I am glad you are here. I especially want to thank the deputies who accepted my invitation to serve on this body. I am grateful for your willingness to serve.
And some of you even agreed to come back – Mally Lloyd, David Quittmeyer, Barbara Miles, Doug Sparks, Chuck Perfater, Paco Quinones, and John Floberg. I am grateful for your dedication and resilience! I am also glad to see Patty Downing who served as the legislative aide to PB& F in Indianapolis, and now returns as a deputy.
I have great hope for the budget development process for the General Convention Budget for 2016-2018. 2009 and 2012 were very difficult for a number of reasons.
- 2009 General Convention: In 2008 the plunge in the market had a significant impact on investment income, and Executive Council handed off a budget that had to be significantly cut – to the tune of $23 million as I recall – by PB&F resulting in a large reduction in force, many executive sessions during General Convention, and a lot of pain and dashed hopes.
- 2012 General Convention: 2012 saw a difficult hand off from Executive Council to PB&F with too little time between the Executive Council meeting at which the budget was adopted and the meeting of PB&F which immediately followed within hours, and then the issuance of a second budget giving PB&F not one, but two draft budgets . There was confusion, suspicion, and misunderstanding.
Enter Susan Snook and Mark Hollingsworth and the Joint Standing Committee Finances for Mission of Executive Council (FFM) along with members of PB&F, officers, staff, and an Executive Council who longed for a more transparent, less contentious, and more Gospel-based budget process. No one wanted a repeat of 2009 and 2012, and I am happy to say that I believe we are well into a different kind of budget development process.
The process used to develop the budget and hand it off to PB&F early next year is inclusive, transparent, responsive, collegial, and collaborative. Officers, staff, members of FFM, and Executive Council have worked very well together proving, I believe, that good process most often leads to a good product.
A note about inclusion: FFM has surveyed the church about the diocesan asking and are seeking to be responsibly responsive. As Susan Snook noted, many people have been invited to provide input. And, for the first time in my memory, the draft of the preliminary budget is being put out for comment. This budget has not been created by a small group of people in a locked room.
The budget that will eventually be given to PB&F to consider and work with over the next eight months will have been crafted with significant input from the Church. And I say Amen and Alleluia to that!
This is the second triennium that the Five Marks of Mission have been used as a framework for the budget and I believe that is a good thing. After all, a budget is a theological document.
The budget will be a mirror that reflects our understanding of who we are what, what we believe, and what we value as we strive to be a community of disciples faithful to God’s call and claim on us.
Developing a budget requires conscious choices, especially when there are not enough financial resources to do everything we wish we could do. And budgetary choices impact lives in ways we cannot always know ahead of time, requiring us to be respectful, sensitive, and careful. I know you will do that to the best of your ability.
As the deputies know, I recently sent a letter to members of the House of Deputies about some restructuring in the House of Deputies which I hope will help our legislative process and may be of assistance to PB&F. I will post a link to that letter on the PB&F Extranet page.
Resolution Review Committee
I will appoint a new House of Deputies Resolution Review Committee to serve the House by reviewing pre-filed resolutions to ensure that they are consistent with our polity, that they are in the form required by the canons, and to assess whether they have funding implications. This committee, which will include deputies and others with legislative and canonical experience, will write a report on each resolution and submit it to the chair of the appropriate HOD legislative committee before consideration of the resolution begins. The report can also be sent to the legislative committees on Constitution & Canons and to PB&F.
HOD Rules of Order
A committee is working on a comprehensive revision of the Rules of Order of the House of Deputies. Currently the calendaring of resolutions is by committee number. The revision will propose that the HOD Legislative Committee on the Dispatch of Business will be given the authority to place resolutions on the calendar according to priority. Resolutions with funding implications could be moved up on the calendar.
In my opinion, PB&F needs to build a budget on what currently exists in terms of governance, structure and administration. It is unlikely that all restructuring proposals will be acted upon by the time PB&F presents the final version of the General Convention to the two houses in joint session. Executive Council will need to amend the budget if there are significant structural changes with financial implications.
In conclusion, as you continue your work this week, I hope you will:
- Listen to the church and reduce the diocesan asking in a way that is strategic and sensible.
- By keeping more money at the diocesan level, carefully consider what can be done on the local level as opposed to the churchwide level.
- Avoid the Seven Last Words: We have always done it like that.
- Seed grants are included in the preliminary draft budget – campus ministry, Mission Enterprise Zones, helping to plant new congregations. Find ways to plant seeds that you and I may not live to see come to full growth.
- Don’t get caught in the false war between governance and mission: governance, administration and structure (GAS) are always the servant of mission; you need gas to power the engine.
- Make this budget a theological statement of our identity and mission as The Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies
October 28, 2014