Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the tag “budget”

Sine die

The 77th General Convention has now concluded and those who attended this “family reunion” and “legislative mega-meeting” are home still catching up on sleep and resting weary feet. Although with the gavel concluding the last session of the House of Deputies with sine die, we know the work is never truly completed, but to simply be continued on another day.

The Education Committee (a cognate group of 28 individuals from the House of Bishops and House of Deputies) met almost daily to deliberate on numerous resolutions that came before them. Under the leadership of Porter Taylor (Bishop, Western North Carolina) and Debbie Stokes (Deputy, Southern Ohio), each member of the committee engaged in conversation as well as questioning the numerous of individuals (many from Forma) who testified to various resolutions, including many that have been brought forward on Building the Continuum.

A re-cap of resolutions regarding Christian Formation that have been discussed on this site:

Equipping the Baptized Five resolutions (A041, A042, A043, A044, A045) were related to bringing the Constitution or Canons into conformity with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer, which teaches that “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (BCP p. 299). These resolutions, discussed as a whole, received passionate testimony from those “pro” and those “con.” Many who were against these resolutions felt it they would remove the Rite of Confirmation from our churches. Those who spoke for the resolutions were articulate about our understanding of Baptism as full membership in the church. In committee, deputies were much more open to making changes in the canons, while bishops were not. It became quite apparent that The Episcopal Church needs to further explore and delve into what Confirmation means on all levels of the church. It was also apparent that the practice of preparation for Confirmation differs widely in the church and the preparation used for leaders (such as Vestry) into the history, doctrine and polity of The Episcopal Church is just as nebulous. Despite these resolutions not passing (being rejected in Committee) they were discussed in both Houses, allowing for the first of what will be hopefully many conversations to continue in the next triennium about what the role of Confirmation is in the life of our church. A042, A043 and A044 were sent back for further study to the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. A041 was rejected.

Commend Continued Development of Lifelong Christian Formation (A046) included recognition for Forma (language was changed to reflect the name change of NAECED). It was adopted by the House of Deputies and concurred by the House of Bishops. Another words, General Convention commends the continuing development of lifelong Christian formation and supports those in leadership positions to continue their learning! It was

Develop An Electronic Community (A047) passed the Education Committee easily after discussion and learning of several other similar resolutions – one that was being discussed in Ministry Development and another in Communications. This particular resolution called for an impartial Christian FORMATION hub linking the many resources that are available all in one location. However, when it arrived at the House of Deputies, a deputy of the Structure Committee immediately called that it be tabled as it had funding implications (and a budget had yet to be produced) as well as the undercurrent themes of desiring structural changes in the church throughout convention. This resolution seems to have been left on the table with no action taken.

A Response to the Call of The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation: A Call to Action (A151) regarding Older Adult ministries was approved in the Education Committee but failed in the House of Deputies.

The Budget!!!! This was perhaps the highest area of energy folks had going in to General Convention (besides changing the structure of the church). We entered into General Convention with two proposed budgets – one from Executive Council which had almost eliminated the Office of Christian Formation and Vocations line items. A new proposal from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was offered (an unheard of occurrence) that was based on the Five Marks of Mission. Numerous Christian formation leaders attended the three hearings scheduled by Program, Budget & Finance; many spoke (Barbara Ross, Vicki Garvey and Wendy Barrie notably) about the importance of lifelong Christian formation. Many youth and young adults also spoke to the importance of EYE, campus ministries and chaplaincies.

A new resolution came before the Education Committee (D037) which called for some funding to be added back into the budget. In its wisdom, the committee rewrote the resolution, adding enough monies to completely fund the Office of Formation and Vocation as it had been in the past triennium. When it came to the floor of the House of Deputies (House of initial action), members of the Education Committee were lined up at the podiums ready to speak. Debbi Rodahafer (Diocese of Kentucky) called the question and it was overwhelmingly approved. The House of Bishops concurred. All was left in the hands of Program, Budget & Finance . . . who brought forth a budget grounded in the Five Marks of Mission, including block grants for eradicating poverty, mission enterprise zones, planting new churches and projects that are collaborative in nature. Specifically for the issues addressed on this website:

Mark #2: Teach, baptize and nurture new believers

Goal: To strengthen Province IX for sustainability in Latin America – $1,000,000

The Office of Lifelong Christian Formation & Vocations – Total $2,875,394 (slightly less than the 2010-2012 budget).

