Episcopal Church Center staff respond to budget cuts

Smaller triennial budget requires new ways of working

Church Center staff discerns how best to support mission, ministry

From ENS (Episcopal News Service) by Mary Frances Schjonberg

Employees of the Episcopal Church Center suggested this week that project – and team – based work with greater collaboration and better communication, all aided by increased use of technology, will help them serve the church with a smaller budget and fewer colleagues.

General Convention’s decision to approve a 2010-2012 budget in July that is $23 million smaller than the current triennial plan prompted the need to rethink the work of church center staff. The $141-million budget will mean that approximately 40 staff positions out of 192 in the Episcopal Church’s New York and regional offices will be eliminated.

The program staff of the church center gathered at the New York office in various groups September 14-16 to consider the impact of the cuts.

On September 15 Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori told the entire staff that “the depth of the financial situation caught us all off guard — all of us.”

The day before, she had acknowledged to the program staff that the cuts may have felt like “slash-and-burn agriculture.”

“It’s a pretty crude way of preparing the soil, but it does result in the ability to plant seeds and to see things emerge and be fruitful,” she said. “Our task right now is to take this prepared ground and make sure that the seeds bear fruit. We live in a spirit that says there’s always hope for that fruit. We know it. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it, we’ve seen it for years and years and years. Each and every one of us has seen it and has been part of it. Our task is to work for the harvest.”

She told the staff on September 15 that she was grateful for the very clear way General Convention focused on mission and the fact that people are “lit up and excited and on fire around the idea of mission.”

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