Executive Council approves 2022 budget and increases financial assistance to Latin American dioceses – Episcopal News Service


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry delivered an opening address on the first day of the Episcopal Church Executive Council meeting October 25-28.

[Episcopal News Service] In its first meeting with in-person participation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Episcopal Church Executive Council approved a 2022 church-wide budget that is relatively unaffected by the pandemic, keeping the course while recognizing that the years to come could bring significant changes to the church, culturally and financially.

The Executive Council, which met Oct. 25-28 in Linthicum Heights, Md., With some members joining via Zoom, celebrated the church’s perseverance during the trials of the past year and a half, while recognizing disparities and disconnections exacerbated by the pandemic within the church. Dioceses in the United States have been affected differently from non-American dioceses, and the finances of church and parish budgets have gone in opposite directions in many cases, board members said.

For the 2019-2021 triennium, there is a forecast surplus of $ 15.9 million. This reflects a number of factors unique to the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced staff travel, receiving $ 3 million in federal paycheck protection program funds and the fact that the general agreement has been postponed. By deducting the expected cost of $ 2.5 million of next year’s 80th General Convention from this surplus, the remaining $ 13.4 million will be invested in short-term investments and reserves, the president said. from the Finance Committee, Reverend Mally Lloyd.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has warned that calling it a “surplus” could be misleading, although it does create an “opportunity to do something both creative and useful for the church”. If there is a “surplus” it is not because the church is “flush” with money, but because it has cut spending during the pandemic.

“It might not be the right word,” Curry said. “We tightened our belts. In fact, we’ve lost weight, institutionally. We did everything we could to make the most of every dollar we had. “

Income from dioceses, trusts, investments and other sources remained in line with expectations, but the full impact of the pandemic in the coming year remains uncertain. The finance committee recommended a 2022 budget without “no major changes” and “no surprises,” said Lloyd, which the board approved. Membership is expected to remain relatively constant with 150 members, benefiting from 3% salary increases based on cost of living. (For comparison, the 2022 cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security payments is 5.9%.)

Looking to the future, the finance committee asked the council for input on budget priorities 2023-2024, asking members to discuss how it could be used to bridge the gap between programs at the church scale and parish level needs. This discussion was prompted in part by an opinion piece in The Atlantic written by Reverend Elizabeth Felicetti, Rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Entitled “My Church No Longer Knows What to Do,” the essay expresses the exhaustion and isolation felt by many parish clergy as the pandemic continues.

Several council members raised the possibility of restructuring membership fees to help parishes and dioceses.

“In terms of moving from individual parishes to the national church, there is growing skepticism about the parish assessment and then the diocesan assessment to the national church,” said Sarah Stonesifer Boylan, member of the council of the diocese of Washington.

To that end, Suffragan Bishop of North Carolina Anne Hodges-Copple asked, “What does it matter if we have large endowments and a balanced budget and we always close churches?

The finance committee will take into account the council’s input when developing a 2023-2024 budget to be presented to the 80th General Convention in July. The committee also considered requests from the dioceses of Province IX and Cuba for financial relief and assessment exemptions, after meeting with representatives of the dioceses in recent months.

Province IX includes seven dioceses of Latin America and the Caribbean: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Central Ecuador, Coastal Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, which voted to move to Province II, pending approval of the Convention general. At committee meetings, members reviewed the unique circumstances and challenges that each of the six remaining dioceses of Province IX have endured over the past two years, from political crises to financial instability to disasters. natural, in addition to the pandemic.

Based on the requests for assistance from the dioceses and their specific circumstances, the Finance Committee increased the pre-existing block grants to the dioceses of Province IX by varying amounts in the 2022 budget that the council approved, but the subject introduced a broader discussion on the future of the Province. IX.

Church leaders have been working with the dioceses of Province IX since 2013 to put them on the path to financial self-sufficiency, but council members reconsidered the feasibility of this goal during the meeting. Some dioceses have indicated that they will need short-term financial assistance to get back on the road to self-sufficiency.

“Province IX’s self-sufficiency program is temporarily on hold until we can have better ideas on how to move forward,” Rev. David Copley, director of the Service, told Episcopal News Service. ‘Episcopal Church for Global Partnerships and Mission Staff. “As COVID-19 is affecting the dioceses of Province IX in different ways, we must re-evaluate before deciding on the next steps. “

Council member Lloyd Allen of Honduras thanked the governing body “on behalf of the six dioceses with which the finance committee has met,” adding that they felt heard.

“I want to express our gratitude for this situation, for the support,” Allen said. “It’s a sad feeling to know that we have to go back on what we had planned for the future and how we used to do things. … But we’re just asking for a little time to get back together and continue to make a difference and share the word of God.

The Episcopal Church of Cuba – which is in Province II – has also asked for help. After more than half a century of deviation, the Episcopal Church of Cuba officially returned to the Episcopal Church as a diocese in March 2020, just before the pandemic lockdowns took effect. She, too, has been hit hard by the pandemic and social upheaval.

Discussions for financial assistance for the Diocese of Haiti, also in Province II, are in their early stages, Lloyd said. The country has been beset by cascading political, health and social crises over the past year, including another devastating earthquake. The Council adopted a resolution expressing its support for the people of Haiti and for the new Commission for the Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which includes Reverend Frantz Joseph Casseus, priest of the Diocese of Haiti, the largest diocese by membership at the Episcopal Church.

In other cases, the council has also approved a resolution condemning the Anglican Church of Ghana’s House of Bishops for approving a “draconian” anti-LGBTQ + bill. The proposal would impose a sentence of up to five years in prison for identifying as LGBTQ + and up to 10 years for defending the rights of LGBTQ + people, according to Reuters.

The resolution “reaffirms the Episcopal Church’s commitment to people of all genders and sexual orientations and calls on the Ghanaian House of Bishops to reconsider its approval of this anti-LGBTQ legislation,” said Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson.

The Council also adopted a resolution expressing a message of support to the Sudanese people, where military leaders overthrew the government in a coup on October 25.

Earlier in the meeting, continuing the church’s efforts to further educate Episcopalians about the doctrine of discovery and the prejudices perpetrated against Indigenous peoples by government and institutions, including the Episcopal Church, the council heard the ad hoc committee on residential schools. The committee is working to address the involvement of the Episcopal Church in residential schools that separated Native American children from their families and, in many cases, attempted to eradicate their culture and language. Indigenous leaders discussed the diverse residential school experience and a recent Episcopalian-supported effort to repatriate the remains of residential school students from school grounds to their tribal lands.

The next Executive Council meeting is scheduled for January 24-27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio.

– Egan Millard is associate editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected]

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