Friday, June 19, 2015

Dehydrate? Why Funding in the Second Mark of Mission is Food for Everyone #gc78

Elevator Speech regarding tbe Draft Budget Decimations in Lifelong Formation

The draft Budget offered to the 78th General Convention makes significant cuts to the second mark of ministry TEACH.  This area of mission is the life-giving nurture for all the areas of mission.  Changes need to be made to appropriate healthy funding for both the DFMS office and FORMA.  Approve needed funding for:
  • Youth and Young Adult Events such as EYE,
  • Lifelong Formation office of DFMS,
  • FORMA grant from some place in the budget OTHER THAN THE LIFELONG FORMATION OFFICE BUDGET.

Five marks.  Nourishment. Focus. Ideals. Hopes. Practices.  We organize our budget priorities based on the Five Marks of Mission.  Tell, Teach Tend Treasure Transform.  In the preliminary draft budget of The Episcopal Church, the only mark with an overall reduction is 2, Teach.  Formation, education, young people, children, youth, young adults, which if we are honest are quite active living all 5 Marks of Mission.  This is food and water for the gardens we are trying to grow.  More than just filling a pail, area 2 is ongoing and lifelong hydration for the other four marks.  You know that fine wine you are trying to make?  Dry creek beds and no snow pack are going to be a problem.  Maybe not this year, but here in Washington state and elsewhere, is a problem this year. 

I used to live in a mile-high city.   (Actually, I have lived in two.) I have this friend.  A smart, kind, generous and world traveling fella who had moved away, he came back to visit.  After less than 12 hours he had a headache and wasn't feeling so terrific.  I asked him if he was hydrating.  He made a sheepish face and said, um, no.  No hydration, no wellness.  It is true at any elevation, but especially true on high.  I hope the folks who are headed to Salt Lake City remember to hydrate.

The church-wide work of lifelong formation and education that is supported by the DFMS office is outrageously effective ministry on a shoestring, and this ministry directly supports the church-wide local work of ministry to tell, teach, tend, treasure and transform.  This life-giving ministry supports transformational opportunities that no congregation and no diocese and no province could do on their own (EYE for example).  The people who are making hard choices about budget and direction are smart and generous and on a mission.  Yet I have to wonder if they have forgotten that to complete this mission, we all need to hydrate.

Storms equal no train today.
Calling the leadership for help getting to EYE14.
EYE.  The Episcopal Youth Event.  Every three years a Christ-centered lifegiving mission-focused Episco-palooza.  The most recent event in Philadelphia cost over $1 million, with around half those costs come from registration fees, which are paid by persons and congregations and dioceses. This most recent event was celebrated on a much smaller budget than in the past. Furthermore, that is only one of the four events (including the Young Adult festival) that line item 68 is intended to cover. Check that number. 

The sales pitch that  “Full funding retained for youth, young adults, Episcopal Youth Event and campus ministries” can be contradicted by a child with 4th-grade math skills. Church-wide celebrations of discipleship and mission with and for and by young people will not continue to happen without liquid assets, and if higher costs are passed on to the participants, then we will see a drying up of the diverse and church-wide participation. 

In the draft budget, there is a first time $100k grant to FORMA.  The FORMA board is currently all volunteer led, relying on the generosity of dioceses and parishes with full-time staff.  This FORMA grant is intended to allow us to hire leadership who can take us to the next level of professionalism and self-sufficiency so that we might continue to nurture all this TELL, TEACH, TRANSFORM, TEND AND TREASURing.   Formation and discipleship is the hydration for of all the rest of Christ's mission.  Want to climb every mountain, or ford every stream?  You are going to need hydration.  All the time and all over the place. FORMA does this, and we can do more with an infusion.  

I am greatly in favor of this funding with a mile-high exception.  It is currently coming directly out of the Lifelong Formation office budget, significantly reducing the funding for that office when we already have a stretched and slashed staff.  I am not in favor of the FORMA line item coming from the Lifelong Formation office section of the budget.  It is robbing Peter to pay Paul.  It is actually doing that, doing it more so than any other time someone has used that idiom. Yetin this specific situation, Peter and Paul are 'hydration buddies' ; worker bees in the same hive, colleagues and like family;  and we are already doing amazing work together.  Dream visions of water-wise gardens?  Install drip irrigation and then disconnect the water company (and the rain barrels)?  Wait, what??!? The FORMA grant is intended to water and seed this grass-roots organization so that we can become an even better partner with the DFMS office. 

Lifelong formation is a primary vocation of Christian discipleship.  The Episcopal Church is best enabled to support lifelong formation when we have a healthy balance of both an executive office accountable to church center leadership AND a grassroots mutuality-based organization; and that both these factors serve the needs of the church best when they can work together with BOTH having ADEQUATE funding and staff.  I desire sufficient liquid assets for both and I wonder if the innovative funding for FORMA can be taken from another area. Perhaps it could come from the innovative ministry grants.

Reunion of OYP12 at EYE14.
I have bushels of time and talent invested in this one.  I am a member of FORMA, the grassroots network and training organization for everything from youth workers to Sunday School directors, to parish priests and more.  I am also a Youth Ministry Liaison with the TEC Lifelong Formation office,and have been an Official Youth Presence mentor, and I have other involvement as well.  I am a local and diocesan youth, and family and formation minister and I have been serving in these zones for quite some time.  I serve in all five marks of mission because I have been nurtured by the professional support of the DFMS office and FORMA.  

I have to wonder.  Why the cuts, why here? I replay commentary such as  'glad it is you and not me' and 'is that (lifelong formation ministry) a professional thing?'  In some ways, this feels like it is a deeper cultural issue played out in the lines of numbers of the draft budget.  In the wider world I hear fermenting angst about cultural decline, but then I see that funding for arts and music is burned, and then I am asked where the creative commitment to each other has gone.  In this Episco vineyard we simultaneously throw millions at a pipe dreams, but ask the people who minister with young people scrape by with pennies on the dollar, and then have the nerve to make toasts about how young people are the 'future of the church.' 

As a formation leader both locally and regionally, I need BOTH an incredible grassroots network like FORMA that is doing amazing work that the church center office cannot, and I need a healthy Lifelong Formation Office of the church center to attend to areas that FORMA cannot.   FORMA and the Lifelong formation office will best help us live into our Baptismal promises when we have the networked grass roots of FORMA and TEC employed expert leadership that is accountable to the evolving structures.  Investing in drip irrigation technology and just dropping it off in a fragile container is the hardest possible way to grow good fruit in a dry land.  Training, equipping and ongoing support need to go hand in hand with the tending of the gardens and collecting the rains. No hydration, no bees, no juice.

The draft Budget offered to the 78th General Convention makes significant cuts to the second mark of ministry TEACH.  This area of mission is the life-giving nurture for all the areas of mission.  Changes need to be made so that healthy funding similar to the budgets (that I presume were) requested is restored.  Approve needed levels of funding for:
  • Youth and Young Adult Events such as EYE,
  • Lifelong Formation office of DFMS,
  • FORMA grant from some place in the budget OTHER THAN THE LIFELONG FORMATION OFFICE BUDGET.
The link below gives a complete explanation of the details of FORMA's recommendations about the draft budget.   I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about this budget item. 

1 comment:

  1. 2nd Mark (TEACH) -$261k EYE and more; -$129k DFMS Office. BIGGEST CUTS. Ask WHY?