Thursday, August 6, 2009

Episcopal Church cuts positions & programs, but budgets millions for the agenda of a small elite

Greg Griffith at Stand Firm posted this email that went out to "Episcopal Communicators" (meaning its distribution to people in the pews will be tightly controlled, generally at the Diocesan level):

The Episcopal ChurchOffice of Public Affairs
The Episcopal Church Center feels the effects of the new budget
[August 5, 2009]

The Episcopal Church Center has begun the process of implementing the staff reductions and program changes necessitated by the General Convention’s triennial budget. The $141 million budget for 2010-2012 adopted by General Convention calls for cuts in most areas and results in staff reductions across program, canonical and corporate areas. Approximately 40 staff positions are being eliminated or will have hours reduced, affecting some 35 current employees. Staff members are being provided with resources and assistance, including outplacement services, and are being counseled individually regarding severance benefits. As individual circumstances differ, managers are conferring with each affected staff member to determine departure dates, between now and the end of the year.

In addition to layoffs, General Convention 2009 reduced most departmental budgets. The implications of these reductions are beginning to be analyzed. The Rev. Margaret Rose, director of the Mission Leadership Center, is convening a group that is considering how to reconfigure the program area. Another group will be considering how to foster internal collaboration with an eye to more focus on team and project-based work.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has challenged the staff to “rediscover the creative ability to innovate” as the budgetary realities are implemented. Questions of “what work will be done?” and “how will that work be accomplished” will be examined. It is hoped that this time of great change and challenge will also be a time of reinventing and rebuilding.


Some thoughts:

  1. The Episcopal Church was not set up to be run from a central, national office. "Reinventing and rebuilding," if they are to take place, will be in local congregations and maybe some well organized dioceses... if any are allowed to remain.

  2. There's still no substantial answer to "How much money is budgeted for lawsuits?" We know it is at least $4 million - but the details have to be teased out of budgets and the subsidized elites don't want to do that.

  3. A Presiding Bishop with no significant organizational leadership experience was brought into a crisis situation. She has been doing what inexperienced people do when in over their heads: forcing things into a model she knows. She is attempting to run TEC like a small church or program, in which one person has absolute say and layers of responsibility and accountability are eliminated. So, the church continues to decline, its core problems go unaddressed, but there is a spare-no-expense effort to assert newly imagined titles, powers and authority in her position.

  4. For all the talk of a "new thing of the Spirit" and "progressive victory," we now have a church more centralized, authoritarian and elitist than it's ever been. General Convention "democracy" is a sham - a lot of people are busied with more resolutions (around 500) than they can possibly digest while a few people work an agenda around a handful of significant changes that serve the elite.

  5. The acclaimed "diversity" of the church is destroyed by this model. A national church with a light touch allowed for "bonds of affection" connecting a diverse range of views - an aggressively centralized agenda creates an in group and renders dissenters "out."

  6. Not sure why I'm bothering to type this, since most folks in the pews will hear and accept the lie that "It's just the bad economy - the church is really doing well!" The Episcopal Church is not doing well. Hope a few folks out there get the news, because local churches are totally expendable in this new model. We are salary, travel junket and pension fodder for one generation of elitists who are not looking out for the future of the church.


Anonymous said...

The people will buy it until Obama declares the recession over and then sees the continued decline of TEC.

Ed Monk+

Restless Heart said...

The headline is a wonderfully succinct description of TEC economics. Well done!

TLF+ said...

Restless Heart - I think what Ed says in jest has some reality... the people in the pews just won't buy the truth, and by the time they do there won't be much to do about it.