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Executive Council: new approach to 2013-15 budget

Executive Council: new approach to 2013-15 budget

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church is preparing the 2013-15 budget for approval at General Convention (GC). Input is being solicited from across the church. Lay and clergy leaders, Deputies to GC, bishops and others are being asked to complete a survey to hear from the church about priorities for the budget. Kudos to the Executive Council for this first step to a more open process.

From Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs:

In preparation for the 77th General Convention in July, 2012, the year-long budget preparation process for funding the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church has begun. The Executive Council is announcing a new approach to solicit input broadly from across the church on what the program section of the draft budget should contain and our funding priorities.

Read it all below:

Episcopal Church Executive Council

draft triennial budget preparation process underway

The Governance of The Episcopal Church: This information is another in an ongoing series discussing the governance of The Episcopal Church. Also, Episcopal Church lingo and terms are used; check the websites listed at the end for any necessary explanations.

[August 25, 2011] In preparation for the 77th General Convention in July, 2012, the year-long budget preparation process for funding the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church has begun. The Executive Council is announcing a new approach to solicit input broadly from across the church on what the program section of the draft budget should contain and our funding priorities.

The triennial or three-year budget, to be adopted by General Convention 2012 (GC12) for the years 2013-2015, will fund the governance, mission and ministry work of the Episcopal Church. The budget for the Episcopal Church serves as the blueprint for the mission and ministry that happen on a churchwide level between meetings of General Convention.

Seeking input

The Executive Council wants to hear the voices of the Church: elected deputies to General Convention 2012 (GC12); bishops; members of commissions, committees, agencies and boards of the Church; diocesan organizations such as diocesan councils, standing committees; and diocesan staff members.

To solicit input, the Executive Council, with assistance from the General Convention Treasurer, the Chief Operating Officer and the Officer for Congregational Research, has created a survey that can be completed online. The survey is directed to: GC12 deputies; bishops; committees, commissions, agencies and boards of the Church; diocesan standing committees; and diocesan councils/boards. The survey is located here.

The data will be used to guide Executive Council in establishing its recommended priorities for mission work and funding allocations. In addition to the survey, a web site has been created that will both provide information on the effort to solicit input and afford members of the Church to provide input to the Executive Council. Changing and challenging financial realities at the churchwide level and for dioceses and congregations demand that a reassessment be done. The website is located here.

Survey deadline is September 7.

How can you be involved?

There are various ways to become involved in the budget preparation process:

– Talk to your deputies to GC12

– Visit the website to provide input and for information.

– E-mail your questions/comments to members of Executive Council.

– Discuss budget priorities in your congregations, diocesan conventions and provincial meetings.

– Complete the leader’s survey.

Preparing the budget

The Executive Committee, a committee of Executive Council, will use the input from its members as well as staff and leaders from throughout the church to form a framework and mission priorities that will be presented to the entire Executive Council at its October meeting in Salt Lake City (Diocese of Utah). Executive Council will then have an opportunity to reflect on the input it received and respond to the proposed framework.

The Executive Committee will prepare a detailed draft budget proposal for the winter meeting of Executive Council (January 2012 in the Diocese of Maryland). At that meeting, Executive Council will review and discuss the proposal with the outcome forming the recommended draft budget that will be presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, commonly known as PB&F.

PB&F is responsible for recommending a final balanced budget for the triennium to the General Convention

The final budget reflects the will of GC12 as concurred action by the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops after extensive open hearings, information gathering meetings, and other information gathered by PB&F.

The budget is presented to GC12 on the 8th legislative day (July 10) in a joint session of both Houses and considered separately in each House on the 9th legislative day (July12).

The budget that will be adopted by GC12 becomes the budget for the Episcopal Church for the next triennium, 2013-2015.

Further info

General Convention is the Episcopal Church’s bicameral governing body, comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 700 members. GC12 refers to General Convention 2012.

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church is an elected body representing the whole Church and is comprised of twenty members elected by General Convention (four bishops, four priests or deacons and twelve laypersons) and eighteen members elected by provincial synods. Also serving on Executive Council are the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, the General Convention Secretary and Treasurer.

The Executive Committee of Executive Council consists of six elected members from Executive Council, the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, General Convention Secretary, and Treasurer.

