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From Columbus: Deputies adopt $152 million budget for next triennium

By Melodie Woerman
[Episcopal News Service] 

The House of Deputies on June 20 passed a budget of just more than $152 million for the next three years and sent it to the House of Bishops for final action.

The House of Bishops will consider the budget June 21, the final day of General Convention.

The document represents three years of preparation and hours of consideration by Church Center staff, the Administration and Finance Committee of Executive Council and the Joint Committee on Program, Budget & Finance (PB&F) which was charged with crafting the document during the days of Convention.

The funds all add up as monies dedicated to the five mission priorities adopted by the Convention as well as other program areas and canonical requirements to support the work of the church. The priorities are:

  • Justice and peace (with an emphasis on the Millennium Development Goals);
  • Young adults, youth and children;
  • Reconciliation and evangelism;
  • Congregational transformation; and
  • Partnerships within the Anglican Communion, and with ecumenical and interfaith entities

The total budget is nearly $10 million, or 7 percent, higher than that of the current triennium.

PB&F, the committee of deputies and bishops charged with presenting a final budget to Convention, also heard testimony from dozens of people who requested funding for a variety of projects. PB&F responded to those requests; a number of line items were added, including:

  • $924,000 to respond to the eight areas of emphasis in the Millennium Development Goals by creating a collaboration between Episcopal Relief and Development, Jubilee Ministries and Executive Council;
  • $900,000 to fund a new Church Center office to solicit major gifts for the church;
  • $300,000 to fund one of two Hurricane Katrina-related resolutions before Convention, which will develop a strategy for a model missionary initiative in the area around New Orleans which can produce data on church development to the Episcopal Church as a whole;
  • $65,000 for a camp for children of prisoners; and
  • $21,000 for non-violence training.

Existing areas in the budget which received notable increases included:

  • $500,000 in block grants for Native American ministries;
  • $200,000 for the Episcopal Church in the Philippines;
  • $120,000 for new and continuing ministries in Appalachia; and
  • $110,000 for three historically black Episcopal colleges (St. Augustine's, St. Paul's and Vorhees).

There also is an increase in response to the request from Anglican Consultative Council to support its work. All provinces in the Anglican Communion were asked to increase their aid by 10 percent; this budget complies with that request.

The budget also includes an average two percent increase in staff salaries and an eight percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance

Cuts included $825,000 in staff reductions and another $825,000 by eliminating the efforts for a churchwide advertising initiative.

The majority of funding will come from diocesan commitments, which will make up 61 percent of the total revenue. Dioceses are asked to contribute 21 percent of their diocesan income, after $100,000 is deducted to allow for expenses related to the episcopacy. Additional funding for the budget comes from interest on investments, money from the federal government for refugee resettlement and smaller sources such as Episcopal Life, Episcopal Books and Resources and expected income from rental of renovated space at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.

PB&F also called on all budget departments to earmark 0.7 percent of their budgets for efforts of the Millennium Development Goals; as well, each committee member personally made a commitment to give towards the goals.