Episcopal Church proposed 2013-2015 budget released

The draft proposed 2013-2015 budget adopted by Executive Council in January has now been posted on the General Convention website.

Here is the link
to the draft proposed budget.

Here is the link to the narrative.


That narrative says that council has proposed a budget that “responds to the changes facing us by funding the development of new kinds of resources for congregations, dioceses and provinces. These resources enable us to increase capacity, foster relationships, generate leadership, and imagine a new way of being the church together.”

The council also said that it heard from Episcopalians “that the church is participating in new ways of being church and should support new ways of doing ministry on a church-wide level. These new ways include changes in the role of church-wide staff, provinces and the emerging voices of other kinds of networks.”

Thus, the council said, “funding is reduced for mission that we were told was best done on a local level.”

At the same time, the budget includes three new line items that the council said in its narrative will fund “new work that we believe must be coordinated church-wide.” One designates money for a churchwide consultation on “the significant structural change we believe must be our faithful response to our changing context,” council said. The other two new line items call for an “Episcopal Co-op” to create church-wide arrangements for contracting certain administrative services and purchases, and a covenant with the Episcopal Service Corps to develop its ability to develop and plant new programs as a sustainable organization that empowers local ministry with a church-wide focus.

The council noted that it had provided “significant investment in the ministry of Communications, including the Episcopal News Service, as a primary resource for evangelism and to ensure Episcopalians everywhere have the information they need to create the networks necessary to do the work of mission. ”

Comments (13)

Two questions:
1) How does this grow the church?
2) How does this help people in the church grow in faith?

To be honest, I can't figure out the answer to either.

This continues to be a staff heavy budget, especially in the PB and Corporate area.
That the most recent product of the Digital Commumications Office, an App that features expensively made HD video films with no expressed connect to TEC or it's ministries, is hardly an endorsement for the $8.7 million or so dollars being allocated there.

If the Communications office can't get it's message out to our own church, why would we think they can get a message out to the wider world? The Wayfarer App is not confidence building.

ENS and Episcopal Life Online do. Good job, but not consummate with what they have in their budget.

I am very disappointed in this budget. The increases in staffing at the Church Center and political lobbying efforts coupled with the essential gutting of faith formation in the budget is distressing. Sadly, the Episcopal Church's budget priorities seem determined to make it look like a pious NGO, not a church whose main purpose is to worship God and proclaim the Gospel to all.

Tom Ferguson's thoughts on the budget are especially apt and thorough. You can read them here: http://crustyoldean.blogspot.com/2012/03/hollow-church.html

If you disagree with these budget priorities, I suggest you get in touch with your General Convention deputation and ask for a transparent re-assessment of the budget.

Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

I'm flabbergasted, not just by the de-funding of basic programs like youth and young adults, but by the zeroing out of funding for GOE's. How can assessment of ordinands be done more effectively and efficiently on the diocesan level when many dioceses might have no more than one or two candidates?

I'm beginning to wonder whether this whole budget is a direct in-our-face attack on everyone who is talking about or advocating restructuring.

Tom Ferguson's piece is a must-read, by the way.

My own comments are here: http://bit.ly/ztFLWq

Part of the conversation about how to do more with less (and it's important to note how much less!) has been to rely on networking of local ministries, and not on national offices. We can argue about priorities; but we need to argue that one out first. If we intend to rely on networks, we might need fewer folks in the Episcopal Church Center structure (folks who no longer work only in New York); or we might need the for different functions, with different skills.

I will admit to real ambivalence about relying on networks rather than program at the Church-wide level. I've been President of a national professional organization functioning within the Episcopal Church, but not a program of it. We've done everything relying on volunteers. However, "everything" has been primarily some communication and one annual meeting each year. Our members were (and are) doing a good deal of ministry, each in their own locations. However, there hasn't been much opportunity to do more than share news, because we're too scattered and too busy to address things of national scope. We have all these new tools for communicating and networking, and perhaps more will be possible. Still, I'm ambivalent. So, it seems to me that the first priority to be debated is the extent to which subsidiarity, relying more and more on local ministries communicating what they're doing rather than on national leadership, is going to accomplish what we want to accomplish.