The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, known as PB&F, is responsible for recommending funding and spending for the succeeding triennium and to propose a balanced budget that reflects the will of General Convention as determined by resolutions, open hearings and information gathered. Its 29 members are the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, together with a bishop, priest or deacon and lay person from each of the church’s nine geographic provinces. The priests, deacons and lay persons must be deputies to the General Convention.

For more information

For more information contact the Rev. Canon Dr. Gregory Straub, Secretary of General Convention,

On the web:

Episcopal Church Executive Council draft triennial budget preparation process underway

For more info contact:

Neva Rae Fox

Public Affairs Officer

The Episcopal Church

212-716-6080 Mobile: 917-478-5659


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tobias haller

Marshall, that fuziness was precisely my point. Most of the “networks” in TEC are in fact national and churchwide — they are between and among dioceses not within them. So there was a distinct disconnect between the two first categories — or rather an overlap. I ended up choosing the “top” category in only one case. Frankly, I think the model of “815” and Executive Council has long past its sell by date. Even the work of international relations and ecumenism need not be “centered” in an office building. Government liaison very likely — but even there networks can function in that capacity.


Like all things, this, too, was open to interpretation. Actually, Tobias, I found myself thinking an exercise in subsidiarity was the point. While the list wasn’t complete, perhaps, at point after point I thought about what could best be done at the diocesan/network or congregational level, and what really required coordination at a national level.

I do think coupling (and therfore suggesting as equivalent) networks with dioceses was interesting, and perhaps confusing. Again, my interpretation was that networks were paired with dioceses to make clear that they didn’t need staff or budget at the national level. At the same time, I think of networks as crossing diocesan boundaries, and so in some sense needing some communication/leadership with a trans-diocesan (multidiocesan?) perspective.

Marshall Scott

Lisa Fox

As a newly elected Deputy to General Convention, I took seriously the e-mail to Deputies when this first seemed to appear.

I heard the call to converse among Deputies and among diocesan leaders. I shot an e-mail to my colleagues.

Then two things happened.

First, I realized the e-mail went to the whole church. Mind you, I think that might be a good thing. But not without providing some tools about the structure of the budget.

Second, I realized that their Sept. 7 deadline allows us in the dioceses almost no time to take counsel together.

It seems to me that this dumbed-down survey is going to yield nothing of use to the Executive Council. Lacking time and opportunity to take counsel with my colleagues in my diocese, I probably won’t respond to the survey at all.

But I bet those with an axe to grind will flock to the survey.

I commend the Executive Council for trying to open the budget process to the wider process. But I fear this is not an effective way to do so.

And all of what I said is in addition to what Ann and Tobias have said about the structural flaws within the survey itself.

It seems to me that this is a flawed effort to reach a laudable goal.

tobias haller

A very fuzzy, I’d say almost useless, survey.

Having financial support in the budget does not make something a “churchwide ministry” — nor does having a desk with a name on it at “815.” Whatever happened to a robust understanding of subsidiarity, in which central authorities are only allowed to do those things that cannot be done elsewhere?

Ann Fontaine

This is great idea to have input from around the church. Looking at the survey I wonder how the information will help Executive Council. It seems poorly designed and open to misinterpretation. Here is what our son in law who studied statistics says:

It strikes me that the numbered headings 1 through 5 all start in very much the same way. It is very difficult to comprehend the differences among the “questions” 1-3 (and 3-5 are virtually, if not completely, identical).

Then the individual prompts seem to be full of church-y jargon. I know that the audience for this survey is folks who are heavily involved in the church, but I would be concerned that the high cognitive load and the large number of items would affect the quality of the responses, especially by the end of the survey.

Then there’s the scale of responses. The “check all that apply” instruction implies that the categories can overlap. But I don’t think “an area where churchwide resources should not be focused” is an appropriate overlap with “an essential area for churchwide ministry”. I wonder how the analysts will extract useful information from data collected this way.

I would have designed the questions for each prompt to something like “Is this an area where churchwide resources should be focused? Yes/No/No opinion” and “If yes, should this ministry be implemented by dioceses, parishes, or both?” (Notwithstanding the idea that the prompts probably ought to be better written.)

The Order of Ministry item at the end seems to miss an important layer between Layperson and all the ordained offices: That of current or former vestry member.

If this is a budget exercise, it would have been useful, I think, to ask respondents to play the budget game… you get a hundred points, and you have to allocate them among no more than 10 ministries that you feel are important. I think you would gain a lot more insight into respondents’ priorities that way.

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