Episcopal budget process: ‘Irresponsible … unpastoral … scandalous’

At the most recent General Convention in Anaheim, as the Episcopal Church passed resolutions that affirmed that policy of allowing all persons full access to the ordination process, including that of bishops, the almost unnoticed story was the conflict surrounding the creation of the triennial budget. Recently Province III of the Episcopal Church meeting passed a resolution highly critical of the way the budget was put together. Executive Council has responded to the resolution by promising to have a conversation about these concerns based on an ongoing review of Church Center policies.

The details are posted on the Diocese of Bethlehem’s news pages. (Bethlehem is one of the dioceses of Province III.)

“A resolution that passed a few months ago, at the Province III Synod 2010, April 26, had registered ‘deep concern and distress to Executive Council [of the Episcopal Church] with the method and presentation of the Triennial Budget at the General Convention at Anaheim, California, in July 2009 and the manner in which staff was released during Convention.’ 

An accompanying explanation noted that ‘the fact that the draft budget presented in April was reduced by 23% and not presented to the House of Deputies until the finished budget was brought to the floor bordered on the irresponsible. The manner of the release of Episcopal Church Center Staff during the Convention itself was at best unpastoral and at the worst scandalous.’

In a July 9 note to ‘Bishops, Council Members and Friends’ of Province III, province coordinator Barbara Seras shared a June 30 response to the resolution from Winnie Varghese, chair of the Executive Council Networking and Advocacy Committee.

‘I want to first reassure you that many share the feelings expressed in the resolution,’ Varghese wrote. ‘I also want to let you know what steps are being taken the The Executive Council to insure that we insure a working environment for Church Center staff consistent with our expressed values. We are in the process, through the Governance and Administration for Ministry committee of Council, of reviewing personnel and contracting policies at The Church Center. That work should be reported out at the next meeting, which will set the stage for the next steps. In preparation for that meeting, in October in Salt Lake City, I will ask the chairs of the other committees if they would join me in a conversation about the continuing role of Council in oversight of policies governing The Church Center or if they feel these issues are being addressed by work they are doing. I don’t actually know what other work will be concluded at that point, and what will be left to do, so I’m not sure what will come of that conversation, but I think it is the next step.'”

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