What a 5.2 million surplus reveals about our lack of leadership in the Episcopal Church


The Executive Council members of the Episcopal Church were told that there was a $5.2 million surplus in the Church’s last 3-year Budget. What they debated doing with it tells us everything we need to know about the lack of vision and clear direction of our current leaders.

Why is this important? The Episcopal News Service reported that having received a report on the continuing decline of the Episcopal Church including the number of congregations that are closing, the Executive Board preferred to discuss “Abundance instead of Scarcity.” Evidently, when they did not like our trends, they chose to deny the facts and the consequences of this continued decline. Then as if to illustrate their complete lack of vision or direction, they debated about returning the 5.2 million dollar surplus to the dioceses.

The Backstory: Since 2003, the Episcopal Church has experienced a substantial decline in membership due to several complex reasons including a series of controversial decisions around sexuality. The current leadership on the wider Church level and in many of our dioceses seem to be unable to imagine any attempt to reverse these trends or to reach out to a wider group of unchurched people. So, given surplus money, they had no idea of how to use this for creating a healthy response to this decline.

The Alternative? Investing in parish revitalization. As the Church has declined, the number of mid-sized congregations that can afford a full-time ordained leader has also declined. Many congregations are now forced to seek part-time solutions for clergy aimed mostly at providing sacramental ministry to present members. While there are some significant stories of growth among some of these part-time situations, the general trend is that part-time clergy do not have the time or skills to help congregations grow by reaching new people especially from younger generations. In other words, part-time clergy is primarily a status quo solution, one that merely makes an adjustment to our decline.

Here is a direct action that they could have taken to strengthen our congregations. They could have used these funds to ….

Read it all at Kevin on Congregations