  • Bridging the Gap – funds for lifelong Christian formation to include evangelism & formation as vocation and faith formation resource development – $250,767
  • Formation & Vocation – for networks – building the capacity by affirming and assisting emerging networks and increasing connectivity – $310,447
  • Campus Ministry grants – $300,000
  • Events & gatherings – including EYE, Young Adult Festival and student gatherings – $609,167
  • Other department costs – including travel for staff – $176,400
  • Staff costs – salaries and benefits – $1,247,764

Other funding in this area included the College of Bishops which provides formation to those newly elected to the Episcopate. View the entire 2013-2015 budget here. View a posting of the importance of educators begin advocates at Rows of Sharon.

General Convention is over – but the ministry continues! 

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Campus Ministry: Talking Points

from the networks involving Episcopal Campus Ministries and Chaplains

Starting from a “zero base,” we consider the following support from The Episcopal Church’s budget to be vital:

  • A budget sufficient for a staff person whose responsibility is visioning, advocacy, and coordination for campus ministry throughout the Episcopal Church.
  • The resources (financial and technical) to know as much as possible what our several campus ministries in all of their variety are at any given time, and to maintain contact information available to that staff person, to one another, and to students who are seeking connection with our campus ministries.
  • The resources necessary to work with campus ministries “on the ground” on at least a provincial level, on issues of evangelism, creative liturgy, and best practices.
  • The resources necessary to organize an annual conference for Episcopal campus ministers, with meaningful programming.
  • The resources, information, and background necessary to offer training to new campus ministers at such a conference.
  • The resources necessary for provincial coordinators to consult together and to offer annual gatherings of both chaplains and students at a provincial or regional level. Dioceses should of course participate with funding and resources for this as well.
  • Funding for campus ministry start ups.  We would suggest that dioceses should commit funding for a period of years as a condition of receiving this money.

Why is Campus Ministry important to the life of young adults as well as the future of the Church? Read “A National Study of Collge Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose” from Spirituality in Higher Education from UCLA.

Download a pdf of these Talking Points to share with your bishops and deputies as they prepare to attend General Convention.

Identify yourself and your ministry – share your story!  

Seeds for New Life

by Genelda Woggon

Two seven year old girls miles, worlds and cultures apart bonded together through mutual delight in The Seed of God booklets brought to Bogata, Colombia by a family from Asheville, NC on a family vacation with a mission purpose in mind. Young souls nurtured in the giving and receiving of gifts.  Gifts to be enjoyed and explored together as potentially lasting friendships are formed. Friendships with each other and mutual friendships with the Good Shepherd whose story they read, each in their own language but on the same page. Being “on the same page” is but one step closer to building relationships for understanding that is foundational to world peace.

This is but one story of how these bi-lingual books are being used by the staff at the Episcopal Church Center in their partnership with private funding brings new life and joy to both those who give and those who receive.

Through the generosity of St Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation, Inc. in Salisbury, North Carolina, a Foreign Mission grant was made available to the Episcopal Church Center for the distribution of the English/Spanish edition of The Seed of God books to be used primarily with mission work in the dioceses of Province IX and other foreign mission places where the opportunity arises.  The fact that the books are best delivered by hand creates further opportunities for partnerships.

Certainly most of the books are distributed evenly to each of the dioceses by ECC staff, especially as Ruth Ann Collins, Staff Officer from the Office of Life Long Christian Formation visits these dioceses, attends regional gatherings and gives workshops at Christian Formation gatherings.  Other books are transported beyond Province IX by a variety of people from local Episcopal churches. This opens up greater possibilities of partnerships as the books become transported by folks traveling with their Companion Diocese, taking family vacations for Spanish Language immersion, or involved with a humanitarian type mission project.

Publishing by the Center for Children and Theology, these charming little booklets (in English and Spanish) are also being used with adults as well as with children.  The simple language and beautiful illustrations offers the Gospel in a nutshell as they invite hungry hearts to enter into the Good Shepherd’s love.

If the budget of the Office of Christian Formation and Vocations is removed, how will such partnerships continue and these types of connections be made?  

