Episcopal Life Convention Daily
Thursday, 13 July 2000  

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Balanced budget funds mission, youth and leadership development

To the strains of the Rolling Stones' "You can't always get what you want," the Program, Budget and Finance Committee delivered a proposed $138 million triennial budget to a joint session of General Convention Wednesday. "We see the whole budget as the mission of the church," said committee chair Bonnie Anderson (Michigan) noting the committee sought to develop a "vision-driven" budget. Committee members highlighted several proposed budget allocations, including:

  • $250,000 to establish an Episcopal Youth Corps;
  • an increase of $1.2 million for a total of $4,050,000 for historically black colleges;
  • $75,000 apiece to the Alleluia Fund and the 20/20 evangelism initiative, plus creation of a $200,000 reserve fund for 20/20 pending results of an Executive Council study;
  • $22,500 to increase congregational development and leadership training to the deaf and aging;
  • $90,000 for a prison ministry task force; and
  • $26,000 to gather data about the needs and shapes of ministry in the church.
Although several people spoke on their behalf at an earlier committee hearing, neither Cursillo nor the CREDO clergy wellness project received funding in the proposed budget. The committee also proposed not to fund a stipend for the president of the House of Deputies, although it allocated $120,000 for assistance to the president. The original request of $750,000 for liturgy revision, renewal and enrichment was reduced to $75,000.

The proposed budget is balanced, as required, said Bishop Russell Jacobus (Fond Du Lac), committee vice chair. The total cost of the vision of the church, as expressed throughcommitteeandcommission reports and General Convention resolutions, exceeded $144 million, while only $138 million was available --- including 2 million derived from unrestricted endowments, he said. If every diocese paid the 21 percent asking, income would surpass requests by nearly $5 million, Jacobus said.

Noting the few people who attended the income hearing and the hundreds present at the expense hearing, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said it indicated "a disconnect between whatwewant to do and how willing we are to fund it ... or maybe how able we think we are to fund it."

"Personally, I am very pleased with what has come out of Program, Budget and Finance," Executive Council member and committee legislative aide Barbara Mann said. "They've built on our budget and refined it" as requested by the General Convention.Shouldmoremoneybecome available, Mann said she hopes the council would first look to fund items passed by General Convention not originally included in the budget.

The Rev. Titus Presler (Massachusetts), said he was thrilled with the funding for the youth corps. "I think on the verge of the 21st century, where the engagementandministry of youngpeople in and through our church is one of the top priorities on everyone's minds, this is just a banner kind of measure. ... What we know is that young people already are very energized by this kind of opportunity" in ventures such as the PeaceCorps, Vista and through other faith groups, he said.

Funding for the historically black colleges, meanwhile, "indicates that the Episcopal Church is very interested in the education of the students we serve," said the Rev. Thomas Laughton, chaplain at St. Paul's College, Lawrenceville, Virginia. The increase comes after six years of static appropriation, he noted.

The Rev. Jacqueline Means, prison ministry director, said she was "both surprised and pleased" by the prison ministries allocation. "I've looked back at all of the resolutions passed on prison ministry that have led to no action. This will enable us to study the issues and develop educational materials for local use." Bishop Mark MacDonald of Alaska was pleased about the $375,000 allocated to the Indigenous Theological Training Institute, on whose board he sits, and about monies made available for mission in general. "We're very excited about the focus on mission and evangelism and the mention of diversity in the context of that," he stated.

Support for provincial program coordinators arrived with a $600,000 line in the budget, a detail that pleased Bishop Jack McKelvey (Rochester), president of Province II. "It's a great move to allow us to do the mission of the church that we're called to do. This will enable us to coordinate our efforts and strengthen our ministry."

But supporters of other programs were disappointed.

The Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music committee reduced an original request for $750,000 to $180,000, but received only $75,000 in the proposed budget, said Sister Barbara Jean Campbell OSH of New York. "I'm disappointed that a church [which] is seeking to put an emphasis on evangelism does not seem to take seriously that liturgy is the primary tool of evangelism in the Episcopal Church."

The last General Convention called for a program of liturgical enrichment and renewal, and she expects it to do the same this time by passing A066, she said. "And yet we continue to be unable to obtain the funds to move forward on this."

Bishop Leo Frade (Honduras) expressed disappointment about receiving no funds to "export" Cursillo: "Maybe it's a misunderstanding because many people misunderstand Cursillo. There's no question Cursillo is an exciting branch of the church," he said, adding they would ask others in the church for support. It now goes to deputies and bishops for debate and action.

The committee evaluated funding requests in light of mission imperatives to promote diversity, made disciples and apostles, enhance communications, affirm continuing partnerships within the Anglican Communion and encourage ecumenical relationships. 

Ed Stannard and Dale Gruner contributed to this story.

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