The Episcopal Church Center staff issued a 27-page draft report on world mission June 26 in response to two questions posed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:
• What is the primary motivation for global mission?
• How do we practice global mission strategically in the 21st century?
The draft report includes a brief history of Episcopal global mission, estimated 2008 international mission expenditure figures ($22.9 million), the 2009 projected budget for international mission and geographic breakdowns of where the money is spent.
[The presiding bishop] offered some historical perspective: in 1950, 40 percent of the DFMS funding went toward international mission. In 1995 it was 25 percent and today it is 16 percent.
"Today the Anglican Communion Office gets a much bigger chunk …" Jefferts Schori said.
Related is another ENS article, Convention to consider increased funding, name change for missionaries:General Convention will be asked to increase funding and to switch to the term "mission partner" instead of "missionary" to help to reinvigorate this work and define more accurately its emphasis on relationship building and interdependence.A limited budget confronted with increases in costs of mandated health insurance and pension contributions has resulted in the unintended consequence of the hiatus. (Similar consequences would confront proposals for mandated benefits for lay employees being brought before General Convention.)
More than 70 Episcopal missionaries serve in congregations and dioceses throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America. They usually are placed for three years and play a variety of roles, often in education, health care and local support for orphans and immigrants.
The mission personnel budget -- which provides missionaries with a $500 monthly stipend and covers airfare, visa, pension-contribution and health-insurance costs -- has taken a hit in recent months. This led to a temporary hiatus in deploying new adult missionaries in 2009, a situation the Standing Commission on World Mission hopes General Convention will address.
"The rising cost of mission support and the decreases in the General Convention budget call for a fresh look at the mission-funding process," the standing commission says in its report to convention, which proposes increasing the budget to support missionaries by $1 million during the next triennium.