Genelda Woggon is the author of The Seed of God and lives with her husband, a retired priest, in Asheville, North Carolina. She is a trained catechist with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Supporting Episcopal Campus Ministries

by Reid Hamilton

Why should The Episcopal Church’s budget support Episcopal Campus Ministries? Here are some particular reasons:

The annual Episcopal Campus Ministers’ Conference is a vital opportunity for people who are engaged in campus ministry for continuing education in a highly specialized field of ministry, to exchange ideas and consider best practices, and to offer encouragement and support to one another, as well as to share creative liturgy and music.  Our ministries are highly diverse in context (public universities, private colleges, campuses large and small, urban and rural, residential and commuter), in approach (including free-standing missions, parish-based campus ministries, and independent student organizations), and in staffing (full-time priests, lay chaplains, interns, volunteers and students).  All of us benefit from the mutual support and encouragement that the Conference provides.

The Conference features an annual orientation for new campus ministers.  There are always many new campus ministers every year – partly because campus ministry in generally underfunded, so turnover is high.  The chance for new campus ministers to be in contact with those of us who have experience in the job helps them build effective boards, develop helpful fundraising practices, and move quickly to effective worship, programming, and recruiting techniques.  New campus ministers need to know that they are not alone, and that they need not re-invent the wheel.

Church-wide level funding helps to maintain provincial level programming.  Provincial conferences of chaplains provide an additional layer of networking and support, and annual gatherings for students help build energy for the involvement of young adults in the Church.  College students who are considering vocations to ordained ministry are especially inclined to attend such gatherings, which not only affords mutual support but also an opportunity to engage with chaplains from other ministries and encounter different communities.  Networking at provincial gatherings also encourages young adult participation in General Convention.

In the current proposed triennial budget how will staffing and resources for church-wide and provincial level conferences, networking, training, and support continue to be available?

Reid Hamilton is a Campus Minister at the University of Michigan and active in the Province V Campus Ministry Network. 

An Official Statement on the Budget

by The Right Reverend Stephen Lane

At last week’s Province I Synod Pre-Convention meeting, I presented the draft proposed budget for 2013-2015. Present with me were Province I’s Executive Council members, members of Program, Budget and Finance, PB&F Chair Diane Pollard, the President of the House of Deputies, the Secretary of General Convention, and Del Glover, Chair of Executive Council’s subcommittee on finance. In the course of my presentation and the subsequent question and answer period, it became clear that there are a some internal inconsistencies and at least one error in the draft proposed budget.

The draft proposed budget is balanced at $104.9 million. However, there is an internal inconsistency related to the Development Office. The amount proposed as income for the Development Office is $3.7 million and the amount proposed for expense is $2.5 million. If the two numbers are brought into alignment, either by decreasing income or increasing expense, then the budget will be unbalanced by about $1.2 million.

There is also an apparent inconsistency in the sum of the amounts proposed for Grants and Covenants. The total listed is $15 million. Adding the internal line items results in a sum of something less. When I do the math it’s about $14 million, but it’s not clear at this time if the active spreadsheet would correct this seeming error in the pdf copy of the draft proposed budget.

Finally, the amount of $286,438 for Formation and Vocation is an error. Although Executive Council was clearly reducing the amount for this part of the budget, the actual number was lost in the complex process of combining the 15% and 19% cases the Executive Council used to build the draft proposed budget. The budget was adopted and Executive Council adjourned before the error was discovered. Questions have been asked regarding what the “real” number might have been. Council members at the Province I Synod suggested something in the range of $1.9 million. Other knowledgeable persons suggested $1 million. PB&F will need to address this matter at General Convention. Restoring funds to Formation and Vocation will require taking funds from other places.

Diane Pollard and I are both very aware of the concern many have about errors in the draft budget. However, we want to emphasize that this is the Draft Proposed Budget that was submitted by Executive Council in January to the Joint Standing Committee on Program Budget and Finance.  This draft budget cannot be changed until the General Convention meets in Indianapolis in July.  In July the budget will be changed not only to reflect the numerical corrections, but it will also be changed to reflect General Convention Committee decisions, hearing discussions and other input that has and is being received.

We encourage your participation in the Provincial Synod meetings that are being conducted at this time as well as the hearings at General Convention, the House of Deputies online forum, and our blogspot. Thank you to all for your continued support.

Steve Lane and Diane Pollard
Program, Budget & Finance (PB&F)

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane is bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. This letter first appeared on a list-serve reserved for bishops and deputies to discuss matters of General Convention on April 17, 2012. It is shared here with Bishop Lane’s permission. 

Be the Revolution. Make Your Stories Heard.

by Janie Simonton

Welcome to EpiscoYouthProject 2012, designed to collect stories from everyone concerned about the budget changes for youth and young adults in the Episcopal Church. These changes, which will result in an approximately 90% funding cut for these ministries, have not been approved yet (more information here), which is where we come into play.

