Dear People of the Episcopal Church in Vermont:
On June 13, 2015, members of the Episcopal Church in Vermont gathered at Trinity Church, Rutland for a Convocation. This Convocation was the culmination of the year-long “Becoming More Missional” consultation process that I initiated prior to my 2014 sabbatical. During the consultation, I presented several recommendations that I believe will help strengthen and guide us as we engage in God’s mission in the months and years ahead.
One of those recommendations was the formation of a Funding Our Mission Task Force. Because there are so many interrelated aspects that contribute to the funding of our church-wide mission and there are a myriad of options about what to do with each, I recommended calling together a task force to take a comprehensive look and to offer detailed recommendations in this area of our common life. There was high energy around this subject in the consultation, but the many voices were challenging to decipher. So, it seemed best to take all that information and to task a broadly-representative group with the work of helping us chart our financial future purposefully.
The Funding Our Mission Task Force will consist of representatives from parishes throughout the diocese as well as individuals with particular financial skills. The team will have a wide mandate and be charged with examining the entire diocesan budgetary, grant and loan process to determine what changes of a fundamental nature would be useful to assure the optimal carrying out of our participation in God’s mission at the local, diocesan and Church-wide levels. It will include, but not be limited to, a review of the elements listed below and will offer recommendations to the Bishop, Diocesan Council and Diocesan Convention. The work of the Task Force is to take place between now and Diocesan Convention 2016.
- The mutually agreed formula, enacted by Diocesan Convention for determining the canonically required contribution of each congregation to the common diocesan operating budget (often referred to as “the assessment”)
- The various grant and loan programs administered by diocesan entities (such as the Bishop Butterfield Loan Fund, the McClure Discovery Grant Initiatives, the Stirrings of the Spirit Initiative, the Alleluia Fund and Funds available to the Bishop, including the Hunt Fund)
- The use of restricted and unrestricted investments (at both the diocesan and local levels)
- Various appeals, such as the Alleluia Fund annual appeal, Planned Giving approaches and Capital Campaign/Targeted Solicitation appeals
- Review of Clergy Compensation
I am pleased to announce the appointment of the following members of the Funding Our Mission Task Force:
- Ben Andersen Ray (St. Stephen’s, Middlebury)
- The Rev. Lisette Baxter (St. Andrew’s, Colchester)
- Jon Chaffee (St. Paul’s, White River Junction)
- Wayne Cook (St. Michael’s, Brattleboro)
- Pat Elmer Saylor (Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Burlington)
- The Rev. Margo Fletcher (St. Thomas and Grace, Brandon)
- Wallace H. Good, Jr. (Holy Trinity, Swanton)
- Barbara Johnson (St. James, Woodstock)
- The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp (Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre)
- The Rev. Liam Muller (Trinity, Rutland)
- The Rev. Mark Preece (St. Martin’s, Fairlee)
- Steve Smith (St. James’, Arlington)
- Debra Taylor (St. Andrew’s, Colchester)
Canon Lynn Bates and I will also serve on the Task Force
The theme for our upcoming 2015 Diocesan Convention is “Jazzed About God’s Mission.” The jazz metaphor suggests a helpful way of thinking about this season of discipleship as we seek to become more mission-oriented in our life as the Episcopal Church in Vermont. The gift and beauty of jazz music is the capacity of the musicians to improvise within a structure. The Funding Our Mission Task Force is one element of this journey as we look with hope to God’s unfolding future and our participation in God’s reconciling mission in our life as the Episcopal Church in Vermont. Regular updates about their work, along with opportunities for local involvement and input will be provided. I ask your support and prayers for the work of this Task Force.