The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Leadership Gathering & Mission Council Reports from June 2019


The quarterly gathering of the four leadership bodies in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) – Mission Council, Standing Committee, Commission on Ministry, and trustees of Donations & Bequests (D&B) – was held Saturday June 8, 2019. Wearing an orange t-shirt with the ECCT mark, Bishop Ian T. Douglas opened the gathering with prayer for those affected by gun violence, along with information about the annual “Wear Orange” weekend that calls awareness to gun violence nationally.

The combined group spent time “Dwelling in the Word,” looking at the scripture for Pentecost, then reflecting on and discussing in pairs what “languages” they heard in their neighborhoods (broadly defined) and what the Holy Spirit might be nudging them to speak.

Suzy Burke and the Rev. Rowena Kemp, co-conveners of the Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation Ministry Network then gave an update on the Season and the Network’s activities. They showed a civil rights documentary from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “Faces in the Water,” followed by brief discussion on what God was calling people to do now. The Network co-conveners asked the members of the Leadership Gathering to “connect with a church or worshiping community whose congregation is racially different than you are” before its next meeting on September 14. Recommended ways to connect included worship services, Bible studies, fellowship activities, or other ways.

Canon for Mission Finance & Operations Louis Fuertes gave a high-level overview of resources followed by conversation facilitated by Canon for Mission Integrity & Training Robin Hammeal-Urban to consider where God was in the midst of those resources: “God’s Money for God’s Mission: Financial Resources of ECCT.”

The resources included $62 MM with the Missionary Society (about 2/3 of which are unrestricted) and $200 MM in parish assets, not including real estate. On a given Sunday, Canon Fuertes reported that about 10,000 Episcopalians attend worship services and in 2018, they gave about $30 MM to their parishes to support operations. Parishes received another $5 MM from fundraising and facility use fees, he reported.

Seventy percent of the Budget of Convention comes from Common Mission Support, the 10% asked of parishes, and about 30% of the Budget comes from the income of Missionary Society assets managed by D&B.

Canon Fuertes then gave a second presentation to look at changing financial circumstances. He presented charts showing a reduction in the number of large churches (looking at Average Sunday Attendance, or ASA) and a corresponding increase in the number of small churches. While more parishes are giving at the required 10% level for Common Mission Support, the data and trends show that the amount of money they’re receiving is declining, hence, the amount received by ECCT is declining and will continue to do so if trends continue.

Other factors include the sale of properties, such as when parishes close or merge and properties revert back to the Missionary Society, may increase available assets; and an increase in employee expenses, primarily because we’ve added Region Missionaries and made the positions full-time. In addition Camp Washington has gone over its budget for years, and ECCT has covered the gap.

Canon Fuertes suggested that ECCT needed to cut about $1000 in program expenses to present a balanced budget to Convention.

The different leadership groups then considered what their committee or group would recommending doing about the changing financial picture.

Commission on Ministry members suggested that they could be more efficient at recruiting on the “front end;” trustees of D&B suggested they could make the money work twice, such as investing in a fund that does social good, even creating a third fund for that if needed; Standing Committee members urged not going over the 5% spending plan on returns from investment assets and using all its resources; and Mission Council members didn’t have a specific recommendation but considered the value of more information, their responsibility for the budget, leadership questions, and recognizing the gifts of lay persons and inviting those instead of paying for outside experts.

The Gathering concluded after noonday prayers and lunch. 

Mission Council Meeting Report - June 8, 2019
  • Passed the Consent Agenda. This included minutes from the Finance Committee meeting of May 30, 2019; a report from Canon for Mission Collaboration the Rev. Tim Hodapp on property matters in Stamford, Canaan, Southport, Putnam Bristol, and Norwalk, and cemeteries in Bristol, Plymouth, and Stamford; receipt of Camp Washington financial statements; and receipt of notification from St. Alban’s, Danielson of its vote May 31 to close as a parish.
  • Received report from Canon Hodapp and CCS staffer Tiffany Reed on ECCT’s “Joining Jesus” initiative.
    • From Canon Hodapp, focused on spiritual practices: 130 clergy and lay persons, from 29 parishes, attended info sessions. The Cathedral plus 10 parishes have signed on to participate in a four-module program over the 2019-2020 year to focus on learning and implementing five spiritual practices (St. Monica’s, Hartford; Grace, Hartford; Trinity, Brooklyn; St. John’s, Vernon; Trinity, Torrington; St. Peter’s, Cheshire; Christ’s Church, Easton; St. John’s, Essex; L’Eglise de l’Epiphanie, Stamford; and St. Mark’s, New Britain).
    • From Tiffany Reed, focused on raising financial resources: met with clergy and 1-2 lay leaders at 74 parishes or worshiping communities to share information and listen to concerns; conducted 15 “rapid studies” at a subset of those and learned 35 more were interested but at a later date; interviewed 229 parishioners during the “rapid study” phase; signed up five parishes (Christ Church, Bethany; Emmanuel, Weston; St. James’, Glastonbury; St. Monica’s’, Hartford, and Trinity, Brooklyn) and the Cathedral to conduct campaigns. Campaigns collectively hope to raise $3.1 MM and have already received more than $800 K in gifts and pledges. CCS consultancy is free to parishes, as the fees were paid from Missionary Society funds authorized by the Mission Council. Twenty percent of funds raised by each will go toward one of four ECCT-wide projects, of their choosing. These include support for Regions (entrepreneurial fund); Camp Washington; Christ Church Cathedral; and intentional Christian communities.
    • Held a discussion following each presentation; longer for the second report;
  • Received report from Canon for Mission Finance & Operations Louis Fuertes:
    • Reviewed and accepted ECCT’s financial reports (Q1 Income Statement and Combined Balance Sheet) showing revenues of $1.58 MM is closely tracking budget predictions; expenses at 21% of full-year budget with program expenses at 15% of full-year; all in line with prior years;
    • Learned that ECCT audits should be completed by September 1, 2019
    • Reviewed budget planning process
    • Reviewed parish compliance and learned of overall increase
  • Discussed engaging Mission Council in budgeting process.
  • Approved grants as submitted:
    • Sustainable Development Fund: $10K for Jerusalem Peacebuilders’ pilot EXCEL teacher training program for 2019;
    • Mission Development Fund: $10,500 to include: $5000 for Your Place at St. Monica’s, Hartford; $3000 to Laundry Love, St. James, Danbury; and $2500 to SE and SC and SC Region for CT River Pilgrimage
  • Deferred grants to parishes in low-income communities to provide time for 25 potential grant recipients to bring themselves into Good Standing
  • Received report from Canon for Mission Leadership the Rev. Lee Ann Tolzmann that the Priesthood Models Task Force requested at the 2018 Convention to address questions around part-time clergy has been identified (the Rev. Whitney Altopp; the Rev. Michael Carroll, the Rev. Lucy LaRocca, the Rev. Nik Combs; Lynne Ide, and another senior warden still discerning); and voted to appoint those;
  • Heard report from the “Open Communion” Task Force, a subset of the Liturgy Commission, requested at the 2018 Convention, which has been working on clarifying language and its mandate since learning that “Open Communion” is often confused with communion for the unbaptized and they believe Convention wanted to address the latter;
  • Heard a report from the Rev. Rebekah Hatch, clergy delegate to Province One, encouraging people to explore to learn about Province-wide Ministry Networks; then heard from Bishop Ian T. Douglas about changes the Province is exploring regarding its structure from one that supports institutions to one that convenes ministry networks.
  • Adjourned until the next meeting, September 14, 2019.