[Episcopal News Service – Lusaka, Zambia] The Anglican Consultative Council was asked April 12 to determine how to handle the fact that 15 of the 38 provinces do not contribute to the communion budget or give very small amounts.
For the first time, members of the ACC were given a list of the churches that do not give or give small amounts. Of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces, four (Congo, Sudan, Uganda and West Africa) as well as the extra-provincial Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain have not contributed to the Inter-Anglican Budget for more than five years.
Another 10 were listed as having last made payments in the years between 2011 and 2014. The largest of those was Nigeria’s $14,200 in 2011 (at 2016 British pounds to U.S. dollar rates). The other nine on that portion of the list are Korea, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Burundi, North India and Southeast Asia.
The communion office’s 2016 budget comes in at nearly $3 million, with 63 percent of the revenue budgeted to come from the provinces.
Anglican Communion Secretary General Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said the provinces on the list “have not been playing the role of being members of the communion, particularly financially.”
He noted that his office has a restricted budget fund for aiding clergy and their families when facing what he called personal emergencies. In 2015, nearly $130,000 was paid out, Idowu-Fearon said. Most who contribute do not benefit from the fund, but the majority of those receiving aid are from provinces on the list he gave to the ACC.
“It is something that we have to think seriously about,” he said.
The secretary general also said some provinces appear to have taken to heart an admonition contained in a communique issued late 2013 after a meeting of the GAFCON group which asked communion provinces to “reconsider their support for those Anglican structures that are used to undermine biblical faithfulness and contribute instead, or additionally, to the financing” of GAFCON.
“We need you to guide us as to what to do in getting our brothers and sisters from these provinces to play their roles, particularly their financial role, in keeping this communion going,” Idowu-Fearon said.
Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak told his ACC colleagues that it is not that his church is unwilling to pay. Instead, he said, “we are dealing with how to keep the people together” in the two countries, given what they have faced in recent years.
The following day, the Rev. Bol Deng, the province’s clergy member, told the ACC that a conversation with the provincial secretary would result in a contribution to the ACC budget of the equivalent of $4,000.
“There is a fundamental policy of respect here,” ACC vice chair Elizabeth Paver said. “We would like everyone to be able to contribute something.”
She said the Standing Committee and the finance office is “very mindful that there are parts of our communion where it would be impossible to give.” Letters go out to all provinces asking if they can contribute any amount at all, Paver said.
Responding to questions about how it is determined what to ask from each province, Paver said the amount has been based on a province’s reported membership and the Gross Domestic Product of the country or countries in each province.
Paver, who is about to end her term on the ACC, said determining the size of the requested contribution has always been an issue. The finance committee has looked at how other similar groups determine the amount asked of their members. She also noted that it has been very hard to get the “same, detailed information from each province.”
The goal is “to find a fair and completely open way of asking,” she said. “It will continue to be looked at. If there was a simple solution we would have been able to present it to you today.”
Paver said the ACC leadership had never released a list such as the one the members were given “but we really felt that the time had come when we had to face up to this issue.”
When the General Convention passed its 2016-2018 budget last July, it restored the Episcopal Church’s contribution to the Anglican Communion Office to the $1.2 million level of two triennia ago. That restoration represented an increase of $500,000 over that which was budgeted for the 2013-2015 triennium, according to the introduction to that budget). However, that 2013-2015 amount was budgeted in error, it was later learned, and the church’s Executive Council modified the budget so that in the end the church gave slightly more than $1 million in those three years. That amount represented 18 percent of the total Anglican Communion Office budget.
The ACC is expected to consider a budget resolution on April 18 and members have begun discussing how to handle the non-payment issue.
The House of Deputies News page is also posting stories about the meeting.
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– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
Editor’s note: This story was updated April 13, 2016 at 1:20 p.m. local time to add information about the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan’s budgetary contribution.