The proposed budget for the Episcopal Church for 2007-2009 totals almost $152 million. Deputies, bishops and anyone else at General Convention will have three chances to comment and make requests before that budget is adopted.
The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance has scheduled three public hearings. The first, on June 12, the day before legislative sessions begin, will focus on “mission priorities.” According to Pan Adams, committee chair, the budget is based on the five mission priorities set by the 2003 General Convention:
- young adults and youth
- congregational development
- reconciliation and evangelism
- peace and justice ministries
- partnerships within the Anglican Communion and with other faith communities.
These priorities could be altered after that hearing. The proposed $151,986,107 budget is 7 percent -- almost $10 million -- higher than the current triennial budget. It includes an annual salary increase of 2 percent, on average, for the 235 employees at the Episcopal Church Center in New York and an 8 percent increase to cover health insurance.
A proposed increase of $550,000 for the Anglican Consultative Council at its request would increase giving to the ACC to $2.35 million over the three years. That amounts to just under one-third of the ACC’s total “core budget.” According to the Anglican Communion Office, the ACC budget for 2006 is $2,445,946.
This requested hike in payment raised questions at the last Executive Council meeting. It is likely to cause controversy in Columbus, as well. The ACC’s insistence last year that U.S. and Canadian representatives give up their seats and votes continues to rankle many.
The Diocese of Newark submitted a resolution asking that the $550,000 be “held in escrow until such time that the ACC members from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are reinstated as full members with seat, voice and vote.” The Newark resolution also wants assurance that U.S. bishops “will be invited to attend as full and equal participants at the Lambeth Conference” in 2008.
Other proposed increases would go to:
- The 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, the addition of a digital content manager for the archives and support for more research churchwide;
- Increases in Jubilee grants for parish social action;
- Increased spending for Asia and Pacific programs, for 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. (So far, this time, the cost totals $492,500, not counting the expense of refurbishing the penthouse residence at the church center, according to church Treasurer Kurt Barnes.); and
- Repayment of a line of credit taken to finance asbestos abatement and other renovations due to 40 years of deferred maintenance at the church center.
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 $112,000 for work in Appalachia, $108,000 for the historic black colleges, $180,000 for the covenant with Liberia and $136,000 for domestic mission partners -- be reduced to help fund the additional contribution to the ACC.
Where the money comes from
The increase in the proposed budget will be funded largely from additional giving by dioceses. Barnes projects an increase of 2.5 percent in diocesan contributions 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.
Of the 100 domestic dioceses within the Episcopal Church, 45 are giving at or above the 21 percent level, 28 give between 10 and 20 percent, 16 give under 10 percent, and 11 did not provide sufficient data to determine their level of giving.
The dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi both met the 21 percent asking in 2005, according to PB&F chair Adams, despite the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Contributions from dioceses will make up the largest portion of income to the church budget -- 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 church center. Renovations will create two and a half floors to be leased to rent-paying tenants. The income, projected at $2.2 million over three years, will help offset annual debt payments on the $34 million renovation project.
The proposed budget, built collaboratively by church center staff and Executive Council, will be open to public discussion at two final hearings on June 14 and June 15. The budget numbers themselves can change as a result of input during the hearings. The budget with any revisions 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