General Convention found its bottom line yesterday afternoon when both deputies and bishops concurred on the 2004-06 budget. The triennial budget was approved in little more time than it takes to write a check – for $146,395,000 to be exact.
Bonnie Anderson from the Diocese of Michigan, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith from the Diocese of Connecticut and others on the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance were all smiles as “yes” votes resounded. There was very little debate in either house or at a final hearing Thursday morning.
“We chose to take a middle way to provide a challenge for all of us,” Smith said of the process of redistributing monies in the preliminary budget prepared by the Executive Council.
“We could have rooted up the budget, or we could have simply passed it on as we received it,” Smith said.
In line with a new directive rising from the 2000 Convention, input by those creating programs within the five priority areas – Young Adults and Youth, Reconciliation and Evangelism, Congregational Transformation, Justice and Peace, and Partnerships – was sought and reflected in the final figures.
Canonically bound to shape a balanced budget based on revenue from diocesan contributions, investment, interest and other income, PB&F members borrowed from Peter to fund Paul.
“We were able to shift $1.43 million from canonical and corporate areas to program and mission,” Rushing said.
That includes a $290,000 budget cut from committees, commissions, agencies and boards; $50,000 each from the office of the presiding bishop, the General Convention site and facilities, archives, and ecumenical and interfaith relations.
Reductions in the corporate section of the budget included $100,000 from both telecommunications and building services, and $75,000 from the treasurer’s office.
Most of the “found” money was transferred to one area: ministries with young people, which gained $1 million, to be allocated during the next year.
Other increases included $150,000 each to overseas dioceses and Jubilee ministries, and $130,000 to develop multicultural and multilingual liturgies.
“To me, it is just so incredibly exciting,” the Very Rev. Ernesto Medina, vice chair of the deputies Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, said Aug 1. “We were able to put together a resolution that from the very beginning allows the voices that have never been heard to be heard.”
During sessions Thursday and Wednesday, six dioceses received recognition for sending more than the 21 percent standard to the national church. Those dioceses are: Central Gulf Coast, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Newark and Washington.
Convention Daily reporter Sharon Sheridan contributed to this story.