Marshall Scott

This may be answering needs for the hierarchy, but will not grow us in faith. The wayfarer app is awful. Why aren't we looking at proven models in other faiths of doing the mission we are called to. This budget seems to be answering the question of what can we do to be more important. I am also concerned that the ministry style in some dioceses will continue to erode ministry in certain geographical areas.,and ministry areas.

How can we expect the church to be relevant let alone grow and thrive if we cut all national funds to support Christian formation and vocation? As a young adult in my final year at seminary, I have personally benefitted from national conferences that encouraged me to consider a priestly vocation during my undergrad. If we want the church to be around for future generations we need to provide formation for all.

The Rev. Lauren Lenoski

I am not advocating for cutting the Christian formation budget, but I do wonder whether there isn't a conversation to be had about whether have formation staff at 815 is the best way to enhance our formation efforts. There is a good conversation waiting to be had about what things are best done on a church wide level, and what things are best done by networks, think tanks, etc., that find their way into our systems at the diocesan and congregational level.

Again, I am not expressing an opinion on the formation line in the budget, just saying that we need to get clear on what things are best supported through the General Convention budget and what things are best supported in other ways.

I think that is a valid point. But as I understand it, if money is not in the GC budget, then a particular item is not funded for use by the national church. Could not the formation budget exist not for creating a centralized Church Center office but for ensuring that networks are funded, grants are made possible, best practices and resources, etc are identified? I would hope budgets would exist for the whole church that would not be monopolized by a centralized office but dispersed for the use of the whole church.

I would hope we could have a discussion about a new vision of the purpose of the GC budget.

Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

We may be on roughly the same page, Dan. I think the issue with this particular budget is that the budget makers aren't in a position either to invest in a centralized staffing that may be unwanted in the longrun, or to get the convention before it convenes, to endorse a plan for the creation of decentralized networks.

This is a problem throughout this document. You can't really create a budget for a brave new world until that world has been created, and it isn't up to the budget makers to do that. It's up to General Convention and the people of the church.

That said, there are part of the budget that even as an interim or transitional document seem problematic to me, but more on that another time.

I'm definitely all for a wiser and more effective use of resources, esp. with finding the best level at which ministries take place. A lot of the formation-related ones might not necessarily be best handled at a central level while others do need to be, esp. ones that can provide resources for local ministries or that allow ways to bring people together across the whole church. A networked approach is one that should be actively explored, but every IT person I know will tell you that an effective network needs constant maintenance. My biggest concern, however, with the de-funding is that dioceses and parishes can't make up the difference right now; so where's the money supposed to come from to enable an effective ministry strategy?

Kevin, I think you ask an excellent question. It would seem to me that if money is being subtracted from certain ministries in the churchwide budget, we ought to be able to make money available for those activities on the diocesan level by reducing the asking on dioceses. However, my sense (and it is only a sense, I can't point to hard supporting information) that leaders at church center have been reluctant to do that because, in the absence of existing formation networks, conferences, etc. it isn't clear that the money one would want devoted to formation would actually be spent on formation. I could be wrong about that. I do know that the PB and the chief operating officer opposed reducing the asking at the last executive council meeting.

In general it seems to me that the question might be: are we better off just reducing the asking and letting the chips fall where they may, or keeping the asking where it is and trying to manage a transition to a different way of performing certain essential functions--and then, perhaps, reducing the asking once that system is in place.

A little more to chew on--some of the dioceses with the largest budgets--Texas, West Texas, South Carolina--give less than half, and in some instances less than a third of the 19 % asking.

"Could not the formation budget exist not for creating a centralized Church Center office but for ensuring that networks are funded, grants are made possible, best practices and resources, etc are identified? I would hope budgets would exist for the whole church that would not be monopolized by a centralized office but dispersed for the use of the whole church."

I'm with Dan on this. This is what I advocated for in the survey that went out last fall.

It pains me to say this but over the past two weeks - because of my varied work as a diocesan staffer - I've posed questions to church center staff members in four different departments and have yet to receive a reply from one of them. Not even a 'Yup. Got it. Working it."

That's not to say there aren't staff members who are are very responsive. There are and I'm grateful for their support.

I just agree that using the financial resources we share as a whole church for supporting relationships and sharing of information and best practices among provinces, dioceses, and churches that share mutual interests and ministry passions might offer a bigger bang in a world of diminishing bucks.

Heidi Shott

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