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Toward Columbus: Mission priorities drive proposed budget of $152 million

By Melodie Woerman
[Episcopal News Service]  A proposed three-year budget for the Episcopal Church totals nearly $152 million, and the chair of the budget committee said it is more than just dollars -- it's a mission statement for ministry.

Pan Adams, chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F), said the budget that will be considered by General Convention in June was developed based on five mission priorities adopted by the 2003 Convention and reaffirmed by Executive Council in 2005. They are:

  • young adults and youth
  • congregational transformation
  • reconciliation and evangelism
  • peace and justice ministries
  • partnerships within the Anglican Communion and with other faith communities

But, Adams said, these priorities still can be adjusted, based on what PB&F hears from deputies and bishops during a special hearing Monday, June 12, in Columbus, the day before the legislative sessions begin. She noted that if new mission priorities arise from this hearing, and if they are adopted by the Convention, the proposed budget could be adjusted to reflect the new goals.

Adams stressed that her committee truly sees the budget as a statement of the church's goals. "We say it's a mission-driven budget, and we really mean that," she said.

Modest increase in expenses

The proposed 2007-2009 budget of $151,986,107 is nearly $10 million, or seven percent higher than that for the current triennium. Included in this amount is an average 2 percent increase in staff salaries and an 8 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance.

An increase in the giving to the work of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), while amounting to only a fraction of 1 percent of the budget, may spark debate at General Convention, much as it did during the January meeting of Executive Council when it was introduced.

The ACC has asked each province of the Anglican Communion to increase its giving, and that amounts to an extra $550,000 from the Episcopal Church. Executive Council voted to include this increase in the proposed budget, with most members concluding it was important to fund the ACC's budget request in the same way dioceses are asked to fully fund the work of the Episcopal Church and parishes the work of their diocese. With the addition of the extra $550,000, the total earmarked for the ACC over the next three years will be $2.35 million.

The additional funding for the ACC comes after a request to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada by the primates of the Anglican Communion to voluntarily withdraw from the ACC meeting in June 2005 as an acknowledgement of the strain to the Communion caused by the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and the blessing of same-sex unions in some Canadian dioceses. Both churches complied with the request.

Other proposed areas of increase in the budget include:

  • Church Deployment Office for additional research and development and expanding the Fresh Start program for clergy and parishes
  • increased rent for the Archives of the Episcopal Church, along with the addition of a digital content manager and more research support churchwide
  • increases in Jubilee grants relative to the amounts approved at General Convention 2003
  • increased spending for Asia and Pacific programs in the Anglican and Global Relations office, as well as increases in appointed missionaries and the Young Adult Service Corps
  • a $75,000 increase in funding for the churchwide advertising collaborative
  • reserves for the costs of a Presiding Bishop transition every nine years
  • repayment of a line of credit taken to finance asbestos abatement and other renovations due to 40 years of deferred maintenance at the Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Avenue in New York

Budget decreases will include $825,000 in staff costs during the next three years through retirement and attrition. Executive Council also recommended that some domestic mission programs, including more than $100,000 for work in Appalachia, would be reduced to help fund the additional contribution to the ACC, which is only a portion of the total contribution of the Episcopal Church to the work of the Anglican Communion.

Most income from diocesan contributions

The increase in the proposed budget will be funded largely from additional giving by dioceses. Growth in diocesan contributions is projected at 2.5 percent in 2007, 3 percent in 2008 and 3 percent in 2009. To fund the common work of the Episcopal Church, dioceses are asked to contribute 21 percent of their operating budget, minus a $100,000 exemption for the cost of maintaining a bishop's office.

Kurt Barnes, treasurer of the Episcopal Church, reports that the 100 domestic dioceses within the Episcopal Church are contributing to the budget at varying rates in 2006:

  • giving at or above the requested 21 percent: 45 dioceses
  • giving between 10 and 20 percent: 28 dioceses
  • giving between 0 and 10 percent: 16 dioceses

The remaining 11 dioceses have not provided sufficient financial data to calculate a rate of giving.

PB&F chair Adams noted that the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi both met the 21 percent asking in 2005, despite the ravaging effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Contributions from dioceses will make up the largest portion of income to the national church budget, at 61 percent. Investment income represents another 20 percent. The remaining 19 percent will come from government payments for those assisted by Episcopal Migration Ministries (which then is spent in EMM programs), revenue from the churchwide newspaper, Episcopal Life, and other miscellaneous sources.

A new revenue stream will be rent from space at the Episcopal Church Center. Renovations will create two and a half floors of space that will be leased to rent-paying tenants, and that money, projected at $2.2 million over three years, will help offset annual debt payments on the $34 million renovation project.

Road to adoption

The proposed budget, which was built collaboratively by Church Center staff and Executive Council members, was approved by Executive Council in January 2006 and now is in the hands of Program, Budget and Finance, which is charged with presenting the budget to General Convention. Before it does, the committee will conduct its hearing on mission priorities and two others on the budget itself. The schedule for these meetings will be:
Open hearing on mission priorities: June 12, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Open hearing on budget spending, June 14, 7:30-9 p.m.
Open hearing on budget funding, June 15, 7:30-9 p.m.

Based on what the committee hears on June 12, it will present a resolution on June 13 asking General Convention to adopt a final set of budget mission priorities.

The budget numbers themselves can change as a result of input during the two evenings of hearings, as well as any adjustments to mission priorities. Any changes to budget line items will be final at the end of the day June 17, and the budget will be presented to deputies and bishops during a joint session on June 19. A final vote on its adoption is set for June 20.

Information on the proposed budget is posted online at