With the elimination of grants to seminarians and turning your back on campus ministries, how can we uphold the mandate of Bishop Marc Andrus to encourage/maintain growth of young adults in the Episcopal Church?
I also feel the same way as the first comment:"With the elimination of grants to seminarians and turning your back on campus ministries, how can we uphold the mandate of Bishop Marc Andrus to encourage/maintain growth of young adults in the Episcopal Church?"
Are we simply abandoning anyone under 30?Then let's plan for an orderly shut down of the entire institution.
exactly...we must re-prioritize this budget
Are we abandoning everyone under age 30? If so, then GC should be about planning an orderly shut down of the entire institution over the next 20 years.
I have to say I agree with the comments above. Episcopal campus ministries literally saved my life. I was baptized (for the very first time) at Easter Vigil 2009. Working to organize weekly events for my campus ministry and leading workshops at GATHER helped me develop critical event planning skills that I now use in my career as a non-for-profit fundraiser. Since graduating (and even before) I've become an active congregant at St. James Cathedral and most of the people my age that I see there got to know the church through THEIR campus ministries. It breaks my heart to think that other young, queer, Christians will now likely lose a safe place for them to explore being queer AND being loved by God. What a tragedy.
Did I really read correctly that ALL spending for youth, including EYE was cut? And, did I also read correctly that we spend over 11 MILLION dollars on General Convention every three years? I am hoping that I am incorrect and someone can show me where I read the figures wrong.
I'm so disheartened by this draft of the budget. This may well have been intended to turn the power of youth programming back to the diocesan and congregational levels. That is a de-construction of hierarchy that with adequate notice, planning, and execution I could support. However, not without some level of national support. What this budget actually seems to do is preserve the hierarchy of the national church at the expense of localities. Moreover, this budget is balanced on the backs of our young people. I'm a late 20 something who left the Episcopal Church about 10 years ago in part because even then I was struggling with what I felt like was a growing emphasis on hierarchy and the status quo, and lack of investment in youth and young adults. That crisis has only grown in the last 10 years. This budget reflects a stunning lack of foresight and deaf ear to the places the church should be emphasizing and investing in most. I am now an ordinand with the United Church of Christ. I was formed by Episcopal youth programming like Happening, EYE, programming at the Kanuga Conference Center, and Episcopal Campus Ministries. You are de-investing in the future of the church, the formation of our young people in our faith tradition, and ensuring the church's decline if things go forward as proposed. As a current seminarian, I am genuinely heartbroken and disappointed that the church would essentially de-fund seminary education in a culture where Episcopal seminaries nation wide are in deep financial crisis. It ensures a move away from an educated clergy, which has always been a hallmark of the denomination. I hope something can be done, because the crisis that is looming if no changes in spending are made is nothing compared to what will happen if this budget is approved. God be with you all.
Add me to the list of those outraged at the proposed formation cuts. There is no way that these ministries can be done adequately, solely at the local/diocesan level; there needs to be that sense of connection to the national church. (I speak as a parish rector, age 33, who will most likely also be a paid part-time university chaplain starting in the fall.)
