Money. I don’t know of any topic that makes my stomach more jumpy than a discussion of money! True confession time here: I have a good idea of what money comes in each month and what goes out for expenses, including my offerings; but, other than keep track of what bills I have paid, have I written down a thorough budget? No way. I’m not sure why I haven’t – maybe the memory of my mother sitting at the kitchen table each month with her shoe box of papers and my father’s voice telling me “to keep it down; this isn’t a good time to bother Mom.” So I manage but likely I could do better. Can you imagine if our congregations managed our tithes and offerings this way? Or the Diocese? Or the whole Household? What a mess we’d have!!
But, as we all know from every annual stewardship drive in our congregations, our use of our resources speaks volumes about our faithfulness and understanding of our response to God’s call to God’s mission. Whether it’s our finances or our time or our talents, where we invest gives a good picture of where our heart is. This is certainly true for us as individuals as well as for the whole Episcopal Church.
As we prepare for General Convention this summer, many groups have prepared their reports so that the greater Household can give input prior to our meeting together. Last month, the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) issued the proposed budget for the next triennium. You can find that document here – http://www.generalconvention.org/home/draftbudget
The next step in their preparation for Convention is to hear from the Household! Episcopal News Service reported that the PB&F listening process will occur in two parts: at the pre-convention synod meetings (Province V, our synod, meets in April) and an open, web-based comment forum open to the whole church. Once at Convention, there will be two hearings before the debate on passing the budget.
Since the Church’s use of money demonstrates to all how we feel about mission, it’s important that each of us take a look at it and share our thoughts. I know that reading through line items on a financial document is not the way most of us like to spend our time but, if we are willing to invest the time, I know it can also teach us a lot about where the focus of TEC’s ministry is – and we all share the responsibility for the stewardship of God’s resources given to us so freely.
Your deputation would also love to hear from you after you’ve had a chance to review the proposed budget. It will make our jobs so much easier if we have heard comments from people around our diocese – and it’s a great way for you to “join us” along this convention journey because we will take your ideas with us to Salt Lake City in June!!
Here’s the link to the article from Episcopal News Service about the PB&F’s listening phase-
Let us pray –
Oh Lord, giver of life and source of our freedom,
we are reminded that Yours is “the earth in its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.”
We know that it is from your hand that
we have received all we have and are and will be.
Gracious and loving God,
we understand that you call us to be
the stewards of Your abundance,
the caretakers of all you have entrusted to us.
Help us always to use your gifts wisely
and teach us to share them generously.
May our faithful stewardship bear witness
to the love of Christ in our lives.
We pray this with grateful hearts in Jesus’ name. Amen
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council