The budget process for The Episcopal Church is an interesting one – and extraordinarily complex. The Executive Council, whose job it is to implement the decisions of the most recent General Convention, is also requested to present a proposed, draft budget for the next General Convention. It has that responsibility because it oversees expenditures from the budget and makes adjustments during the triennium: it has contemporary experience of both the income and expense sides and is in touch with the ministries and programs of the Church. But notice the language: “proposed, draft budget.” The Executive Council does not function during the Convention. That responsibility belongs to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F).
PB&F receives the proposed draft, presents it to the Church at Provincial Synods and by other means, receives input from the church, holds hearings at the General Convention, and presents a “proposed” budget to the General Convention. PB&F received the proposed, draft budget from Executive Council this past Monday and is now preparing to present it to the Church.
There is some overlap in the responsibilities of Executive Council and PB&F. The Canons of the General Convention indicate that PB&F should work with the budget between General Conventions. It is a Standing Committee. However, in practice, Executive Council has taken the lead. During this past triennium the Chair (Diane Pollard) and Vice-Chair (that’s me) have attended meetings of Executive Council to stay in touch with the budget.
The proposed, draft budget that will soon be before the Church is an interesting document. It was formed in response to D027 (2009) which mandated that the budget for the 2013-15 triennium be crafted according to the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion. In addition, Executive Council developed some budget principles and strategies which emphasized such things as care for the poor and direct action on indebtedness. The proposed, draft budget should be available to the Church in about ten days once the Treasurer’s Office is certain it is complete and accurate. Executive Council is also preparing a narrative describing the Council’s work.
I am currently working on the presentation that will be made to the Provincial Synods. Members of PB&F will present the budget using the same PowerPoint at each meeting. Depending on the time available, there may be opportunities for discussion at the Synods. In addition, PB&F will be hosting and moderating an interactive blog to receive input from the Church prior to General Convention.
This is my first experience with PB&F, and I must say it’s a bit daunting. Our work will need to be accomplished in five or six days at the General Convention. We will hold three hearings on July 4, 6 and 7, and the budget will be presented to the General Convention no later than July 10. It will be a time of concentrated effort. The situation is made more complex by the proposals for reform of The Episcopal Church being brought forward from many quarters. To craft budget to support a church in the midst of dramatic and rapid change is both really exciting and very challenging.
Stay tuned for more, and please keep us in your prayers.