What’s happening with UTO?

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Mark Harris notes at his blog today that 4 board members have resigned in protest (see letter below):


UPDATED: From The Leadership

Office of Public Affairs

Providing Clarity

Recently a statement by former members of the board of the United Thank Offering has been circulating. The following is offered in the hope of providing some clarity.

The United Thank Offering is a central part of the life and mission of The Episcopal Church. The United Thank Offering is all of us who offer our coins in thanksgiving for the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. As our Episcopal Church leadership has frequently expressed, the Church needs a healthy and vibrant United Thank Offering. Its important work is not threatened, and United Thank Offering programs and grants will continue.

As part of the support of this important work, drafts of new bylaws and a Memorandum of Understanding were put forward by Episcopal Church leadership as part of a process agreed to by the United Thank Offering board. Leadership’s proposal would establish standard business and fiduciary practices, including for accountability and transparency, expected in the life of the Church and as is expected of all CCABs.

It is Leadership’s hope that respectful and reasoned dialogue, as was anticipated by the agreed-upon process, will continue around these proposals, with all stakeholders sharing their points of view to enable life-giving creativity and health to the United Thank Offering in the 21st century.

Please keep The Episcopal Church and its United Thank Offering in your prayers as we move forward.

Neva Rae Fox

Public Affairs Officer

September 4, 2013

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian

Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpiscopalChurchYT

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For more info contact:

Neva Rae Fox

Public Affairs Officer

The Episcopal Church

publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org

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

Mark Harris notes at his blog today that 4 board members have resigned in protest (see letters and comments below):

President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings writes at Facebook on the Episcopal Women’s Caucus page:

Hello everyone. I’m not aware of any proposals to take UTO’s money, and I would strenuously oppose such a proposal. I also haven’t heard anyone talk about making the board obsolete. We all know that UTO is a valuable ministry of The Episcopal Church. Revising the group’s bylaws, updating its memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DFMS and putting standard business practices in place are necessary steps in ensuring its ability to continue its invaluable mission for years to come. The work we are involved in now builds on the work of a task force created by Executive Council in 2008 to strengthen the UTO for ministry in the 21st century (INC-055 Ad-Hoc Committee). It’s important to note that the proposed bylaw changes, which are only in draft form, seek to have UTO observe the same reporting, transparency and governance standards as other Episcopal Church committees and commissions. Constable Fund grants and Jubilee Grants, for example, are all approved by Executive Council.

Four people are working cooperatively with the UTO Board to do this work and hope to present a proposal at the October Executive Council meeting. Those people are Steve Hutchinson (chair of GAM of Executive Council and chancellor of the Diocese of Utah), Paul Nix (legal counsel for DFMS), Bishop Stacy Sauls (COO) and the Rev. Heather Melton (coordinator of the United Thank Offering).

Obviously, having a few members of the existing UTO board resign while the project is in process has made matters more complicated, but I’m told that collaboration with the remaining board members will continue and Executive Council will review the results next month.

Let me know if you have other questions.

The Executive Council will have this on their agenda in October 2013.

For release September 3, 2013

A Statement from the Former Communications Convener of the United Thank Offering Board:

With the stroke of a pen, the United Thank Offering Board (UTO) will possibly be rendered powerless and voiceless by Episcopal Church leadership. This is a complete reversal of a three- year study process that resulted in the General Convention ratifying the report of a Study Committee (INC-055 AdHoc) in 2012. The report praised the UTO Board’s work and declared:

“We believe that the United Thank Offering must continue to be autonomous but interdependent as regards the corporate entity that constitutes The Episcopal Church.”

The abuse of power seems staggering. With the revision of bylaws written by DFMS leadership, anticipated to be presented to The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church in October 2013, the current United Thank Offering Board, representing 125 years of service, will cease to exist.

The revised bylaws document eviscerates the United Thank Offering. It is monstrous and the worst set of revisions ever seen by one longtime bylaws expert. Several Board members described initial reactions to the document as “Horror.” The Board President said the word “eviscerate” occurred to her as well.

In protest, 4 persons including the board president, Barbi Tinder, and most of the officers have resigned from the board. The group resigning includes 3 of the 4 persons appointed by the Presiding Bishop to be part of a working group to revise the “old” bylaws that were approved by Executive Council just two years ago. One person said she felt betrayed. It appears that none of the input from the UTO members of the group was integrated into the proposed document.

In the proposed draft revision, the current board is superseded by a new election process that totally removes the United Thank Offering from its historic relationship with Episcopal Church Women.

Any decision making from board is removed; it will be only an advisory body. It appears The United Thank Offering Board will no longer be responsible for its granting process, budget and approval of expenditures, communications, meeting planning, education and training events, and public appearances. The Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, also known as DFMS (the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society), becomes fully responsible for the administration and management of the United Thank Offering.

The earned interest from millions of dollars of UTO trust funds and annual UTO offerings come totally into DFMS control. The Chief Operating Officer has said, “We, DFMS, are the United Thank Offering and the United Thank Offering is DFMS.”

For further information contact:

Robin Sumners: rwc@prismnet.com

Former Communication Convener

Barbi Tinder: uto prov1@gmail.com

Former President

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Lisa Fox
Guest

I don't understand what's happening here, and I hope someone will clarify.

I treasure the ministry of the UTO every day when I drop coins into my "little blue box" on my dresser.

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Nicholas Beasley
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Nicholas Beasley

"The Leadership." What a strange, Orwellian collective self-reference.

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Lisa Fox
Guest

I don't understand what's happening here, and I hope someone will clarify.

I treasure the ministry of the UTO every day when I drop coins into my "little blue box" on my dresser.

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Elizabeth Kaeton
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Elizabeth Kaeton

When I lived in Maine, the conventional wisdom was, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Given the history of the UTO and ECW, I don't understand this action. Given the heavy-handed style of the present administration and previous attempts at "restructuring," this just doesn't smell right.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

Gay Jennings explains all of this very well. This process began while I was still on Executive Council. This isn't a "control issue." It is an issue of bringing all of the ministries that are part of DFMS into compliance with the various financial and legal requirements that govern non-profit groups. Before getting all out of sorts about the new by-laws, it might help to see how much of them were actually necessary to be in compliance with those that already govern the church. Without having read the suggestions from the UTO folks, it could well be that what they were suggesting would not be in compliance with the rules that govern us financially.

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