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Financial Straits for the Communion

By Zachary Guiliano

Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon had blunt words for the Anglican Consultative Council about Anglican Communion finances: “There are provinces that since 2011 have not paid a dime as part of their financial responsibility to the communion. They do not attend ACC meetings. They do not attend their regional meetings. ACC members: we are waiting for your advice. What do we do?”

His report at the beginning of business April 29 addressed many other concerns and highlighted areas of Anglican growth and vitality around the world. But his words on the financial constraints on the Anglican Communion Office and broader efforts clearly had an effect, as official summary feedback from ACC members indicated.

“There is a very real challenge to find ways of securing additional resources to fund the activities of the office and the networks, commissions and regional bodies of the Communion,” Idowu-Fearon wrote in his report. “Income to the Inter-Anglican Budget is dominated by provincial contributions. However, there is a heavy reliance on a small number of provinces to provide most of the income: 67% comes from two provinces, 94% comes from 10 provinces.”

Abp. Idowu-Fearon did not name the provinces involved, but the budget published at this meeting makes clear that the two provinces contributing the most by far are the Church of England (41.4%) and the Episcopal Church (21.9%).

The eight other provinces that contribute most to the Anglican Communion budget are the Anglican Church of Australia (8%), the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia (4.4%), the Anglican Church of Canada (4.4%), the Church in Wales (3.4%), the Church of Ireland (3.1%), the Anglican Church of Hong Kong (3%), the Scottish Episcopal Church (2.4%), and the Anglican Church of Japan (2.1%).

Roughly a third of Anglican provinces and extra-provincial churches do not contribute regularly, and no contribution has been received since 2014 from Bermuda, Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa.

The published ACC budget does not distinguish between provinces unable to pay due to poverty and those that are unwilling, but Idowu-Fearon reserved his criticism in oral comments for “those who are able, but they are being financially irresponsible.” He challenged ACC members from such provinces: “Speak with your bishops; speak with your primates.”

“The current budget position is unsustainable,” Idowu-Fearon wrote. “[W]e are seeking to address this through a budget proposal for the six year period 2020-25 and a new formula for provincial contributions which ties contributions to the size and financial well-being of each province. There are also proposals for what happens when provinces do not contribute.”

The new proposed budget makes clear that the ACC Standing Committee is considering whether to refuse reimbursing the expenses of ACC members and primates who travel for international Communion meetings, if their provinces no longer contributes to the budget.

Idowu-Fearon expressed in particular the problems of adequately staffing and maintaining the Anglican Communion Office, given the shortage of funds. But the constraints on the budget have affected a variety of efforts in the Communion, including those endorsed by ACC-16 in Lusaka. The Anglican Communion Office’s “Resolutions Progress Report” lists two major efforts that have not proceeded due to shortages in funding.

  • Opening formal ecumenical dialogues with rapidly growing evangelical and Pentecostal churches;
  • the translation of Anglican “documents and other media” from English into other major languages of the Communion (French, Spanish, Portugese, Swahili).

Perhaps the largest effort sidelined due to perceived funding difficulties, however, stemmed from ACC-16’s Resolution 37, on holding an Anglican Congress. That resolution said the Anglican Consultative Council

  1. believes that an Anglican Congress emphasizing the participation of laity, young people, and women would foster the relational nature of our life together in the Anglican Communion and support intentional discipleship in a world of differences; and
  2. reiterates the resolutions of ACC 10.31, 11.14, 12.35, and 13.13, calling for an Anglican Congress in the Anglican Communion; and
  3. urges the President and the Secretary General to pursue the feasibility of holding a global Anglican Congress by the end of 2025; and
  4. requests the Standing Committee to address progress on the planning of such an Anglican Congress at each of its annual meetings and report directly to the Members of the Anglican Consultative Council on the status of the Anglican Congress immediately following each Standing Committee meeting.

The ACO’s progress report said no practical actions have been taken on this resolution, and even the “feasibility study [was] not undertaken; Proposed that this should happen after the Lambeth Conference. Standing Committee [is] aware that this work has been deferred on probable financial difficulties of an Anglican Congress.”

The Standing Committee’s report does not mention any other progress or discussion of an Anglican Congress.

Any attempts to address provincial budgetary contributions will require time. “Funding for additional staffing is likely to be sought externally rather than assuming that it can be secured through provincial financial contributions,” Idowu-Fearon wrote.

“To this end I am so very grateful for support from the Compass Rose Society and from other external funders, including the St. Augustine’s Foundation [for] a five-year commitment to the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion project.”

With reporting by Paul Handley of Church Times


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