Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Catching Up

Yesterday (Monday) was so busy with meetings that I did not have time to run up to the main building and access the wireless, so I will try to catch up the events of the last 36 hours in two separate entries. I've attached first a video of the "Fireside Chat" on Sunday night. The Presiding Bishop covered a number of subjects, including her impressions of the most recent Primates' meeting, which were generally favorable. The bishops assembled however seemed more interested in talking about money, or rather the lack of it, the recession being the unmentioned topic that is clearly on every one's mind. One bishop addressed the "elephant under the table" the fact that some of our wealthiest dioceses pay very little to the larger church. ( I am happy to say that Arizona for many years has paid its full assessment). What followed was a long recitation of financial woes, what my old rector used to call, "crying poor-mouth." Frankly, I've heard it all before. When I was a parish priest, I would hear stories of how obviously wealthy parishioners just couldn't afford to pay raise their pledge. As a bishop I hear from parishes who just can't afford to support the Diocese as much this year (even when they have done little or nothing to improve their stewardship efforts). Now as a member of the house of bishops I hear about how various dioceses just can't possibly help with the mission of the larger church. The real issue for me on every level is stewardship. The average giving of Episcopalians is 1.7% of income, far from the Biblical tithe of 10%. The Pew Foundation stated recently that Episcopalians are the wealthiest of all religious groups. Even in a time of economic duress, we can certainly afford to fund our mission. The money is there, what is lacking is the motivation. Maybe if we spent a little more time proclaiming the Gospel instead of crying "poor-mouth," we would be better off on every level-- parish, diocese, national church.

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