I was amazed to read that our Executive Council spends over $94,000 for each meeting. Or at least they did until General Convention cut their budget to just over $70,0000 a meeting.

I wrote this to the Bishops/Deputies email list, on which I lurk:

One person who has served on the EC wrote to support me, another wrote a fan letter for the Council suggesting that it wasn’t fair for me to write as I did while they are in session and another said that if the Council didn’t meet where there are airline hubs, ticket prices would wipe out the savings. Some one else said that local parish churches might not be able to find room for the Council members and HQ staff.

Well, if I’d written a scathing email, attacking Council members, their policy and motives that would have been uncivil of me. I didn’t. If 815 obtained conference rates from an airline, booked early enough in advance, the gap between connecting flights to ordinary airports and that to hubs would be greatly reduced. I know.When I was a bishop I had my hand in such things.

All but the smallest parish church can accommodate the Executive Council plus the 815 staff needed there. Or are they all needed there in these modern days of instant communication?

Think of the savings. The hotel would provide a complementary breakfast, not to mention a special group rate. The local deanery could organize lunch and even dinner. There would be some posh people around who would love to throw cocktail parties. There might be a problem about adequate loos. But that could be dealt with.

I write all this without the slightest expectation that my suggestion will be met. Clergy and Deputies to General Convention, except minorities and youth, come from that 25% or there abouts of our parishes which are used to big budgets and a certain upper crust working environment. I’m not suggesting that there is a deliberate elitism here. But elitism there is.

Most of our parishes attract 80 to 140 people on a given ordinary Sunday. Many attract well under that number. Dioceses have financial problems not usually because a few parishes deliberately withhold funds to make a political statement, but because a growing number of parishes are losing the battle to pay for increased clergy salaries, pensions for staff and insurance on the building. They have no money to purchase books, course materials and other tools and resources to help them re-build. One of the reasons the Executive Committee’s funds have been cut is that the financial base of the church is in trouble. Yes people are leaving, sometimes because they are angry; sometimes because they are caught in the middle, and sometimes because they are bored to death.

The EC needs to meet these people, not from afar, not as interpreted by emails and the church press, not like the Queen on walk about, but face to face, in different times and places. Large metropolitan areas have large metropolitan churches.

And while this child of Yorkshire miners is on the rampage, a careful study needs to be made of just why and how deputies are elected at diocesan conventions. It seems to me that heavy favorites are diocesan staff, long serving deputies with financial means, clergy whose parishes can help the diocese pay the bill, and the professional classes. Now this is all very 18th Century pre-Constitutional, States Rights elitism. This is not true perhaps in wealthier dioceses but it is true in a growing number of financially strapped dioceses which can’t afford to cover the expenses of Deputies and particular those from minorities and young people. The manner in which the choice of Deputies is made is not merely a local issue. It affects us all.

So to your roots the bureaucracy: and give +Katharine a small diocese. Carve it out of central New York.

3 Responses

  1. Tony, please consider giving the PB her second +, but above all, remember that she is “Katharine” (not Katherine).

    I think there is quite enough for our PB to attend to without giving her a diocese to administer. We gave up that idea many years ago.

    Why Central New York for someone living and working in Manhattan? The Diocese of New York is very large in terms of congregations, and if we did revert to requiring the PB to be a Diocesan Bishop, it would surely make more sense for her to work with the same staff for a “Diocese of Manhattan” as for her work at the ECC (“815”), rather than incur the cost of separate staff in (say) Syracuse.

    Of course, Bishops Sisk and Gladstone Adams, and their eventual successors, not to mention General Convention, might not go along with any such change until Hell freezes over!

  2. Brother Renton, would you really want to ‘gift’ anyone the Diocese of Big Apple ? At least there would be no problem about administering it. It can’t be done. Though I am not very current with the church in NYC, I well remember what a collection of clerical odds and sods it once contained and cannot believe it could be that much different. But I think Tony is right, the center of the church should move back to Kansas from OZ. JW

  3. Very nice blog, Father. I have linked you on Texanglican. Keep up the good work for the Kingdom.

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