Yesterday, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council approved an amended draft budget that increases funding for evangelism and new-church starts compared to its first draft.
There was considerable pushback on that budget drafts reduction of funding for church growth efforts. Among the voices who made themselves heard was Scott Gunn, director of Forward Movement who wrote about the issue on his personal blog;
“Did you catch that? Through the church, the wisdom of God in its rich variety is to be made known to rulers, authorities, and, presumably, all people.
Are we doing that very well? I don’t think so, and if I’m talking more specifically about the Episcopal Church, the answer must surely be a resounding no. The draft churchwide budget for the Episcopal Church contains a staggering 41% cut to evangelism. I want to pause right there.
In 2015, at our General Convention, in a groundswell that many felt was Spirit-led, we elected a Presiding Bishop who wanted to be known as a Chief Evangelism Officer. We passed resolutions that led to a churchwide evangelism conference (and another one is on the way, register now!), the first one in recent memory. We amended the budget from the legislative floor to invest more money in evangelism. The Spirit was surely doing something in our church.”
(Editor’s Note: we added the link about the groundswell)
The council had also invited feedback from the whole church through an online survey. Results of that haven’t been released, but many people across the church who are advocates for evangelism, encouraged others, through social media, to participate. It seems likely that feedback was largely negative based on comments from Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies;
The draft budget increases the money allocated for evangelism over that which was included in the most recent iteration because, in the words of House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, council heard a “clarion call” from the church to do so. Evangelism is one of the three priorities General Convention set for the church at its last meeting in 2015. The final version of council’s draft budget also includes increases in the other two priorities of racial justice and reconciliation, and creation care. From ENS
Susan Brown Snook, member of Executive council and one of those voices calling for restoration of funding for evangelism was pleased with the result, posting on her Facebook page that she was “so grateful to my colleagues on Executive Council and the Finances for Mission committee, who just approved a draft budget with good funding for our church’s mission priorities, including evangelism, church planting and congregational redevelopment.”
This draft presents a $133.7 million spending plan. The budget is essentially balanced, with a small surplus of $2,654 and is an increase over the previous triennium of $8.7 million (~7%).
In a news conference follow the Council meeting; Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said that this draft “reflects a community coming together, doing the hard work, seeking to keep Christ at the center.”
image: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry thanks Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission members for their “hard and faithful work, and careful listening” during the committee’s preparation of council’s 2019-2021 draft budget. Photo: Shannon Ferguson Kelly