(Living Church) The Message of the Mission in TEC’s Latest Budget

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have two main missiological concerns with the proposed 2013-15 triennial budget of the Episcopal Church approved (though there is some dispute about this) by Executive Council at its January meeting and now in the hands of the Program, Budget, and Finance Committee, a joint body of General Convention.

One is the understanding of missiology, or lack thereof, that has guided some of these budgetary decisions. It should be clear to most people that we are living in a time of profound transition in our society and in our churches. There are fundamental shifts in American society and American Christianity affecting all religious organizations. As a result of these and other realities, difficult choices must be made. What kind of structures should we have, what should we be doing, and how should it all be funded? What are the theological and missiological reasons for the choices made?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryStewardship

Posted May 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/42868/

1. Mark Baddeley wrote:

Useful article. The two highlights for me were:

Other than the mention of the Five Marks of Mission, there is no reference to resolutions of General Convention, Scripture, or any kind of governing or authoritative sources which informed the numerous decisions that were made. The only other additional guiding principle seems to be a survey commissioned by Council to determine at what level certain ministries of the church should best be done.

Theology simply isn’t driving the budget in a conscious way. Not even bad theology. Theological statements about mission are made, but then the ‘real decisions’ are made without reference to them. That’s true for more than TEC, and where ever it holds true you get a similar outcome of a budget that doesn’t seek to advance the goals of that church - it’s either just maintaing the capital, or try to stop decline. In TEC’s case we can be glad for this dynamic - it’d be bad if actually tried to budget in line with its view of mission rather than be consumed by the urgent. But it’s worth learning the lesson for elsewhere.

The Standing Committee on the Structure of the Church attempts to define subsidiarity in its report to General Convention. However, this definition still notes that General Convention is the church in its “fullest embodiment” and that it “sets the parameters” for other levels of the church to take action — which privileges General Convention as the determinative body and does not reflect the mutuality and interdependence of the levels of the church.

General Convention is the fullest embodiment of the church? Ichabod, the glory has departed. As much as I normally raise issues with the idea that church = the local congregation, when I read something like this, I see the value of it. If we are going to identify something in particular as the fullest embodiment of “the church”, then Article 19 is a much better guide:

  The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

General Convention exists to serve the church, it isn’t the fullest embodiment of the church. It is the constant temptation of catholic-orientated ecclessiologies to identity the fullest embodiment of the ‘church’ with the highest institutional authority, but the church is most fully embodied in the utterly normal and regular life of the local congregations where God’s people hear his Word and receive the sacraments properly ministered. 

Get that right and you will be in a better place to make budget decisions.

May 14, 7:20 pm | [comment link]
2. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Lawsuits are TEc missiology if the money tells the tale.

May 15, 4:39 pm | [comment link]

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