Seventh inning stretch (sort of)

For those of us who had to step out or who are just checking in on the score, here’s where some things seem to be on the fifth of General Convention’s eight legislative days:

The budget:  Even with the usual messy process that it has to undertake, Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has finalized its proposed Episcopal Church budget for 2013-2015, and it is being printed today.  PB&F will present it tomorrow at a joint session of both houses, to be voted on by each on Thursday, the final day.

PB&F on July 4 decided to use the “Five Marks of Mission” budget proposal (also known as the the alternative budget that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori submitted just before General Convention started, to much surprise and some opposition) as its template–because of its “clear missionary framework” and “updated income information,” according to the statement PB&F released.

A standing-room-only crowd at the first budget hearing on July 4 gave and heard testimony on a wide range of funding priorities, with Christian education, evangelism and young adult and campus ministries getting a lot of microphone time while we were there.  There were two more hearings before PB&F got everything added up, and, having heard strong support at the second one on July 7 for maintaining a 19 percent asking from dioceses over the next triennium, it decided to do so.

All this despite some apparent budget pushback from the House of Bishops via “no” votes on some resolutions with funding implications–chalked up here as a statement against putting “the funding cart before the budget horse.”

Massachusetts deputy Mally Lloyd serves on PB&F and we hope to catch up with her for her perspective.

Structure:  The way the Episcopal Church organizes and governs itself has been characterized by structural change proponents as an emergency that prevents it from doing mission.  The Committee on Structure (on which Massachusetts deputy Fredrica Harris Thompsett serves) has been trying to synthesize nearly 50 resolutions on various aspects of the topic, following some big hearings where there has reportedly been a lot of passion but a “paucity of ideas” when it comes down to specifics, according to ENS coverage here.

Today the committee reported out for vote a substitute version of resolution C095. It calls for a task force to collect ideas for governance reform from all levels of the church over the next two years.  “I see this as a brilliant document of trust,” Harris Thompsett says here.

Denominational health plan:  The Committee on the Church Pension Fund (on which Bishop Gayle E. Harris serves) has recommended implementation of much of the denominational health plan mandated at the last General Convention, ENS reports here.

Anglican Covenant:  Eight resolutions on the Anglican Covenant have had hearings, covered by ENS here.  Bishop Tom Shaw serves on the World Mission Committee dealing with these resolutions, and he makes a prediction based on the work done so far in his blog post here.

Liturgies for same-gender blessings:  Supporters outnumbered opponents at the July 7 hearing on A049, the resolution authorizing liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships, ENS reports here.

Israel-Palestine:  Out of the 14 resolutions vigorously discussed during a July 6 hearing before the National and International Concerns Committee (find detailed coverage by ENS here), the committee has decided to put forth two, which are substitute versions of B019 on positive investment and C060 on developing an advocacy and engagement strategy “to further a just resolution of the conflict utilizing existing policies and resources.”  Read more from ENS on those developments here.

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