At our clericus today Dean Baker talked about how changes being proposed in our budget and the the apportionment structure reflect new directions for our diocese.  The realities of the world around us have changed.  Kent McNair noted that in a diocese of some 70 congregations, since the 80’s, more than 20 congregations that had full time clergy then no longer have full time clergy today.  And I noted that some of our congregations who have been in clusters can no longer support those clusters today.  A number of churches which used to have more than 1 full time paid clergy can no longer support more than 1 full time paid clergy.  This, in spite of being larger than they were when they had more than one clergy.

Budget changes over this year and next year (proposed) will shave the better part of $400,000 from our diocesan budget.  And more will be trimmed the following year if we continue the plans already in place.  Apportionment changes (proposed) will shave, I believe I heard, around $200,000 in income (and give it back to the congregations).

Clergy insurance will no longer be paid out of the diocesan budget.  There is a shrinking offset proposed to help congregatons during a transition period.  But this will put the expenses where they belong and give a clearer picture of a congregation’s health.

All of this is a first step in trying to free resourses in larger congregations (some of whom are paying 25% of their income in apportionment) to put them in a better position to grow.  Many smaller congregations, in spite of somewhat reduced apportionment, will find their overall expenses increased because of the cost of insurance for their clergy (which they will now pay).  It’s going to be a time of change, probably, for all of our congregations.  And the reality is that business as usual is no longer an option for us in this diocese.

Theologically, we talked about the importance of baptismal ministry — which belongs to all of us.  The future of our congregati0ns will probably depend on how we implement the ministry of all our members.  There will be great challenges for us all.  But there will also be real opportunities.  New things will be tried.  Not all of them will work.  But the work of God’s kingdom will go forward.