Contribution solicited from the church budget of $101 million 2023-2024; General Convention must also consider process changes – Episcopal News Service
[Episcopal News Service] Approving the Episcopal Church’s three-year budget is one of the primary responsibilities of General Convention, the bicameral governing body of the church. Less than four months before the meeting of bishops and deputies from July 7 to 14 during the 80and At General Convention, church leaders welcome public comment on the proposed $101 million budget.
The biggest difference with previous triennial budgets is that this budget will only cover two years. Because the pandemic forced the postponement of the 80and General Convention 2021-2022, the Executive Council previously approved a single-year budget for 2022 and is now recommending the 2023-24 budget for consideration.
The proposed biennial budget is currently being reviewed by the Standing Joint Committee on Program, Budget and Finance. The committee, which met online in October and February, is accepting written comments online until April 8. An online public hearing will be scheduled for early May, followed by an in-person committee meeting later in the month.
“We want the church to have the opportunity to give us feedback,” said the Reverend Mike Ehmer, chairman of program, budget and finance. “We guarantee that a member of our committee will give you a personal answer.”
Ehmer noted in an interview with Episcopal News Service that this budget contains a significant change in how the church would calculate the assessments that dioceses pay to support church-wide operations. In the past, dioceses were assessed at a rate of 15% of their operating revenue, with the first $140,000 of revenue being exempt. The proposed budget would increase this exemption to the first $200,000 of income.
The difference may seem insignificant for large dioceses with multimillion-dollar budgets, but “for small dioceses it’s a lot,” said Ehmer, who serves as a canon ordinarily in the Northwestern Diocese. from Texas.
The postponement of General Convention is one of the reasons the Church ended the 2019-21 triennium with a surplus of more than $15 million, of which approximately $2.5 million was transferred to the 2022 budget for cover gathering expenses this year in Baltimore, Maryland. Spending was further reduced during the pandemic due to restrictions on staff travel and in-person gatherings, and the church also received $3 million as one of many U.S. employers who qualified for using the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
Church leaders do not expect annual surpluses to continue, so they have instructed departments of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the corporate entity of the Episcopal Church, to seek ways to reduce their budgets by 5% while maintaining the Church staff at 152 employees.
On January 27, the Executive Council voted to use up to $5 million of the surplus from the last triennium to balance the proposed budget for 2023-2024 that it sent to the Joint Program, Budget and Finance Committee . The Board is still deliberating what to do with the remaining surplus, a topic it will address at its April meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The 27 Program, Budget, and Finance members are appointed by the Presiding Bishop and Speaker of the House of Deputies, with one bishop and two deputies selected from each of the Church’s nine provinces. After reviewing and soliciting comments on the budget proposal from the Executive Council, the latter will present a final draft for consideration and approval before a joint session of the 80and General agreement.
Regardless of the financial discussions, the 80and General Convention will consider resolutions that seek to simplify the church’s budgeting process while improving transparency and continuity. The plan, proposed by the Working Group on the Budget Process, would eliminate the Joint Program, Budget and Finance Committee and instead empower the Executive Council to present its budget proposal directly to General Convention.
The Executive Board would also review any actions of the General Convention that have financial implications and would then be empowered to revise the budget accordingly “so that it better reflects the priorities and actions of the General Convention”. The hope is that this would resolve situations where the General Convention approves resolutions with expenses that were not included for funding in the final budget.
The task force argued in its report that “streamlining the budget process so that one entity, broadly representative of the church, is responsible for the entire budget-making process will enable better use of human resources. and financial with less duplication of effort.This will also allow for clearer communications.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected].