Monday, July 20, 2009

Cutting Budgets

Along with all the great things that happened at General Convention last week, there were also some unfortunate ones, include a huge cut to TEC's budget.

The Rev. Terry Martin writes painfully about the impact of these cuts on him and evangelism in particular. He and many of the commenters on his blog question the wisdom of the church to choose to make these cuts. (Everyone recognizes that in this economy there have to be cuts somewhere.)

The Rev. Lois Keen commented,
So far as I can garner from the stuff I've read this week, the "cuts" were made in areas which it is thought the dioceses could each pick up. I agree with the pragmatism of that assumption; I quarrel with the basis, however. There is a message sent when at the international level of TEC whole areas are no longer part of the "banner" - it sends a message that women, evangelism and worship and spirituality are not important.

I know that's not what is intended. I'll have to work on not expecting the various "desk" titles giving us our identity.

I think this is a critical observation. TEC hasn't decided that evangelism is unimportant, or women's ministries, or spirituality. But perhaps recognizes that it is work that does not have to be done "top down." The alternative is to cut programs that only the international body could do, such as General Convention, Episcopal Relief & Development (a separate entity now, I know, but receiving huge support from TEC) or others that mostly go unnoticed because we take them for granted.

I haven't been intimately involved in the budget decisions and I don't know why these decisions were made. Asking "why?" is important. I'm not ready to jump to the conclusion, though, that those who made these decisions have abandoned the true purpose of the church. Maybe they have, but I don't have evidence of that, yet.

I feel for and pray for Terry and others who have lost their jobs. And I pray that this will be an opportunity for us to move away from a top heavy institution and into the grass roots movement of God's Mission in the world. If we are distressed by the budget cuts, let's respond with renewed energy for the work that we think is so vitally important.

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