The silence from upstate Episcopalians about the upcoming 92nd Diocesan Convention Of The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina is perhaps a reflection of the general sense of "who cares" amongst the people in the pews, but perhaps there is more going on than people know.
Apparently a letter from Bishop Waldo went out to clergy recently about restructuring the staff. He attributes it to a financial shortfall this year and projected cuts for 2015, and so the theme for this year's convention is appropriately titled,
Stewardship of People, Place and MoneyDidn't they used to call that, "Stewardship of Time, Talent & Treasure"?
Christ Church, Greenville
Stewardship of people means:
1) Gone is the Canon to the Ordinary.
2) Gone is the Canon for Congregational and Leadership Development.
3) Gone is the Executive Assistant to the Bishop.
With pledges decreasing, many smaller parishes are feeling the pain this year from their diocesan assessments. These assessments will drop a little bit the year following a poor yearly income report, so Bishop Waldo knows that he either has to cut his budget or some program that might be particularly precious to someone else, but as far as stewardship of money is concerned, are there any other sacred cows out there to sacrifice?
In previous years, suggestions to cut the 815 pledge have been summarily dismissed. It is hard to see anything good coming out of 815 these days, so why not give them what they have earned? Will anyone stand up this year and ask the delegates to put the knife to this clear and present danger to good stewardship?
Usually, the proposed budget (euphemistically called the "Statement of Mission") has been passed around enough times that most of us are aware of exactly what cuts the Conventioneers might have to debate. This year a cloak of silence has been thrown over the pre-convention debate so that many delegates may find their Saturday afternoon plans thwarted if anyone tries to debate a line item at Convention. This budget has been in development all year, so there shouldn't be any surprises, but what usually happens is that somebody who feels strongly about their particular line item will decide to stand up and give a last minute appeal for that item.
Ah well, Bishop Waldo and 815 are the ones to blame for falling plate and pledge and falling enthusiasm for the Episcopal organization thanks to their progressive changes and insidious revisionism, but don't expect your church leaders to admit it. Instead expect more attempts at rearranging the deck chairs as the ship slips below the waves.
I sure am glad we have a huge mortgage payment that the Bishop would never want to add to his budget woes.
If he is looking for advice from this lowly pewsitter on how to pull the Church from out of its budgetary death spiral, I would tell him to repent of his sins, to say no to same sex blessings and marriages, to cast out the revisionist priests he has allowed to take over the ranks of the clergy, to cast out the remaining "Canons to This That and the Other Things" in order to recruit reasserting clergy with track records of church growth, and to preach the Gospel. Heck, bring them in from DSC if you can't find them in TEC.
If you preach it straight, they will come.