Greetings of Pentecost, a season fertile with the life-giving infusion of the empowering Spirit of the living God! We think of our Muslim sisters and brothers who enter the season of Ramadan.
A word about Pentecost:I am always humbled by the generosity of God in calling us to be partners in the ministry of grace and reconciliation we are called to pursue where ever we are planted. Pentecost is a core identity where the “other” was the catalyst that made the church mobile, curious and malleable. It was in a crowded multicultural city and a quiet space that the church was born into this identity of being mobile, curious and malleable. It led to the church becoming more compassionate by calling for the ordination of Deacons to practice loving service, more inclusive by recognizing the Spirit in Gentiles thus including other worlds to enrich all, and more hospitable by crossing over dietary restrictions by recognizing God’s presence in all things. When we practice compassion, inclusion and hospitality we make room for the Spirit to do the relational work of transformation through a mobile, curious and malleable church.
A word about stewardship:Our apportionment, which is an outward and tangible expression of an inward and spiritual grace of unity, will begin a pilgrimage toward the biblical tithe in the next budget (2019). Here’s why I think this is good. First, biblical is better! Second, Diocesan Council and I see us beginning to grow in our numbers. This means a movement toward a tithe will enable congregations to function with greater capacity for mission while enabling us to be a vital Diocese at the same time. We have flattened out our decline. Alleluia! This means, we are now poised to move into a season of growth, on the basis of the following assumptions:
After years of thoughtful and disciplined stewardship, our investment draw is down to 5%.
Overall, our congregations are seeing a consistent increase of 1.5 to 2% growth in operating income over the last 7 years.
In 2020, we will move our Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) commitments to a designated fund, eliminating the need for funding through the annual Operating Budget.
We are diligently seeking out funding through grants and the launch of a Bishop’s Annual Appeal to support specific initiatives of strategic missional significance.
The movement toward a tithe will help focus congregations that are growing to invest more toward their discernment of mission and less toward diocesan apportionment.
Thank you for your generosity! I hope you will pay close attention to this year’s Pre-Convention meetings and Convention to get a handle on all this. This is an exciting way to move forward following Jesus, into the neighborhood, while travelling lightly. I ask your prayers for our General Convention Deputation as we prepare for the 79thConvention early July in Austin TX.
Your fellow servant in Christ,