UTO Leaders Resign in Protest

A Statement from the Former Communications Convener of the United Thank Offering Board

With the stroke of a pen, the United Thank Offering Board (UTO) will possibly be rendered powerless and voiceless by Episcopal Church leadership. This is a complete reversal of a three-year study process that resulted in the General Convention ratifying the report of a Study Committee (INC-055 AdHoc) in 2012. The report praised the UTO Board’s work and declared:

We believe that the United Thank Offering must continue to be autonomous but interdependent as regards the corporate entity that constitutes The Episcopal Church.

The abuse of power seems staggering. With the revision of bylaws written by DFMS leadership, anticipated to be presented to The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church in October 2013, the current United Thank Offering Board, representing 125 years of service, will cease to exist.

The revised bylaws document eviscerates the United Thank Offering. It is monstrous and the worst set of revisions ever seen by one longtime bylaws expert. Several Board members described initial reactions to the document as “Horror.” The Board President said the word “eviscerate” occurred to her as well.

In protest, 4 persons, including the board president, Barbi Tinder, and most of the officers have resigned from the board. The group resigning includes 3 of the 4 persons appointed by the Presiding Bishop to be part of a working group to revise the “old” bylaws that were approved by Executive Council just two years ago. One person said she felt betrayed. It appears that none of the input from the UTO members of the group was integrated into the proposed document.

In the proposed draft revision, the current board is superseded by a new election process that totally removes the United Thank Offering from its historic relationship with Episcopal Church Women.

Any decision making from board is removed; it will be only an advisory body. It appears The United Thank Offering Board will no longer be responsible for its granting process, budget and approval of expenditures, communications, meeting planning, education and training events, and public appearances. The Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, also known as DFMS (the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society), becomes fully responsible for the administration and management of the United Thank Offering.

The earned interest from millions of dollars of UTO trust funds and annual UTO offerings come totally into DFMS control. The Chief Operating Officer has said, “We, DFMS, are the United Thank Offering and the United Thank Offering is DFMS.”

Robin Sumners
Former Communication Convener

Barbi Tinder
Former President

Hat tip: The Rev. Canon Mark Harris, writing at Preludium

The UTO board’s webpage, captured Sept. 4, is here. The report of the INC-055 Ad-Hoc Committee on the Study of the United Thank Offering is here [PDF].

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