From Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (more here):
By now you have probably heard that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has sent a draft budget to General Convention that eliminates the 0.7% line item for the Millennium Development Goals.
Be not afraid. Be very excited.
Why? Because this has provided us a moment of great opportunity -- an opportunity to give everyone a vision for prophetic and inspirational living out of our Christian call through our budgets. This is an opportunity for us to take a joyful and exciting leap of faith in a time of fear. We need to approach it as that. Read on, and we'll show you how.
In terms of General Convention, here is how things work:
The draft budget from Executive Council (which is what is missing the 0.7% line item for the MDGs) is forwarded to the Program, Budget and Finance Committee of General Convention. They hold three sets of hearings at Convention. In order, they are:
1) For any bishop or deputy to testify as to what they think the mission priorities are that should guide the formation of this budget.
2) For any bishop or deputy to testify on behalf of specific expense requests they would like to see in the budget
3) For any bishop or deputy to testify on thoughts on the income side of the budget.
PB&F then takes all this data, discerns the mission priorities and then forms a budget based on them and the other testimony and their own deliberations.
The hearings is where the conversation and conversion happened in 2006 and it's where it will happen in 2009. Your job is to get people to those hearings EARLY to testify with power. We did this VERY effectively last time and it's part of why the budget was so MDG-heavy. We just need to do it again.
Here's what we need everyone to do between now and Convention:
Get together with your bishop and deputies and
-impress upon them how critical it is that the budget reflect our ongoing commitment to the MDGs
-tell them that a separate 0.7% line item is necessary
-tell them that this is an opportunity for us to provide prophetic leadership for people who are having the same conversations around their vestry and dinner tables -- "Times are tough, should we cut our giving?" This is a chance for us to say joyfully: "No! This is the time to give more and trust that God will provide if we follow God's call!"
-tell them stories of how work with the MDGs has empowered ministry, built relationship and gotten people excited about being the church in your diocese -- how the Spirit is moving and how we can't turn back.
-tell them that when they get to General Convention they need to:
-plan on testifying at ALL THREE PB&F hearings(the income side is where we really hit the message of trusting God) and setting a vision for the church -- the success of the MDG Inspiration Fund (leveraging $1 million into $3 million) shows God doesn't let us down!
-keep their eyes open for when the signup sheets are posted for testifying at hearings (usually 30 minutes to an hour before the hearing) and getting there as soon as the lists are open so they are at the top of the list. Often time runs out and not everyone gets to testify. It's critical to get there early. EGR will be distributing information via. email and text message about when and where to go.
-caucus with other bishops and deputies, share the stories they have heard, build momentum.
This is a chance for the grassroots movement we have built to really take hold and show what God can do through us.
Spread the word. Spread the joy. There's no turning back from what God has begun!