My post is largely focused on the massive cut backs in formation and vocation which reduces the grants to campus ministries among other things. I wanted to explain the role that my campus ministry, Brent House at the University of Chicago has played and continues to play in my life. I was raised Lutheran and went to school at a Missouri Synod church school 5th-8th grade. While I have to give that church some credit for turning me into a person who valued scripture and gave me the tools to be able to think reflect on my life and actions theologically, I also have to say that the experience of being told that woman were not allowed to be leaders and that being gay was a sin drove me away from organized religion. By high school I had decided that organized religion and the church were not for me, and that church was largely a place for people to sit in self-righteous judgment over one another. This attitude continued into my second year of college when I began to feel like something was missing from my life, and that maybe I should give the church another chance. I knew I needed a church that took a strong and unapologetic stance on gay rights, the equality of women, and did not require that one check one’s brain at the door, and submit to dogmatic teachings. I could have ended up in a variety of churches, particularly on a college campus where liberal church options are abundant, but I ended up at Brent House. I found myself there because of a conversation with a friend who upon hearing my story asked me if I would like to come to Brent House. I came back to the church on our Ash Wednesday service at the campus chapel. Within a week I had been invited to a prayer retreat. I found myself with a whole new group of supportive peers on a campus that is very hostile to people of faith. A year later I was a peer minister for Brent House, and now I am pursuing an MDiv degree in order to become a military chaplain. I can honestly say that without Brent House I would not be an Episcopalian. I would have continued to float through my college years without going to a church and without pursuing my call to ministry. Without the campus ministry I would not have made some of the best friendships of my life. I would not have believed that the church could be a place of healing and compassion. On a college campus it is far too easy to just drift along choosing to be a part of a many other activities, and leaving one’s religious life to be something private and individualized. Brent House is where I have gone when I have needed counsel or just a place to be safe. With the cuts to already struggling campus ministries I really worry that Brent House, and other places just like it, will no longer be able to stay open. My generation does not feel like it is required to go to church. I made many critical decisions about what kind of person I was going to be in college, and without my campus ministry I would not have made the commitment to the church. I do not believe that the National Church does not care about its young adults. I have received nothing but encouragement from all of the people I have encountered in working with the Diocese of Chicago and in the Episcopal community at large. I do think that it is important for our church to continue to demonstrate that young adults matter as well as recognizing that without us the church will die. Money is not the only way of measuring our priorities, but the decision to make such drastic cuts to this area will have consequences for these ministries that have already been struggling to survive. My campus ministry already brought me into the fold. I am not going anywhere, but without a strong commitment to formation, young adults, and campus ministries there will be many others who drift away or find that the church is not a meaningful community for them to commit themselves to.
This budget really needs more justification behind it. I'm discouraged and disappointed by the cuts to program and the build up of administration. While some of the big highlighted investments in the national conversation and the co-op purchasing power sound good on the surface, I have huge concerns whether they are worth the investment. The co-op purchasing power in particular sounds good in theory but so many things vary by locality that I would not be surprised if after three years and 500k, the only thing we have is 5 cents off a pack of paper. I also believe good and faithful people are behind this budget; I just don't understand their thinking. The 3 page narrative did not do much to help. How long will the presenters of this budget remain silent to the concerns that are all over here, facebook, and the blogosphere?
I would really like to hear some sort of justification from the PB,Exec. Council, et al., for this budget. I can't believe they're trying to wind down TEC and close up shop, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they understand the gravity of what's been put forth. The little "explanation" they put forth just doesn't cut it. They should be willing to step forward and defend this budget, especially the apparent abdication of our young people. Surely, they realized this would start a major firestorm (to put it mildly). Why does it seem that none of them is trying to offer a fuller explanation? That doesn't exactly inspire confidence in their leadership.
The lack of commentary supporting the line items makes for confusion and discomfort on the part of laity, bishops, priests and deacons. The PB & Executive Counsel need to state their strategic vision and "sell it"....I agree that we need to support Youth and those who form them as well as recapturing folks 50+....someone isn't showing much awareness in NYC....If we're going to devolve responsibilities to dioceses, this needs to be discussed by laity and clergy as well as Bishops...perhaps a more effective way to reduce costs would be to move the National Office out of NYC and to Middle America where prices are lower and common sense seems more prevalent?
I would greatly appreciate some visual representations of the budget, something that would better allow me to understand and compare the different areas of spending. For example: administration, program, outreach, mission, formation. This is a very critical time in the life of our church, and making the information as easy to understand as possible is absolutely necessary. Perhaps also include a graph indicating what percentage of total cuts were made to each area.
