Breaking: Executive Council receives dueling budget proposals

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Updated with Episcopal News Service story.

Executive Council has received two different budget proposals from its Executive Committee.


One sets the diocesan asking at the current level of 19 percent, and requires cuts of almost $6 million from the $140 million 2010-2012 budget adopted by the General Convention. The other lowers the diocesan asking to 15 percent and requires cuts of almost $21 million from the current budget.

Bishop Jefferts Schori favors the 19 percent asking. President Anderson favors the 15 percent asking. In her opening remarks to the council, Anderson said:

“Let’s reduce the amount that we ask dioceses to send to the Church Center. Let’s study the best use of the building at 815 Second Avenue with an eye to freeing up for mission the $7.7 million dollars that is earmarked for facilities cost and debt repayment during the next triennium. Let’s expect that dioceses and their networks know best how to build up God’s church and support ministry where it is most effective. And as we change the budget, let’s acknowledge that we also need to change our models of accountability and responsibility to be mutual and respectful of the entire people of God, not just those with ecclesial power.”

In his opening remarks, Chief Operating Office Bishop Stacy Sauls said:

“This meeting, as you might imagine, is the source of no small amount of anxiety for the staff as we consider the budget. … Managers and team leaders are engaged in conversations about how to take whatever budget comes from General Convention and dream, create, adapt, and act. But I do ask you to be sensitive to their legitimate needs in this time.”

He also asked for “a serious discussion of far-reaching structural reform leaving nothing off the table and no question unasked.”

The text of Bishop Jefferts Schori’s remarks is not yet available. She often does not speak from a text.

The members of the Executive Committee are Jefferts Schori, Anderson, Sauls (non-voting), Secretary of General Convention Gregory Straub, Treasurer Kurt Barnes, Rosalie Ballentine, Brian Cole, Del Glover, Gay Jennings, Bryan Krislock, and Winnie Varghese.

Anderson emailed a description of the budgeting process yesterday to deputies and first alternates. To read it, click Read more.

The Process for the Development and Consideration of The Budget for the Episcopal Church:

The Executive Council develops a DRAFT Budget for the Episcopal Church for approval in January of the year of General Convention. The DRAFT Budget for the Episcopal Church is based upon priorities developed by Exeuctive Council. The DRAFT Budget for the Epsicopal Church is sent to all deputies and bishops for their study prior to the General Convention and is reviewed in detail at the pre-General Convention Provincial Synod meetings. Once the DRAFT Budget is handed off to General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, (no later than 4 months prior to General Convention) the “official” role of Executive Council, with regards to the DRAFT Budget is finished.

The membership of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) is composed of two deputies from each of the 9 provinces. The Deputies are appointed by the President of the House of Deputies. One bishop from each province is appointed by the Presiding Bishop. The PHOD and the PB are members, ex officiis, with seat voice and vote. The Secretary and Treasurer of The General Convention and the Treasurer of the Executive Council are members, ex officiis, with seat and voice, but without vote. Between conventions, PB&F acts in an advisory capacity to the Officers of the General Convention and to the Executive Council in applying balanced budget policies.

At General Convention, PB&F recommends a funding (asking from dioceses) formula and spending for the succeeding triennium and presents the budget resolution to the General Convention. At Convention, PB&F meets as a committee of the whole and in sections. Two of the sections correspond to the sections of the budget: Mission (Program) Section and Corporate/Canonical Section. The two other sections include the Funding Section, whose charge it is to determine the funding formula that PB&F will propose in resolution form to the General Convention, and the Presentation Section, whose members work on the physical (written/visual) presentation of the budget. PB&F considers concurred legislation with funding implications, considers testimony from three open hearings (spending, funding and priorities). PB&Fwill present a proposed Budget for the Episcopal Church in a Joint Session of the HOD and the HOB on July 10, 2012. The two Houses will debate and vote on the proposed Budget for the Episcopal Church in separate Houses on July 11. The Budget must pass both Houses in exactly the same language and format in order to be concurred.

The budget is offered in Spanish and English.

President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson prepared this budget development process summary. She was Chair of the Joint Standing Committee of Program, Budget and Finance for 9 years.

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George Clifford
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George Clifford

Form should follow function. The debate’s focus on who is the best steward, dioceses or the national church, disturbs me. That sounds like an echo of current political debates. What is God calling the Church – locally, in dioceses, nationally, and globally – to do? Let’s fund those priorities; I’m confident that at whatever level money is spent, most of us seek to be faithful stewards.

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Guest

Bishop Epting, just to pick one potential cost-savings area that's been mentioned: as someone who worked at 815 until fairly recently, what do you think are the budgetary options for that facility? Is there, for example, a way to still have a Church Center that's fractionally less reliant upon brick and mortar?

Torey Lightcap

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Benjamin Bynum
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Benjamin Bynum

I agree with the idea that multiple proposals are important--especially the one with the reduced diocesan asking as we are encouraged by our Presiding Bishop and our CEO to look at how we can re-imagine the structure of the church and prioritize mission. This process already looks better than it did in 2009--from my perspective, of course.

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tgflux
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tgflux

"Executive Council receives dueling budget proposals"

Pistols at dawn? O_o

Well, not remotely qualified to evaluate these, but generally speaking, I think alternative proposals are a good thing. More dialogue, more consensus.

JC Fisher

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Chris Epting
Guest

Seems like it might be helpful actually to have a conversation about what we want the Church Center, and churchwide structures, to accomplish before we cut the legs off them to save money. Form, it seems to me, follows function.

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Jeffri Harre
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Jeffri Harre

Good of Stacy Sauls to acknowledge staff anxiety. After what happened at General Convention 2009 and following, someone needs to be thinking about that.

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