Our goal is to make voices heard, quite literally, by uploading personal stories and reasons why we disagree with the allocation of funds (or lack thereof) for youth. Please feel free to upload your own personal story (preferably less than a minute) explaining who you are, why this is important to you, and why you don’t think this proposed budget should come to fruition. While we recognize that there are those who may be viewing this that are in support of the youth funding cut, we ask that they refrain from uploading personal videos here and instead post it elsewhere.

Thank you and happy uploading!

From Building the Continuum: While this is a youth (ages 13-18) & young adult (ages 18-35) project, wouldn’t it be interesting to have children and Christian educators post their own stories? 

 Janie Simonton, a young adult in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, began the “EpiscoYouthProject 2012” on You Tube, with a Facebook page in April 2012. 

More Reflections on the Budget

Budget

Budget (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

The Report to the 77th General Convention, aka “Blue” Book (it’s going to be a salmon color this time) will soon be released that will contain all the resolutions that have been submitted from Commissions, Agencies and Boards for this triennium.  Provincial Synods will be gathering over the next few months (Province I just met this week) to discuss resolutions and the budget.

Currently on the House of Deputies Online Forum, is “The Budget and the Budget Process.” You can follow the discussion – if you’re a deputy, you can post a question; if you have a question, pass it along to deputy to post. Here is the ‘white paper’ that explains the budget. This forum will continue through April 22.

Over the past few days, several more people have shared their thoughts and reflections about the proposed budget that will be presented at General Convention in July. Some great ideas have been presented. Read more here:

Susan Brown Snook, a deputy from Arizona has written several posts on her blog, A Good and Joyful Thing. Her first post, Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce and Short-Term Solutions to Long-Term Problems offered an assessment of the budget with the eye of a CPA. A sampling regarding what she believes the budget will accomplish in the short term:

Avoid making major shifts.  The Christian Formation office was cut under the rationale that such things are better done at the local level.  I don’t agree, because I think it is tremendously short-sighted for a church that is suffering from failure to form new disciples (especially among the young), and from aging demographics, to cut youth and college programming.  Strategic vision for the future would require increased, not decreased, resources for youth/young adult ministries, at all levels.  True, this is a ministry that is essentially done at the local level – but we can’t simply remove all its churchwide supports and expect it to thrive on its own without strategic work to make sure other structures are in place to support it.  

But that’s my argument; you can disagree.  Here’s the point: if we cut Christian Formation in this budget, we are making a huge long-term decision based on narrow short-term thinking.   Read more…

Keeping Easter Alive

by Kaze Gadaway

Five Native young adults from eighteen to twenty-one walk somberly up the aisle to receive the sacrament. Their hands hang comfortably by their sides and they proceed confidently to kneel at the front of the altar. They act like they belong. “This is so awesome,” one of the youth whisper. “Everyone here treats us like we should be here.”

Learn about the journey of how these youth became welcome and incorporated into the church as described in Kaze’s article posted in the Daily Episcopalian on Episcopal Cafe.  

Now we have forty two Native youth who want to be a part of something larger than small town dreams. There seems to be a lot of complaints from local parishes that they are losing members and yet are not willing to spend the personal effort it takes to develop spirituality in youth.With the trend of cutting off national programs and leaving youth formation to dioceses, I am afraid of what is going to happen to these youth when I retire in one year and six months. Dioceses don’t have extra money for youth programs. And new youth programs will not be generated simply because they are not being supplied from somewhere else. In talking with other youth ministers we realize that many do not appreciate how influential National programs have been for youth in all ethnic groups.I am guessing that with the present direction of the Church I will have to create the plan to provide spiritual formation for these youth when I leave.The difficulty is that I have been a volunteer for almost twelve years who had the time to establish the relationships needed for this ethnic group. Since we are not on the diocesan budget, all funds have to be raised slowly through grants, family and friends. Since we are isolated in Northern Arizona in a town of 5,000 people and with no local priest, we drive long distances for Church services or for relevant youth activities or even traditional Native ceremonies. Something new has to come into being.

I don’t know what is going to happen to other youth groups who will be vulnerable by this change. If they are from rich white Churches who have the money to have programs, they will endure for a while. If they are ethnic groups in isolated situations, I fear they will die out. Without programs that push the young ones to think Globally and not be stuck in the local situation, only those with financial resources will be able to get beyond their village.

