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What’s missing in the budget?

What’s missing in the budget?

by LeeAnne Watkins

I’ve been following the train wreck called the budget process. There’s lots to be said, and many are saying it.

But there is something almost comically absent in this latest round of blogospheric commentary.

40% of our dioceses do not pay their full apportionment*. We all know it.

Try this. Print a map and then color in the dioceses who don’t pay. It’s a striking image for a visual learner like me.

Go ahead, get out your crayons, make a pretty picture. Have it sitting in front of you as you sit on the floor during convention. And when someone goes to the microphone you can look on your map and determine for yourself how much weight or credibility you can give the speaker when it comes to budget issues.


There’s even more we can do, though.

What if there was a resolution that said that deputies and bishops from dioceses that do not pay their full share do not get to vote on how our money is spent? That seems more than fair.

And yes, I can guess your next question: what about dioceses that don’t pay out of hardship? Sure, there are a few dioceses in that position. We can create a panel, perhaps a sub-set of PB&F, who could hear their case and make exceptions. That’s how we’ve done it here in Minnesota, and it works well.

Here’s another thought. What if the House of Deputies refuses to consent to the election of bishops in dioceses who do not pay their fair share? That could change the conversation pretty quickly, yes?

So we have a choice. We can spend our breath complaining about the process that produced this budget. We can lament the dire nature of the expense side, competing and bickering for the tiny bits of dollars we can spend for mission. So far this hasn’t, shall we say, brought out our best selves (how’s that for an understatement?).

Or we can start having the conversation we’re avoiding – holding each other accountable for the income side of the balance sheet.

We are parts of a body in need of each other. We are all in mission together. So let’s hold our brothers and sisters accountable for their fair share of money.

*numbers are rounded off and any math errors are accidental not intentional.

The Rev. LeeAnne Watkins is the rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, MN. She is a Clergy Deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota 19%.


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Troy Haliwell

Well, my diocese is Olympia, and we paid 20% of our income; and 100% of what our contribution was determined has been paid.

I am in favor of a 10% also myself, but that 10% of income for a poorer diocese is a much harder hit than a richer one.

So perhaps we should instead consider a graduated rate. Say 5-10-15?

Elizabeth Kaeton

Consistency. Consistency. consistency. We have no credibility asking folks in the pew to tithe (10%) and not do the same at the diocesan and national level.

10%. Tithe. Consistency.

I’m not as clear about what to do when the tithe is not met. I’m prone to think that, as long as there is at least an incremental % increase every year, showing good will and progress, it would be okay.

Dan Burner

In what Gospel does Jesus say that we should listen to our brothers and sisters only if they give the same amount that we do? This conversation seems to be based on the idea that we give based on what we get out of it. I thought we are to give because we are called to be the Body of Christ in the world. Dan


…what if cutting the asking significantly is the best thing we can do now?

Jim’s idea is surely an idea worth considering. 19% is too high an assessment. Anything above 10% is too high.

June Butler

Dave Paisley

AF: “The National Church has many programs you would probably love to support.”

Maybe, maybe not. Like the government, national loves to spend other people’s money.

Native American ministry, Youth service corps, ministry in Haiti,

Mixed bag. How much actual money gets spent at the point of use, vs admin salaries to support these?

leadership development,

For whom? Meh. Effective?

Christian ed programs for churches – free.

Really? who uses them?

“There is an imbalance of where the funds go”


“…but the programs are great and hardworking staff at the program level. ”

Yeah, lots of them.

“Episcopal Public Policy Network – alerts you to issues facing congress that you might want to comment about to your legislators.”

Great, we spend a ton of money on lobbyists.

The fact is, national’s appetite for money (like any body whose income is largely divorced from the source and to whom is not particularly answerable) is infinite. Every program is worthwhile, nothing is ever terminated.

The useful, boots on ground, money is a tiny fraction of the total. The rest goes on bloated bureaucracy (in which I include the GenCon boondoggle).

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