By significant margins in both houses, the General Convention amended the triennial budget for evangelism, church planting, and new kinds of faith communities.
An amendment put forward by the Rev. Frank Louge of Georgia increased the amount devoted to church planting and non-traditional communities to $5.8 million in the 2016-18 budget.
According the Jim Naughton writing for the House of Deputies News , the amendment also includes $750,000 for “digital evangelism” to connect seekers with local churches by identifying them through Google search terms and online formation materials. “The $6.5 million total represents a significant financial commitment to evangelism at a time when most Christian denominations in the United States are losing members,” Naughton writes.
Yesterday morning the Rev. Frank Logue of Georgia went to the microphone in the House of Deputies and moved an amendment he didn’t think had much chance of passing. In effect, he asked the General Convention, on the second-to-last day of its triennial meeting, to add more than $2.8 million to the budget for church planting initiatives, with a special focus on Latino ministries.
Funny thing is, the amendment passed by a 571-257 margin after deputy after deputy spoke in favor of increasing the church’s draw on its endowment by half a percentage point in order to create new faith communities and, as Logue put it “to move out of this convention having provided out newly elected Presiding Bishop [the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry] with the support he needs to assist us in reaching others with the love of Jesus Christ.”
In the afternoon, the House of Bishops passed the church’s budget with Logue’s amendment intact, despite opposition from Bishop Stacy Sauls, the church’s chief operating officer, who spoke against the amendment twice, and pessimistic testimony about its impact on the church’s endowment from Chief Financial Officer Kurt Barnes.
“I’d rather not be part of a church with a growing endowment and declining membership,” said Bishop Douglas Hahn of Lexington.
On his way to a news conference after the budget had passed, Logue said he felt “like a dog who chased a car and caught it.”