My prayer is that there will continue to be enough people in the Church who care about the youth that they will help with creative approaches to keep youth formation alive in one fashion or another.

I pray that Easter may continue to be a reality in their lives.

Kaze Gadway has worked with the emerging leaders of the Episcopal Church within the Native American community of Northern Arizona as a volunteer for eleven years. They are youth of promise from ages twelve to twenty-four. The Spirit Journey Youth is an outreach program of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona with forty young people. She is on Facebook and blogs at in faith’s posterous. This article is reposted in part with permission from Episcopal Cafe. 

Finding Peace in God at the Center of the Storm

by Lisa Kimball

By now most of you have become aware of the Executive Council’s proposed budget for the 2013-2015 Episcopal Church triennium, which reduces the Christian formation and vocations line item (all things children, youth, young adult, adult and older adult) from $3 million to $286,000. This 90 percent cut is explained as devolution or subsidiarization – the theory that in this extended season of economic strain, Christian formation is most effectively delivered and sustained at a more local level – province, diocese, or congregation.

Church-wide program cuts were anticipated in response to the continuing precipitous decline in membership and commensurate diminished voluntary giving by dioceses (optimistically estimated at 19 percent of diocesan budgets). The proposed budget virtually eliminates denominational staffing, resources, and programming for Christian formation. To make matters worse, the parish and diocesan structures from which Christian formation leadership is intended to devolve are themselves under severe stress. The aggregate number of staff layoffs far exceeds new hires as congregations and dioceses undergo “restructuring.”

It is no wonder the budget news has sparked a firestorm of indignation and protest. People are talking, blogging, organizing, petitioning and, yes, even praying! Perhaps this is not all bad. Oscar Wilde once said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” and then there’s always the popular (if debatable) adage, “any publicity is good publicity.” Christian formation is certainly getting press.

While there is much amiss with the process and priorities revealed in the proposed budget, the outcome may yet be holy (see the blog by Thomas Ferguson, Bexley Hall Seminary Dean, Crusty Old Dean). After over 30 years of hard, intentional work surrounding the baptismal covenant (inspired by the liturgical revisions of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer), the language and practices of faith formation across the life span are beginning to take hold. Read more…

Ministry with Children in The Episcopal Church

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
College Station, Texas

A story of faith, passion and wonder ….

by Robyn Szoke

In February of this year, C. Kirk Hadaway, the Staff Officer for Congregational Research and Diocesan and Congregational Ministries, presented some statistics to Executive Council. From 2004 to 2010, Church School enrollment in Episcopal congregations has declined by 33 percent. The number of child baptisms in Episcopal congregations has declined by 36 percent. Moreover, the Episcopal Church’s average Sunday attendance has fallen by 17 percent, while membership declined by 13 percent.

To begin to respond to these changes, it might be helpful to remember the hopes, the dreams, and the passion that the Episcopal Church had for children’s ministry and formation and, indeed, lifelong formation between 1985 and 2009.  Those years were an amazing time. They were alive with vision, ideas, and a commitment to the cultivation of formation – particularly children’s formation and formation within the household.

Looking back, it seems that the theology of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer helped to launch a grassroots mission movement for advocacy with and ministry to (and for and by) children. By 1990, this mission movement had really taken hold. That year, the Episcopal Church Center’s Office of Children’s Ministries began to gather children’s ministry specialists from around the nation. Their mission was to engage in deeper conversations about how best to serve children, including how best to fully include them in our worship communities and the prophetic notion of listening and hearing their voice.

The result of these conversations was that the Office of Children’s Ministries, along with 22 dioceses from all of the Episcopal Church’s provinces, developed and published a most amazing document: the Children’s Charter for the Episcopal Church. (In Spanish) Adopted by General Convention resolution 1997-B005, it provided a model – a standard of excellence – and accountability for congregational, diocesan, and provincial leadership.

Fueled by the publication of the Children’s Charter, the mission movement flourished. Design teams were created. Through the wisdom and hard work of provincial formation leaders, events were held, Charting a Course for Children in the Church which led to strengthening partnerships with the National Council of Churches and the Children’s Defense Fund. Through these teams and partnerships, we were able to hold events, gatherings, and conferences to advocate for children. In addition, a wonderful mission magazine was developed. Called Treasure Magazine, it was designed so that children ages 6 to 9 could read and learn about mission throughout the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.  At the same time the youth ministry office and young adult ministry office was also flourishing. Read more…

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