From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] General Convention Approves Triennial Budget

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 07 Aug 2003 23:27:10 -0700

August 7, 2003

General Convention Approves Triennial Budget

James Thrall and David Skidmore
Episcopal News Service

Responding positively to the principle that more can be done for mission if
less is spent on administration, deputies and bishops unanimously approved
a budget of $146,395,000 for the coming triennium Thursday.

Without changing the total amount of the budget or increasing revenues, the
Joint Standing Committee for Program, Budget and Finance was able to free
$1,454,000 for specific mission initiatives highlighted during convention
by moving funds from other mission areas and finding savings in
administrative costs.

In the spirit of convention, and looking at the priorities that we
together agreed to in both our houses, our task was to find how we could
free money within our institutional life to support the mission that we
clearly say that we want to do, explained Bishop Andrew Smith of
Connecticut, who chaired the committees subsection of corporate and
canonical expenditures.

Canonical expenses cover certain required functions of the church such as
General Convention, while corporate expenses cover basic institutional
costs such as the treasurers office and building services, Smith said,
making them generally the areas that provide structural support for the

The committee is responsible for turning a proposed budget from the
Executive Council into a final budget that is presented to both houses of
the General Convention for approval. Once the committee knows what revenue
is available for the triennium, we have to juggle and switch and trade,
he said, in order to respond to resolutions seeking funding that are
approved by the convention.

To make the adjustments, we could have gone into one or another area and
ripped a whole section out, but that would have caused immense
dislocation, Smith said. Or we could have submitted a budget to
convention that was essential the same as that submitted to us before we
adopted those priorities. We chose a middle way, which was to reduce the
expenditures in canonical and corporate sections significantly.

The result creates a new challenge for church administrators and committees
to live differently in new ways so that we can devote more of our
financial resources to support the mission that we want to do, he said.

The committee was able to find $604,000 worth of reductions in the
canonical expenses and $350,000 in corporate, for about a 2 percent
transfer to the program side of the budget.

In response to a question during the budget discussion in the House of
Deputies, Smith stressed that the reductions would not affect personnel,
especially not in the financial offices that provide checks and balances on
the expenditure of church funds.
Examples of savings, he said, were $75,000 in travel, $100,000 in building
costs, and $100,000 by recovering telephone costs from related agencies.

The committee reduced canonical and corporate accounts including General
Convention and Church Center staff and operations by more than $1
million, rendering that section of the budget essentially flat, said
Hershkowitz, which will force every department to scrutinize its spending.
The good news, he said, is that the savings, $1.45 million, has been moved
into the churchs program.
The new reductions may very well prevent the commissions and committees of
this meeting from having the standard number of meetings, Smith said, but
we believe with technology and economies we can effect savings. The
reductions include a significant reduction to the amount requested for the
PB&F committee as well, noted Bonnie Anderson, committee chair.

Thomas Hershkowitz, controller and General Convention treasurer, noted that
the total remaining for corporate and canonical expenses remains at about
$25 million, the same total as the last triennium. As a result, he said,
PB&F took a hard look at budgets for committees, commissions, agencies
and boards, expecting that they would have to change the way they do
business in terms of tightening their belts a bit.

Hershkowitz said in his remarks to the bishops that in its work leading up
to convention and at meetings here, PB&F focused on adding mission dollars
to the budget in keeping with the Executive Councils priorities for young
adults and youth, reconciliation and evangelism, congregational
transformation, justice and peace, and Anglican and ecumenical partnerships.

In addition to $24,000 that was moved to the General Board of Examining
Chaplains in the canonical section, increases to program were made in four
priority areas, allocating an additional $150,000 to overseas dioceses,
$150,000 to Jubilee Ministries grants, $130,000 for multicultural and
multilingual liturgies for new populations, and $1 million for ministries
with young people, reported Byron Rushing of Massachusetts.

There were a number of resolutions passed ... that related to youth
ministry that would have added up to a lot more than a million dollars,
Rushing said. We decided that this convention should not make a decision
about specific programs being funded around youth ministry. The committee
instead left the choosing up to Executive Council working with national
staff and young people to decide what programs would be supported, he said.

With investment income reduced by a sluggish stock market and only modest
growth predicted in diocesan apportionments in the coming triennium, PB&F
had a difficult job adding funding for new mission opportunities. One
solution was to increase the draw on the churchs trust funds from the
standard 5 percent to 5.5 percent, said Herskowitz, with the understanding
that the draw would revert to the lower rate as soon as practicable.

If a surplus develops, noted Bishop Russell Jacobus of Fond du Lac, it is
used to increase spending on mission in the remaining years of the triennium.

Only one change was suggested by the bishops, and this was an editorial
change not requiring additional review and concurrence by the deputies.
Bishop Arthur Williams, vice chair of the house, asked that the line item
for black and urban ministries under ethnic congregational development be
changed by dropping and urban from the listing. The problem, he said, is
that many church members object to implying urban ministry is specific to
the African-American community.

Bonnie Anderson , the committees chair, agreed to make the change in the
final printing of the budget.

Other questions concerned the movement of funding for liturgies for new
populations from the Office for Liturgy and Music to the Congregational
Development Office and the disposition of Jubilee Ministry Center grants.
The committee felt that the resources for this work were spread throughout
the church and that the congregational development office was best equipped
and staffed to locate and organize them, said committee member Byron
Rushing of Massachusetts. As for the Jubilee Ministry grants, which were
proposed in a resolution (D061) rejected by the deputies, Rushing said the
decision would be reflected in the legislative tracking sheet accompanying
the budget.

With threats of financial fallout from actions around issues of sexuality
at the General Convention, there are still a number of uncertainties as to
what the diocesan income will look like, although at this point church
officials are making no predictions about any changes in income, said
Hershkowitz. This process is a continuous process, he said. We will take
one year at a time.

We always have budget variables, Anderson said. This will be another
variable. She explained that PB&F, which is responsible for maintaining a
balanced budget, works with the Executive Council throughout the triennium
to make any necessary adjustments.

Were going forward with the trust that people can see the larger
picture, she said. We hope theyll keep their eye on the prize, which is
really about the larger mission of the church. 

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