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%.