The Episcopal News Service reports that last week the bishops of the dioceses in Province IX of the Episcopal Church approved the creation of a development group. The bishops were meeting for a Province IX synod meeting. The purpose of the group is for each diocese in the province to achieve fiscal independence. Province IX consists of the seven Spanish speaking dioceses in Latin America & the Caribbean; Central Ecuador, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Litoral Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
The creation of the development group is another step in the efforts of the Episcopal Church started in 2013 for these dioceses to secure their future ministries by achieving financial self-sufficiency. The seven dioceses were inspired in this direction by a conference in Tela Honduras presented by the sponsorship of the Church Pension Fund in 2011. Since that conference, two dioceses, Dio Colombia and Dio Honduras, have created their own diocesan development groups.
With the creation of the provincial development group the seven dioceses look forward to sharing their ideas and successes. The bylaws for the group state “its purpose is to assist with the development and self-sustainability of the diocese through the promotion of sustainable development, the solicitation of resources and the strengthening of companion relationships.”
The diocese most closest to financial independence is Dio Dominican Republic. The diocese had created it’s own development group back in 1998. In the years since it’s formation, the development group has raised $10 million for diocesan infrastructure. The model has been raised as an example for the other six dioceses. Most of the income from the Dominican Development Group is generated by short-term mission groups. The new volunteer director of the province-wide development group, Bob Stevens, is the former executive director of the Dominican Development Group.
Dio Honduras has set a goal of financial self-sustainability of 2019. According to the Bishop of Honduras, the Rt Revd Lloyd Allen, “2019 is our time to say it’s good what you have done for us, but beyond this we are ready to walk on our own. My [diocesan] convention is a week from Saturday and I’m going to be letting people know that we have two years to go and nothing is stopping us now.”
The TEC triennial budget for 2013 – 2015 had set aside 2.9 million for Province IX diocesan block grants. The most recent budget for 2016 – 2018 retains that figure. The development group, led by Bob Stevens intends to work with each diocese within its own context.