The Program, Budget & Finance Committee heard ardent pleas from across the Church Saturday night for funding that included at least dozens of separate budget items.
Episcopalians asked for funding for ministries ranging from black colleges to indigenous peoples across the Church, to support for Haiti, Christian formation, the Development Office, Episcopal Service Corps, mission enterprise zones and the office of Pastoral Development, among others.
Before hearing the requests, committee members stressed that PB&F is “very mindful of the needs and concerns of the Church,” as well as the fact that the budget needs to be prepared quickly so that it can be presented at 2:15 on Tuesday afternoon.
Cornelia Eaton, Navajoland Area Mission, asked for support for Native American ministries. “We all have gifts to offer, and in the Five Marks of Mission, we need the help of the Church to go out and share our gifts,” she said.
The Rev. Eulogio Quito of Central Ecuador said that “due to the blessing and love of God, we are part of the Church. It is a blessing, the presence of the Episcopal Church among these, the poorest of the poor.” Quito asked for funding for new ministry in the Andes, “in which there are thousands of people with a hunger for the knowledge and word of God.”
The Rev. Megan Castellan, deputy, Arizona, highlighted campus and youth ministries. “We talk about mission a lot in the future, but right now, campus and young adult ministries are where we need to look for the future of the Church.”
Referring to Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon on Saturday morning, she said, “If you want to explain a crazy, loving God to a very unsure world, then campus ministry is where to go. Look at the young people speaking at this convention about the truth of the Gospel. … We need hope, the Church needs hope, and you can fund it.”
Likewise, several witnesses spoke of the need for a one-time grant to help the Episcopal Service Corps build up its infrastructure. “This is our church following Jesus into the future,” Bishop Curry said.
The Rev. Amity Carrubba, ESC’s executive director, echoed Curry’s sentiment. “This is the kind of network that the Church needs to thrive in the 21st century. This is the kind of organization that will take us into the future,” she said.
There were repeated calls for funding for the Office of Pastoral Development, which “empowered us to return to health and wholeness after years of confusion within clergy and laity,” Toni Hogg, from the Diocese of Southern Virginia, said. “The Office of Pastoral Development is the mustard seed to the national Church.”
“One way to look at this is that this is the kidney of the Church,” the Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray III, Mississippi, said, “processing and expelling the poison of the Church. If we don’t have kidneys, our body does not function well.”
Thomas O’Brien, Southeast Florida, focused on lifelong Christian formation, which he called “an essential part of the Second Mark of Mission, central to our lives as Christians.”
The Rev. Charles LaFond of New Hampshire argued for Church-wide funding of the Development Office. “We need to effectively ask for gifts from wealth Episcopalians. The fear of money,” he said, “is institutional narcissism.”
The bishop of Haiti, the Rt. Rev. Jean Zaché Duracin, thanked the Church for what it has done for Haiti, and spoke in support of allocating funds from the Millennial Development Goals to his diocese. “Eighty percent of our schools and hospitals have been destroyed,” he said. “We are in the rebuilding process and we need money to do that.”
Ian Hallas, deputy, Chicago, echoed Duracin’s call, saying, “We have a responsibility to help Haiti.”
In the same vein, Robert Radke, the president of Episcopal Relief and Development, asked for full funding of the MDGs. “NetsforLife is awesome,” he said, before telling of one family that wanted to give him an elephant as a present. Instead, he said, the family gave the ERD visitors “all of the eggs from the community that morning – everything they had.”
General Convention manager Lori Ionnitiu asked for more funding for the General Convention budget. “This is a family reunion,” she said.
Three speakers addressed funding for historically black colleges. Hershey Millet, from North Carolina, spoke of wanting to “go to a place where I would be strong, be challenged and pushed to my limits without the distraction of prejudice or presumption, a place where I could be whole, and be my complete self.”
“My story is special and extraordinary; my experience at black colleges was special and extraordinary, and I’m going to be a special and extraordinary priest for the Episcopal Church,” she said.
Dr. Cleveland Sellers, president of Voorhees College, an Episcopal institution, said that all historically black colleges “fall under the Five Marks of Mission.”
And Darius Snow, a rising senior at Voorhees, said that “because of the guidance I’ve received at Voorhees, I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could achieve. The historically black college has helped change me.”
Josephine Hicks, deputy, North Carolina, in calling for support for the Anglican Communion, spoke for many people in a wide variety of ministries when she said, “We need to put our money where our mouth is.”
–Reported by Penelope Davenport; written by Lauren R. Stanley