An austerity budget that its proponents say will foster growth and renewal for the Episcopal Church will be taken up for debate today at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting from 5-12 July in Indianapolis.
The “Five Marks of Mission” budget represents a compromise between the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Spending priorities and cuts advocated in both proposals have found their way into the final $113,709,150 three-year budget.
The budget sees significant cuts in staffing, legal and communications expenses, while also boosting the discretionary spending of the presiding bishop. Over $2 million have also been allocated from the church’s investments to create a development office to raise funds.
In the preamble to the budget, the Committee on Program, Budget and Finance stated they had used the “Five Marks of Mission” – a formulary adopted by the 2009 General Convention to describe the work of the church – in allocating spending.
The five marks are: 1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; 2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers; 3. To respond to human need by loving service; 4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society; and 5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
The committee said that “structuring the budget in this way is a major advance, understanding, at the same time, that for many the budget does not go far enough in describing how expenditures in governance and administration actually advance the Five Marks of Mission.”
Spending priorities in the final budget were “based on not only the Five Marks of Mission, but also the testimony of the church at the three PB&F Open Hearings. This budget combines what we believe to be the best work of the Executive Council, the various funding proposals offered, including that of the Presiding Bishop, and the work of PB&F.”
The Draft Budget they said, supported the “following priorities: Block grants for new work in each of the Five Marks of Mission; An increased rate for reducing the debt resulting from the renovation of the Church Center; A grant from unrestricted assets to create and sustain a professional Development Office; and Restoration of funds for the work of Formation and Vocation.”
The total budget of $113.7 million is approximately $2.1 million less than the previous three-year budget. Approximately 66 per cent of income for the coming triennium – fiscal years 2013-2015 – is forecast to come from diocesan contributions. The budget asks each diocese to contribute at least 19 per cent of its income to the national church to fund operations.
Approximately 23 per cent of the budget is forecast to come from investment income, and the balance from rents and other miscellaneous sources.
Expenses for the coming triennium have been broken down into the three traditional categories of Program, 51 per cent; Canonical, 18 per cent; and Corporate, 31 per cent.
Line item details within the proposed budget show the haste in which the document was prepared as well as the new spending priorities. Lines 229 and 235 of the budget, for example, show funds set aside for church conferences in North Korea -- however, the World Council of Churches is scheduled to hold its next assembly in South Korea, though TEC may have other plans.
Expenses for the presiding bishop’s office have been reduced from $4.4 to $4.1 million, the budget for the Episcopal News Service has been sharply cut from $1.382 million to $765,000, the contribution to the work of the Anglican Consultative Council has been reduced from $1.16 million to $700,000, while direct overseas grants have been cut from $1.145 million to $285,000.
However, support for the overseas work of the church reappears in other portions of the budget. Line items budgeting $227,000 for travel, $45,000 for hospitality and $549,000 in staff costs to support the Anglican overseas work of the presiding bishop appear in the new budget.
The funds set aside for the church’s legal battles have also been reduced. The Title IV budget – funds used in disciplinary proceedings – have been cut from $1.069 million in the 2010-2012 budget to $820,000 in the current budget. Litigation expenses for the battles with breakaway dioceses and congregations have also been reduced. According to the draft, $3,115,190 was spent in the last triennium on lawsuits, while only $2 million has been budgeted for the next three years.
The deputies and bishops are expected to endorse the budget in their separate sessions today and tomorrow.