More on the budget

Yesterday afternoon, borrowing a tactic from politicians in Washington to release bad news late on a Friday, TEC produced a line-by-line commentary on the budget for the 2012-2015 triennium. There’s additional material here, including a foreword from the Presiding Bishop and  description of the process that led to the budget itself. The entire document is here:

commentary_on_the_draft_2013-2015_triennial_budget

That story is quite revealing about the dysfunction that led to disaster. Budgeting was put in the hands of a small group. Instead of involving staff, the budget was placed in the hands of the “Executive Council Executive Committee.” There was a survey of select individuals across the church, and from that survey, budget priorities were developed. Then, in advance of the eight-member ECEC meeting, five of the members had a conference call, unknown to the others, where further matters were discussed. I’m not going to say more. You must read Crusty Old Dean’s commentary on the commentary to understand the depths of the dysfunction.  I’ll quote him on the relationship between the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies:

Unreal.  The puerile bickering between the PB and the PHOD was bad enough when it was eye-roll worthy; who thought it would be at the core of the struggle to reshape our churchwide structures outside of any democratic process?

He also makes several proposals about what to do:

1)  Adopt something like this budget, and accept that we have dismantled our entire churchwide organization based on not much more than fight between a handful of people over the vision for our churchwide organization, and wind up with Potemkin village for a churchwide organization, where administration and governance are protected by those with a vested interest in them, run by a Politburo in defiance of democratic process.
2)  DEMAND that a TRANSITIONAL BUDGET be adopted for the 2013-2015 to fund more or less our current structures with equal across-the-board cuts.  During this transition budget, allow for a churchwide discussion and consultation.  Find ways to make it happen!  Eliminate the across the Board 3% raises for the triennium.  Postpone the $1 million in additional staff proposed. Make it work somehow.
If not, then walk out and prevent a quorum necessary to pass this.  In the end, if we stand by and do nothing to try to prevent this injustice from moving forward, we forfeit our rightful place as the DFMS and instead accept this dysfunction as normative.  As Leviticus 19 tells us, if we see injustice, “you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.”
People ask me if I’m going to convention. It’s wonderful, they say. I’m not sure Madison is far enough away from Indianapolis to escape infection from the poison that seems to have infested our church.
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