Poke around in Episcopal precincts on Facebook and you quickly learn that folks have portions of the church’s budget that are of particular interest to them. One of the line items I always look at is Episcopal News Service. Although funded by the church, ENS makes an effort to report objectively on the church’s affairs. And if, in the end, we are all compromised in some way by our economic self-interest, ENS endeavors to treat all parties fairly, and remains a place where one can usually get all sides of whatever story is unfolding in the church.
I would hate to see ENS lose one of the three reporters it currently employs, but that is a plausible interpretation of the comment at line 790 of the line by line budget analysis released late Friday afternoon by the Office of Public Affairs.
In explaining that ENS’s budget was reduced from $1,346,605 last triennium to $1,097,193 this triennium, Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls and Treasurer Kurt Barnes wrote: “Former print news business staff were eliminated. Additional staff reductions anticipated. Estimate for ongoing staff assumes inflation and medical cost increases and a staff reduction.”
The possibility of a staff reduction is not mentioned in the line by line budget that was approved by Executive Council, but the figures are the same as those in the budget released on Friday. Curiously, the council said: “You will notice significant investment in the ministry of Communications, including the Episcopal News Service, as a primary resource for Evangelism and to ensure Episcopalians everywhere have the information they need to create the networks necessary to do the work of mission.”
So I am wondering both whether someone at ENS is going to lose his or her job, and whether they learned of this possibility by reading a line by line budget commentary.