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Focus on budget, structure and mission continues

Focus on budget, structure and mission continues

The Rev. Susan Brown Snook has a new series on her blog, looking at whether or not The Episcopal Church is a sinking ship.


Day One: Deck Chairs

Day Two: Will the Real Subsidiarity Principle Please Stand Up?

Day Three: About That Elephant

Day Four: Empowering Mission

Day Five (for tomorrow): Where I Think This Ship is Going

Perhaps most striking is her “About That Elephant” post:

A few days ago, I argued that the real problem facing The Episcopal Church isn’t our budget, or our budget process, or our churchwide structure. The real problem is the fact that we are declining precipitously in attendance, membership, and finances. Those other things are just symptoms of the real problem.

She then considers the budget in terms of the Anglican Marks for Mission, stating the cost and the percentage of the budget:

1. To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom —-$2,283,270 —-2.15%

2. To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers —-$286,438 —-0.27%

3. To respond to human need by loving service —-$26,428,618 —-24.91%

4. To seek to transform unjust structures —-$4,600,551 —-4.34%

5. To sustain, renew life of the earth —-$106,470 —-0.10%

Not included as marks of mission, but categorized as:

6. Administration —-$46,823,109 —-44.13%

7. Governance —-$12,298,810 —-11.59%

8. Building Religious Relationships —-$5,207,010 —-4.91%

9. Stewardship and Leadership Development —-$8,067,497 —-7.60%

Do you see what I see? After all is said and done, the glaring enormous over-inflated budget item is not Christian Formation, not at all. It is Administration. When pared down as noted above, it comprises over 44% of our churchwide budget. That doesn’t even count the cost of General Convention!

She proposes cuts to administration, the selling of the office building in Manhattan, and setting goals concerning the maximum percentage of the budget that can be used for administration.

Snook continues to raise issues and point towards possibilities for the future of the church. Agree or disagree, one has to be impressed on her dedication to the subject.

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Chris H.

Several groups rate non-profits and charities by how much of donations actually go toward the stated purpose of the group. TEC would be failing those tests-too much administration.

I also don’t see much evangelism in the PB’s statements that end up in the public eye. Most of which aside from never ending questions about homosexual priests and/or marriage, seem to be explanations of why TEC is shrinking(Episcopalians don’t have many kids because they’re better educated–translation, if you have kids, you’re not smart enough for TEC)or saying that there are many ways to God and TEC allows many viewpoints and doesn’t have set definitions, etc. while promoting saving the planet, social justice projects and such. So if you’re Jewish,Buddhist,etc. feel free to stay where you are and if you’re into social justice, helping the poor, etc. your money and time are better spent in organizations that have defined goals/beliefs with better ratings.

I know many people love her speeches because she is calm and assured, but there also isn’t any excitement or passion in her speeches– nor many mentions of Christ as per her Easter address. She’s doing PR, but it doesn’t seem focused on getting people in the door, just explanations.

Chris Harwood

Padre Michael

I agree with Ann about how many of our categories are fungible. Is the salary of a full-time evangelist mission or administration?

The TEC-level funding is going to be about “administration,” one way or another. Mission, evangelism, preaching, outreach … these primarily happen on the parish level. You may argue about the amount we spend on administration, but the percentage seems right. If there’s a much greater percentage being spent on mission at the top level, we’re probably doing it wrong.

Michael Rich

Ann Fontaine

It does take some amount of administrative $$ to oversee programs — I wonder if the time of the admin section has been divided according to program areas. It is not like they just sit around collecting the big bucks. I know the PB is on the road most all the time preaching the good news that the Episcopal Church offers. Her budget could be easily attributed to “Evangelism” I don’t know of any other PB who has been the public face of TEC like ++Katharine

Chris Arnold

I was also struck by the imbalance in the budgetary allocation for the 5 marks of mission. I would love to see 1 and 2 be increased, even at the expense of 3. But then again, I think our mission is first and foremost to proclaim the Kingdom and build up the church.

Claire Carter

It’s simply the most worldly use of resources I can imagine. I am glad to see that helping people in need is also high, but that could be done so much more effectively on the local level, could it not?

It is a bizarre way to run a church – looking at it from the standpoint of resources allocated to spreading the good news of the kingdom vs. administration.

And it’s the national policies that have sent the EC so off-track and mission in the first place.

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