Sunday, October 27, 2013

De-Fund 815: Your Pledge Dollars at Work Part III

This past week a large Anglican gathering, GAFCON 2, occurred in Nairobi, Kenya. Of interest to me was the vast difference between this meeting and similar gatherings of the Episcopal church. Thanks to the internet, I followed reports from the field which provided a list of some of the mini-conferences,

  • The Challenge of Islam – led by Bishop Michael Nazir Ali
  • The Work of the Holy Spirit – led by Dr. Stephen Noll
  • Marriage and Family   -  led by Dr. John & Ruth Senyonyi
  • Children and Youths   -  Rev Zac Vernon
  • Gospel and Culture   -  Dr. Alfred Olwa
  • Being Women of God   -  Christine Perkin
  • Aid and Development   -  Rev Dennis Tongoi
  • Theological Education   -  Dr Andrew Shead
  • Episcopal Ministry   -  Bishop Wallace Benn
Last week our diocese held its annual convention and we had a brief summary presented to the congregation today. It doesn't sound like much happened on this side of the Atlantic other than passing a budget. I suppose no one proposed de-funding 815 this year, but I always thought it would be worth a try. After all, where does all that money go? A quick web search turned up the following recent resolutions from the Episcopal church's Executive Council which will give you some idea,

  • Call upon President Barack Obama and Congress to quickly pass and approve legislation to repair and restore the Voting Rights Act; encourage Episcopalians and especially General Convention deputies and members of committees, commissions, agencies and boards to contact their congressional representatives to urge them immediately to develop legislation that will restore and ensure the protection of equal voting rights for all Americans (AN014).
  • Direct the treasurer to file a shareholder resolution with Southwestern Energy on adopting goals to review its public-policy advocacy on energy policy and climate change (AN015).
  • Direct the treasurer to file a shareholder resolution with ConocoPhillips on adopting goals to reduce greenhouse emissions (AN016).
  • Direct the treasurer to file shareholder resolutions with Anadarko Petroleum and General Motors on conducting a risk assessment for human rights (AN017).

The usual social activism agenda (which is quite a contrast to that at GAFCON 2).

Digging a little deeper uncovered this,
"On the closing day of its Oct. 15-17 meeting here, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed to spend part of an unexpected revenue increase in the 2013-2015 budget on a new staff position dedicated to racial justice and reconciliation..." 
"...The decision to spend $258,000 in 2014 and 2015 to pay for the work of a staff officer to help foster racial justice and reconciliation came after what Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori later called 'a very hard, conflicted and tense discussion...'” 
This pewsitter is not convinced that such a staff officer at 815 will actually accomplish the intended mission. In fact, the job proposal itself has already stirred up a bit of racial tension which may be the first reconciliation project for the new staff officer to tackle. For example,
 "After the Rev. Jon Floberg of North Dakota spoke of his concern about spending all the new revenue at once and asked what would happen if there was not enough money to continue funding for the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, Diocese of Michigan Wendell Gibbs told his colleagues that he assumed his colleagues were well-intentioned but said 'it doesn’t work when we unintentionally pit one ethnic group against another.'” 
Of course the political activism of the Episcopal church is what this is all about and therefore the Navajos can just eat dirt,
 "'The idea to add the position came in response to developments such as the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating key parts of the national Voting Rights Act,' Sauls said. 'Those events in particular, he said, prompted church center staff to think that “maybe it was time to return to spiritual leadership in advancing racial justice.'”
I rather suspect that the new staff position is just a way to give an 815 croney a do-nothing job for the next couple of years, and that this is all the more reason to de-fund 815.

If they were really into the racial justice bit, 815 should have sent its officers to GAFCON 2 (just take a good look at the lead picture in this story at StandFirm in Faith).

Instead of acting like our politicians and coming up with new spending projects with every hint of the possibility of more money, the Episcopal church's Executive Council needs to remember the notion of saving in times of surplus in order to survive the inevitable famine,
"And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it.  That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine which are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (Joseph to Pharaoh, Genesis 41:35-36 RSV)


  1. I can say with absolute certainty that TEC does not appear in the budget of the ACNA church I attend. I would suggest that this is the ultimate defunding.

    1. I would tend to agree although 815 is sufficiently cushioned so that it does not yet feel the impact of ACNA, or at least that is how they are acting. It would be best if whole Episcopal dioceses act to de-fund 815, but the threat of lawsuits, Title IV charges, and the overwhelming majority held by liberal bishops makes de-funding unlikely except on the small scale of individual congregants withholding their dollars.

  2. Christ and Scripture are at the core of the Nairobi Communique. Thus the real "back to the future" for GAFCON. As for TEC they are an NGO.

    1. The view from theTEc perspective is that they themselves represent the future and that GAFCON is a step backward. I think the two are oceans apart and the divide is growing. Look for the future TEc to de-emphasize its ties to the world wide Anglican Communion.