Wednesday, July 22, 2009

After Anaheim 1 Budget frustration

This will be the first of my reflections on my first General Convention as a deputy. Though I have many, many things to say that will be positive I fear that I must start with a very difficult reflection.

The budget that was passed was a brutal experience. It cut some 38 positions at 815 2nd Avenue, the central office for the Episcopal Church. It cut evangelism and communications which seems counter-intuitive to what we need to be working on in a era where we have created, or rather uncovered a church that needs to reach out to an entirely new audience.

It cut "Lay Leadership" completely. What that means, I am not sure. I missed a chance to ask during the 10 mins available to the 880 deputies to ask questions after one night to review the document.

The process was that a committee took several days to review and work through the budget as presented by the office of PBandF. This "perfected" version then came to the floor of the house. A document which we had never seen before with 18 pages or so of spreadsheets was given to us. We were initially admonished that we could not restore funds unless we could remove them from somewhere else. After 10 minutes of explanation and 10 minutes for questions we were then sent home for the evening knowing that we would have 10 more minutes of questions and 60 minutes to propose amendments the following day.

When the above process unfolded it was clear that the body was expected to put a rubber stamp on the budget with the prevailing feeling that the committee had worked long and hard. Undoubtedly they did. The process was painful and compounded by frustration. Only the morning of the vote was it clarified that the admonishment about where money for changes would come from was a suggestion, not binding. This I am sure put a chill on many who might have suggested changes. I might where I want the money tp go, but not understand the effects of its loss in another area. The only amendment that came close to being made was to restore travel money for the President of the House of Deputies. Her job is volunteer, like many of ours, and her incarnational presence has been very valuable in these times of turmoil. It is still hard to imagine that this area would have been targeted for change were she not chairing the meeting.

There was prayer for the personal pain that this budget would cost many.

Now much of what 815 has coordinated is on the Dioceses to continue. What is done is done and we have a more inclusive church to "sell." Prayers for that are in order.

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