Like many others who have voiced strong concerns, I would like a clearer and better explanation of the budget shifts and cuts. As someone who serves on a Diocesan staff in formation, a conversation about taking on more responsibility as it pertains to the broader church in this area should have been a priority. And one prior to this proposed budget. I attempt to stay on top of information that comes from 815 (email and social media) and cannot find anywhere an invitation to anyone about a conversation for individuals in active ministry on the local level to talk about such drastic cuts and the inevitable ramifications. This budget proposal makes a terrible assumption that the local level (diocesan and parish) is willing and able to take on such responsibility. What is clear to me is how out of touch the authors of this proposed budget seem to be with what actually exists on the local level. The number of paid individuals (clergy or lay) focused on formation ministry is fewer and further in between than I think most are odviously aware. Assuming that in a year or less an adequate infrastructure could be cobbled together to handle such a tremendous shift in operations is short-sighted at best.In addition, understanding what I've read, there is quite an increase in staffing at the TEC office. I am unclear as to the reasoning behind such increases. If I understand the message the PB & F is trying to send, which is deconstructing the current model, I am unsure how a 1.3 million dollar increase in more office personnel achieves that goal. Particularly at the cost of valuable ministries that help us maintain denominational identity across age groups. Also, cuts that cost personnel and programs already in place carrying forth important mission in our own pews.While I agree the Episcopal Church is in some ways an international church which is growing in other parts of the world outside of the US. I agree it is important to support and foster ministry growing in these places. However, if we do not maintain and tend our fields at home we will have nothing left to share with these growing areas.
I am deeply concerned that by defunding the church-wide work to create and maintain a common standard of clergy leadership and the church-wide work to lead shared youth and young adult ministries, we are falling short of our most critical goal: to glorify God from generation to generation in the church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. For longer comment please see related blog post: http://plainsongfarm.com/on-the-budget-a-voice-crying-in-the-wilderness/
I am still young, at fifteen, but what I have a voice in our church on national, provincial, dioecesan, and parish levels. In the past year I have truly come to know what my Episcopal faith is and claim it as my own. This all began when I was convinced to apply for my Diocesan Youth Council, this led to me attending the Provincial Youth Event of Province IV after EYE 2011. This knocked down the first domino in my long line of what has been New Beginnings, Winterlight, DYC Retreats, Happening for the first time, and finally going to my home diocese's summer camp (Camp Mikell, Toccoa, GA). Without the funding on a national level, the domino affect would never have begun in my life and I would never have come to see God's love in my life. A great woman working with youth in a country, Cookie Cantrell, led over 70 youth this summer in Minnesota and she said we will do what we can. This is what I ask of my church, at home, in my diocese, in my province, and in my nation. I know God will provide for all but I want to know my church is doing what they can. Youth and young adult funding must remain or there is no hope of us being able to do what we can.
Decreasing formation funds will trickle down to adversely impact diocesan funding. Churches struggling to run formation programs will more heavily depend on volunteers. Financially fragile parishes will be offered less free curriculum. Small parishes will have fewer opportunities for youth to join with others in national events. Financially-stable parishes will face a heavier burden of supporting their own ministries plus those of less-capable churches. Eventually, parishes with thriving formation programs will become an anomaly, their youth orphaned.What will be missing? Episcopal Identity: Common formation materials, youth gathering events, youth representation at national conventions, conferences for children’s educators… all help shape our identity as Episcopalians and should be cultivated by The Episcopal Church. Many people are not born Episcopalians. If our youngest members don't form a strong Episcopal identity, when faced with the transitions of modern life they will feel no compulsion to seek an Episcopal church. They will church shop, regardless of denomination. Episcopal allegiance will not be a priority; ultimately membership will suffer.Advocacy in the Media: The Episcopal Church has an essential role in “branding’ our denomination. While the budget to support a public ad campaign would not fall under ‘formation’, cutting formation will lessen the ability of our youth to be successful spokesmen for our faith. Christianity is often depicted in the media in a way that is counter to who we are as Episcopalians. Our children & youth need a shared identity to enable them to differentiate our denomination from other less tolerant, more extremist sects. Most people can’t spell the word ‘Episcopal’ let alone define our ‘brand’ of Christianity.Economy of Scale: The loss of materials currently funded at the church-wide level disproportionately increases the cost of those materials at the local level for two reasons – redundancy and economy of scale. The expense of developing a shared resource will be redundantly duplicated at every local congregation that wants that resource. While volunteers may be free (as opposed to paid staff), volunteer hours are not finite. Most volunteers are already stretched to capacity. Thus, there will be activities that simply will no longer occur. A church that relied on centrally developed formation curriculum may elect not to offer formation rather than develop their own materials. Furthermore, by reducing the Episcopal Church’s budget for formation, thus Church Center staff focusing on that area, there will be fewer individuals to negotiate reduced-rate group purchases – something that should occur more often.Acknowledgement: I am fortunate and atypical in that I am paid to provide Children’s Ministry. My job is accomplished by volunteers in most other congregations. Even so, the wages I earn are paltry considering my education, ability and forgone opportunities. I entered this ministry knowing that my salary will never be a living wage – volunteers are even more altruistic. Given that no one devotes themselves to children & youth ministry for financial reward, I would at least expect The Episcopal Church to show support and acknowledgement of our importance. By disproportionately cutting the formation budget, the message to employees and volunteers is quite clear. Our sacrifice and commitment is not valued by society – NOR BY THE CHURCH. This is appalling and discouraging. Some staff and volunteers will decide their efforts would be better appreciated elsewhere.Ultimately, the decision made by Program & Budget will not greatly affect me. I have a strong Episcopal identity; I will help young people develop theirs. But I fear they will be orphans who have an allegiance to their parish but not the Episcopal tradition. Are we a congregational denomination or are we a communion of saints, the Episcopal Church, the Anglican communion, the body of Christ? Do we want our youth to celebrate it and continue it? If so, we cannot cut our formation budget.
