If you are an Episcopalian and follow Churchwide news, then you have heard that the budget (link) has a few problems–program areas getting slashed, numbers not adding up, canonical mandates not being followed. These have been well discussed at length by others (quotes and more links here, here, here, and here) , and then there’s this statement from some of the people who helped put the budget out (link).
This next part will be heavy in Episcopalese for help translating see this page.
The Budget Process
ExCoun has to submit a budget to GC. To do that, ExCoun sends PB&F a “General Church Program and a detailed budget for the year following the next GC.” (Everything in quotes is language from the Canons.) Four months before GC, ExCoun has to send the proposed budget and planned asking out to various people–Bishops and Provincial Presidents. This information must also be submitted to GC.
Before the third day prior to adjornment, PB&F will report to a Joint Session of GC on the proposed Budget.
The budget we have before us and which we have been reacting to, is the budget ExCoun is canonically required to disperse 4 months before GC.
Executive Council met this past week in Salt Lake City and, rightfully, the budget was on the list of things they discussed. At the end of the meeting they released this statement and the attached memo which was sent to PB&F (link).
First, because I notice these things, the Easter greeting goes “Alleluia! Christ is Risen.” “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!” But that is the very definition of adiaphora.
More importantly, “extreme disappointment” and a memo to PB&F do not begin to address the problems of the proposed budget.
Let me be clear. I think that the proposed budget has multiple problems. First is, of course, the numbers. Second is the system that created this budget. Third is what the proposed budget has created.
Right now, all I want to do is talk about the third problem. The first two problems are significant and need to be addressed, but I do not believe that this is possible until we address the third problem.
Succinctly, I believe that the proposed budget created fear, hurt, and a sense of betrayal. Fear that The Episcopal Church may collapse. Hurt that our Church, as described in the proposed budget and the system which created it, is so out of touch with us. Betrayal about the lack of pastoral or clear leadership since the budget came out. All of which is being expressed as anger.
This Church, my Church, which I love, for which I work, which I joyfully represent, which has ordained me, did not seem to understand that this undercuts things that are essential to me having stayed in the Church. And then as people looked closer, things made less sense (The Rev Susan Snook (link) has some excellent posts about this). How can my elected leaders not understand my hopes, dreams, and goals for the growth and flourishing of this Church I love were eliminated in the proposed budget? And all of this during an already shaky time for all established Churches.
So where do we go from here?
I have been in enough analogous situations to know that no one person is to blame, and I’m not looking to assign blame. I want someone to assume responsibility. I have been a leader long enough to know that sometimes the leader’s job is to be the one who says, “I’m sorry.”
So here is what I wish Executive Council had said. Not just to each other. Not just to PB&F. To me. To those of us who are deputies to General Convention. To those of us who care about The Episcopal Church and our future.
We know that the proposed budget was wildly inaccurate. We have heard the anxiety and concern these inaccuracies caused across the Church. This outpouring of concern is a result of the love and dedication people have to the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church. We are invested in and working towards (and more detail here would be nice) passing an accurate, balanced budget at General Convetion. We apologize for the anxiety and hurt that the proposed budget caused. The Executive Council is committed to the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church.
Right now, I have trouble, in good conscience, welcoming people into the Church which proposed this budget. A Church with leadership behaving this way. In these past few months my experience has not been one of welcoming or leadership. I am concerned about being forgotten and abandoned.
Let me be clear, I am an Episcopalian. I’d like to be more joyful about that today. I’d like to be so excited about how our budget describes what we are about in our mission and ministry that I cannot wait to tell others. I prayerfully look forward to that day.