's budget proposal looks great and is a solid start. I hope it is considered on its merits, and not on political or other issues.

Further, the budget is a mark of true leadership. It is high time someone grabbed the bull by the horns and addressed a horribly broken budget process.

A few additional thoughts, in no particular order:

- It is good that we are not balancing the budget on the backs of staff salaries. Still, the fact that this is a triennial budget and we may be moving into a period of inflation suggests we should budget more than a 2 percent increase for staff.

- There are opportunities to take some of the PB's allocations and go further. For example, GC expenses are still very high in a day and age of Web conferencing. I suggest we give careful consideration to a virtual meeting for GC. Doing so would reduce expense and travel and be a greener solution.

- It is heartening that the PB is open to discussion about 815. The problem with the current facility is not just fiscal; it's about the message it sends to the world, which is not a good message at all.

- The PB appears to have done a good job of opening the door to a consensus-based discussion that could engender meaningful change. We should do all we can to encourage others to act on it in good faith.

- Staff should be incented to develop cost reduction proposals. My experience is that no one has a better handle on ways to save money than staff, and we should ensure that staff is empowered to bring forth suggestions without fear of stepping on landmines.

The PB's proposal is very exciting news and one of the best things I have seen in a long time.

Eric Bonetti

I have this picture of PB Katherine sitting down behind closed doors with her friend (played by Charles Grodin), a public service accountant, hammering out the budget, just like in the movie Dave.

Tim Sean Youmans
Shawnee, OK

I disagree with Scott and Eric. There are good features to this budget, but there are two or three major flaws:

1) It throws money at popular topics and places the development of plans for that in the hands of folks who continue not to understand that we need a smaller central footprint. While 13 positions are cut the overall staff costs are raised by $500 k on line 381 and we have No sense of how these blocks of money will be spent between central and local.

2) It balances itself by promising to make 5% cuts and leaves that to EC or management. 5% cuts are offset in my estimation by 2% annual staff raises and 8% health plan raises.

3) There has been no detail in either budget on what the staff positions are or why they are important to keep. I'd especially like to see that for the $6+ million being spent on communications. I am not seeing the bang we get for those bucks.

I am glad to see the PB (with Mr. Grodin) produce at least a competent and balanced document. But the vacant spaces for some future group to decide is just not good.

Hi Scott. Thanks very much for your comments.

I'd add only that budgets at this stage are not typically the sort of thing where one provides extensive detail; there is a great deal of discussion and socialization that needs to occur before the details are fleshed out, nor should an executive-level individual determine specific allocations within departments.

I therefor would not criticize this budget because it does not break out the components of individual line items--but I believe that the issues you raise are worth further exploration and consideration.

Eric Bonetti

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