Short-changed Partners?

By Lauren Anderson

In a meeting July 5, the World Mission committee heard from the Episcopal Church’s mission partners who said they did not receive full funding in the past triennium that they were promised.

Heather Melton, Chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, introduced representatives from the church’s covenant partners in Liberia, Brazil, Philippines, Mexico, and Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America (IARCA), all of whom supported a resolution calling the Episcopal Church to honor its covenant agreements and, if the church is unable to do so, to ensure partners are notified of funding cuts.

During the last triennium, the church did not fulfill all financial commitments to its covenant partners, a mistake that Sandra McPhee, vice chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, says was the result of “financial confusion” at General Convention in 2009. Moreover, the diocese and provinces were not informed they would no longer be receiving funds.

Melton said the lack of communication with the church’s covenant partners, in addition to being unable to fulfill financial commitments, is embarrassing for her as a member of the Covenant Committee. The miscommunication, Melton said, led to hard feelings, as well as hard budget cuts for the provinces and diocese.

Two of the dioceses took a 30 percent cut in their budgets. Representatives from the Diocese of Venezuela said funding for schools, nursing homes, and the salaries of clergy in Mexico and Central America were severely cut. The Rt. Rev. Jonathan Hart, bishop of Liberia, likewise said schools, health care, and evangelism training were affected when the diocese did not receive its anticipated block grant.

The Rt. Rev. Hector Monterroso of Costa Rica said his diocese cannot afford to lose any more funding.

“Who is next to be fired? We have three people: the bishop, the secretary, and the accountant,” Monterroso said.

Melton said the Episcopal Church needs to become more aware of its covenant relationships, adding that the least the Episcopal Church can do is provide funding for its partners as they work hard to fulfill covenant requirements.

“They have all these promises they make, and all we have [to give] is a check,” Melton said.

But, even with new resolutions, money is still tight. McPhee said she anticipates these resolutions will affect how the church funds covenant partners in the future.

“There’s never been enough money, but now it feels like there’s even less. It’s tighter than it used to be,” Melton said.


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