Forma is thankful to be listed into the preliminary budget for $100,000 in the next triennium, recognizing that this is in response to the consistent work we have done supporting, advocating, resourcing and celebrating Christian formation in our churches, diocese, and other settings. We are also thankful for the challenging and difficult work engaged by The Executive Council as they prepared this draft budget
Forma has a strong partnership with TEC Formation and Vocation Office with a Liason at all Board meetings to make sure both groups are supporting each other as much as possible. We know that lifelong formation is a primary vocation of Christian discipleship and believe that The Episcopal Church is best enabled to support lifelong formation when we have a healthy balance of both the Formation and Vocation Office, accountable to the leadership of the Church and a grassroots mutuality based organization, like Forma. Both of these working together serve the needs of the church best when working together with adequate funding and staffing.
We understand the growing voice to keep more funding at the local level and we applaud the desire to have increased funding for formation at the congregational and diocesan level. We are also concerned with the reality of those congregations and dioceses that do not have the level of expertise needed at the local level to engage the work of formation. The Episcopal Church Formation and Vocations Office is engaging communities that Forma does not yet engage and is serving necessary roles in convening groups across the church. While Forma resources consistently engage the Christian formation networks of the church and invite collaborative network creation across The Episcopal Church and beyond, we rely on a healthy and staffed office of The Church Center to engage with us to extend both of our reaches and more deeply serve the varied needs of The Episcopal Church.
Presently, our board and membership serve the organization on a voluntary basis, with many board representatives who depend heavily on large churches and dioceses with fiscal resources available to their paid formation staff. The very intentional networking that the Formation and Vocations office is able to do is key to reaching communities that are new or currently unreached by Forma. Forma can best succeed with the partnership of a well staffed Formation and Vocations office that is constantly expanding an intentional networked Christian formation community into all corners of The Episcopal Church and the repeated budget cuts to this office do not appear to reflect the stated priorities of the church to “teach, preach and baptize new believers”. We desire adequate funding for both the Formation and Vocations Office and Forma; and we desire the innovative funding, ideally $150,000, for Forma to be taken from an area other than the budget of the Formation and Vocations Office.
We also challenge the statement made in the draft budget, line 68 “Events & Gatherings” that “Full funding retained for youth, young adults, Episcopal Youth Event and campus ministries” and believe this statement to be an inaccurate representation. Currently that supports four events for youth and young adults; the Episcopal Youth Event and three annual young adult events. The Episcopal Youth Event currently costs more than $1,000,000, which represents a significant decrease from the costs of previous events, and while more than half of that is recouped through registration costs, $500,000 is still needed in order to back the event.
Thank you for your consideration and for working with us. At Forma we believe that Christian Formation does not just form people, but forms the church of today and what the church will be tomorrow.
The Forma Board