I'm still concerned and frustrated that there's been no additional official response regarding this. Sometimes, it feels like we're all commenting on this into space. Is anyone actually listening? (If there has been from PB, PHOD, or anyone on Exec. Council, please let me know.)
I too have been waiting (hopefully not in vain) for this forum to be a dialog with PB&F members who received this draft from the Executive Council. Overall impressions: the 19% asking from dioceses is not sustainable for 2013-15, put the dollars in evangelism/church planting/youth & young adult ministry/formation and zero out TEC property litigation & Government Relations/Washington Office.
From: Dontie Fuller, Coordinator of Ministries With and For Youth, Episcopal Diocese of IndianapolisRe: Proposed Budget 2013-2015 The drastic cut in the draft of the Episcopal Church’s budget from the Executive Council is very disturbing to me. The line item for which I am concerned is “Total Formation and Vocation.” Since it is a DRAFT, I feel there is hope for revision. The 2010-2012 Budget was $3,049,339. The proposed 2013-2015 is $286,438. The budget comments for this line item state that the work of the Formation office will be re-focused in dioceses. With that I will cooperate, but it cannot substitute what the Church can do as a larger body. The leadership coming from The Episcopal Church Center in the offices concerning Christian Formation has had an impact on what I have done and am doing in my ministry. The programs, “Will Our Faith Have Children?” and “Wrestling with the Big Questions,” have been an inspiration, a source of ideas and for my ministry. These were Christian Formation events for all nine provinces of the Church, designed and executed by staff at The Episcopal Church Center. The people I met at these events have been a network of Christian Formation support for me and have proved priceless. In developing a Children’s Program for this General Convention, I have found the help from Ruth-Ann Collins, Officer for Adult Formation and Lifelong Learning and MerLynne Byrne, Consultant for the Children’s Program a great help in getting all the necessary details in order to have the safe, high-quality program we will be offering at this Convention. The Episcopal Youth Event that occurs every 3 years is a life-changing experience for many youth. I have observed in the youth who have gone to this event that they discover the vast, rich diversity that is our Church. They commit themselves to Christ and the Church. They become challenged to do ministry once they return home. The fact that this event will occur no more is a great loss for our youth. To have an Official Youth Presence at General Convention is wonderful training for our young people who are serious about serving the Church in this way. To do away with this, is to remove the voice of young people from General Convention. I find this action of reducing the Formation budget by 90% puzzling because since 1997, there have been resolutions that call for a focus on Christian Formation with adults, youth and children. To cut the Formation budget so drastically seems to say that faith formation is not very important after all. 2009-A082 “Adopt the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation” 2006-D059 “Provide Child Care Facilities at General Convention” 2003-D096 “Give Thanks for the Official Youth Presence” 2000-D045 “Affirm and Urge Consideration of the Centrality of Children to the Ministry of the Church” 1997-B005 “Adopt Statement ‘A Children’s Charter for the Church’”