Bishops support increasing MDG commitment to 1 percent

July 8, 2009

The 0.7 figure that has adorned Episcopal Church buttons and bumper stickers for the past three years would change to a single digit of 1 according to a resolution passed by the House of Bishops on July 9.

If also approved by the House of Deputies, Resolution D019 would allot 1 percent of the church's non-government revenue -- up from 0.7 percent -- to support the Millennium Development Goals, with hopes of raising $5 million to the international fight against malaria.

The draft budget for the upcoming triennium, 2010-2012, does not include a 0.7 percent line item for MDGs. The resolution reinstates the line item with the 1 percent "cost-of-giving" increase.

Bishop Robert O'Neill of Colorado began an extended discussion and slight revision of the resolution, saying the 0.7 percent campaign's success of raising $3 million over the last triennium is proof that an increased commitment is in order.

He said the 0.7 percent commitment "has been the proverbial mustard seed planted in a way that has challenged individual parishes and dioceses across our church to think and act globally. It's become a way of framing our mission collectively in a way that makes sense to and captured the hearts of our young people across the church.

"That $3 million raised out of $1 million has tangibly revealed our explicit and sacrificial commitment to the global healing and reconciliation and restoration that is the essence of our participation in God's mission."

Bishop Jim Adams of Western Kansas said he agreed, but expressed concern for those churches that might not be able to keep up.

"This really caught the imagination of many of my small churches in Western Kansas," Adams said. "They really got behind it and they put that .7 percent in their budgets. They won't be able to do 1 percent. They barely did .7. And they're going to feel like they failed somehow.

"I just want to caution us as we go ahead with this that sometimes we get people going, and then in our eagerness to get more, we lose."

Bishops ultimately agreed that increasing the church's MDG commitment makes an important statement about the church's mission.

James Mathes of San Diego said the increase "is really about leadership. What we're trying to do here as The Episcopal Church is to say that the Millennium Development Goals is a way that we lead as a church."