The Program, Budget and Finance committee released its proposed budget for the Episcopal Church for the next three years. The combined effect of its funding decisions will be to significantly weaken the church’s relationship with the Anglican Communion.
In line 193, there is the not unexpected slashing of the support given to the Anglican Communion Office. I’ve written before about what a bad idea this is so I won’t repeat it here. Deputies have been complaining all Convention about dioceses that don’t pay the full asking to the churchwide budget. What about provinces of the Communion that don’t pay the full asking to the Communion-wide budget?
The budget also cuts more of the (very modest) funding given as support to other provinces of the Anglican Communion while maintaining or increasing the funding given to Province IX (quite dramatically) or domestic dioceses.
In budget times as tough as the church is facing right now, any new line item is worthy of particular scrutiny. In line 251, PB&F proposes funding the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (at almost half of what was cut from the Anglican Communion Office). CUAC is a fine organization. But what makes it so worthy of funding from the Episcopal Church when so many other places are being cut. My guess? CUAC has a pretty good lobbyist at General Convention and the ACO, sadly, does not.
It seems there is a very easy amendment to make to this budget to cut the new funding for CUAC in order for the church to move closer to its ACO obligations.
The budget slashes funding for the ministry of communication. Episcopal News Service is heavily cut. It looks like there’s a lot less money for web sites and the like. I find this tragic. Communication is what keeps us one body in Christ in this age of mass media. If you don’t have a good web site in this day and age, you’re nothing. Cutting this funding will only further balkanize and divide the church. (It’s instructive that on line 10 the budget dramatically reduces what it expects to earn in income from ads on the ENS web site. Perhaps if we had more reporters, more people would go to the web site, we’d get more advertisers, and the income would go up?)
The thing is, there’s plenty of “news” out there about the Episcopal Church in the form of virulent “news” outlets like Virtue Online (which was called out by Gene Robinson the other day). By choosing not to engage in this ministry, the church is ceding the discourse to organizations like Virtue Online, which are, sadly, too influential in the Anglican Communion.
Finally, it is interesting that in line 36, the budget asserts that the presiding bishop’s assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs can be eliminated (excuse me, “sunsetted”) “in light of normalized relations within the Anglican Communion.” It’s an interesting comment on where budget-planners think the state of the Anglican Communion is and perhaps explains some of these mistaken decisions.
The budget was released on the same day the House of Deputies passed resolution D008 which “commits” the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion. Just so long as we don’t have to spend money on it, it seems.
If the Episcopal Church doesn’t want to be part of the Anglican Communion, I wish it would just say it, rather than speaking out of both sides of its mouth.