Without much surprise, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention today passed its budget for the next three years. And, as presented on Tuesday, the budget sharply cuts funding for the church’s connection to the Anglican Communion.
While I find the decision disappointing—as I have noted here and here—it was not surprising. What was heartening was that the cuts to funding the Anglican Communion Office were so notably criticized on the floor of the House of Deputies. (I missed the budget debate in the House of Bishops.) I heard one delegate make the point I have made before, namely that how can we expect dioceses to give the full asking to the churchwide budget, when the church doesn’t give the full asking to the Anglican Communion Office?
I’ve heard a couple of figures on this but it seems like the Episcopal Church is currently giving between a third and a half of the asking to the ACO. That puts the church in Diocese of Texas territory: wealthy, well-resourced (comparatively) but unwilling to share any of those resources with the other institutions of the church to which it belongs. There’s been a lot of talk at Convention about the hierarchical nature of the church: as far as General Convention is concerned, the hierarchy stops with it. You give us your money, it says to the dioceses, but we’ll keep it for ourselves. Can you blame other dioceses for saying the same thing to the church?
When we start squabbling over resources like this—pointing out how much some dioceses give but not others, arguing over apportionments, etc.—it’s a sure sign of an institution in decline. If we can no longer meet our commitments, something needs to change. I, for one, am hopeful that the new structure super-committee that has been created by this Convention can discern ways for the church to remain a full, active, and engaged member of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church around the world to which we belong.