By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
CHASKA, Minn. — Executive Council has approved $217,500 in new funding for curacies and clergy compensation in the Diocese of Fort Worth.
On June 10, the council voted for three years of grant funding for Fort Worth. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, Fort Worth will receive a new funding stream of $107,500. For each of the following two years, grants will be in the amounts of $55,000.
Fort Worth has been struggling to recover from years of costly litigation as the diocese battles breakaway congregations for control of properties. The diocese reorganized in 2000.
The Local Ministry and Mission Committee (LMM) praised Forth Worth for making consistent, full assessment payments to the Episcopal Church along the way and for covering its own legal expenses with no help from the broader church. The Very Rev. Dr. Brian Baker, committee member, said that over the past two years, the diocese has increased membership by 19 percent and grown financial giving levels by 11 percent.
“In the Episcopal Church, we have been very good at incentivizing decline, but it would be nice for us to find ways to incentivize growth” and to reward faithfulness, said Baker, who is dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Sacramento. “So we’ve been working very hard in LMM to come up with a plan that is workable.”
The church will fund the grants in part by reallocating money previously earmarked for Episcopal revival events, which will not happen this year due to scheduling difficulties. The first Episcopal revival will be in the Diocese of Western Missouri on the weekend of May 5-7, 2017. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will preach.
Now the Diocese of Fort Worth is seeing growth in congregations, but it has struggled to support and encourage that growth as litigation takes a financial toll, according to Canon to the Ordinary Janet Waggoner. She celebrated Thursday as FFM cleared the way for funding and encouraged her diocese to apply as well for church-planting grants. The funds will enable two priests in part-time roles to become full-time.
“Those are two priests who left real, full-time paying jobs to take half-time jobs in very challenging situations, believing that their sacrifices would make a difference,” Waggoner said. “But your families can’t always sustain that forever…. Now we’ll be able to say to them: ‘Just run. Just run into your communities in ways that you feel called.’ I just think that’s the most beautiful thing.”