From The Living Church via TitusOneNine:
Posted on: April 21, 2009
An estimated 300 clergy and lay delegates from the Diocese of Michigan met April 18 for a six-hour special convention to address an anticipated $1 million diocesan deficit.
Meeting at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit, delegates ranked funding priorities from among 17 categories and reviewed long-term strategy options for use by diocesan council as it seeks to reconcile income and expenses.
Ministry with youth and young adults was ranked as the top priority, with congregational vitality a close second and discernment and training for ministry finishing third. Evangelism and total ministry, or ministry of all the baptized, tied for last.
The special convention was scheduled during the annual convention last October when delegates approved a $2.9 million budget for 2009 which included the use of principal from the Extended Ministries Fund to cover an expected $985,835 shortfall in income.
In several letters to the diocese prior to the special convention, the Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Bishop of Michigan, announced that five diocesan staff positions would either be eliminated or left vacant. He also postponed the launch of the first phase of a diocesan-wide survey that was to have cost more than $300,000. Bishop Gibbs also noted that the estimated $2 million in income, primarily from contributions made by diocesan congregations, may have been overly optimistic. Other cuts are expected when council meets again on May 9.
Left unresolved by the convention was an ongoing theological debate within the diocese over the use of the $7.1 million Extended Ministries Fund. Some diocesan leaders advocate leaving the principle untouched and using only a portion of dividends to provide a modest but predictable revenue stream. Others believe that the principle of the fund should be tapped in order to support new or imperiled ministries, particularly during times of economic distress.
“We are not alone in facing our challenges or our opportunities,” Bishop Gibbs said. “The time has come for us to be in conversation with our Episcopal neighbors to our west and to our north about ways to collaborate in areas of mission, ministry and administration.”
The Record, the newspaper of the Diocese of Michigan contributed to this report.