"from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every part with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love."
(Ephesians 4:16)

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Budget Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania is charged with presenting the 2018 Diocesan budget and I would like to make a statement regarding its importance. It has been over a year since my consecration as Bishop of this great and historic diocese. Our diocese is the birthplace of the Episcopal Church, and it represents the future of the church.

Together, we are building upon the faith of our Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania to impact the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, mission and not institutional maintenance must be our top priority. We want to bring His word to all; therefore we want to grow our churches and our Diocese.

From the day of my consecration over a year ago, I embarked on a pilgrimage to listen, learn and serve. I will continue this commitment throughout my service to you. After each pilgrimage visit, I prepared notes detailing your requests and needs. Thus, over the past 12 months, the staff of your diocese has focused on creating community, ensuring transparency, accountability and preparing for the next five years, all while accomplishing over 185 important goals. You will be hearing more about these accomplishments and our horizons in the convention message.

I carry the Bishop's call sheet to remind myself of the work you have called me to do with you. You sought the following qualities in your new Bishop:
  •  Energy.
  • A readiness for building for the future.
  • A commitment to everyone being heard and having a place.
  • A desire to grow through building up existing parishes and ministries and starting new ones.
  • A call to use our resources wisely - financial, human, and other resources as well.
  •  A longing to be relevant to one another and our surrounding communities.
  • A deep love for our tradition and history.
As stated previously, when I was called to this ministry - our paths aligned. Part of this alignment is creating a diocesan staff focused on service and realizing God's call to ministry. We realigned staff positions and are creating new frameworks to support and empower the congregations so that the diocesan staff may serve the churches and not the other way around.

This same commitment is reflected in work of the 2018 budget process. In order to ensure transparency and openness, we called for five additional budget hearings in addition to the regular pre-convention hearings. These extra sessions are in response to your request to have greater opportunities to comment and also allows for your input. This feedback is the opportunity for the budget to be adjusted to reflect the priorities of the entire Diocese.

Over the next few years, we will continue to refine our process so that the budget is clear and readable. It is our intention and goal over the next few years to publish an annual report that would detail financial information of the Diocese.

This is of crucial importance because at its heart the diocesan budget is a theological document that reflects our missional priorities. I want to emphasize that this is "our diocesan budget", parishes large and small, those with rectors and priests-in-charge. It belongs to all of us as followers of Jesus Christ in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

As we move forward, the Diocesan B udget s will reflect the following:
  1. Emphasize mission within the Diocese, Episcopal Church, and globally.
  2. The need to empower and support our congregations.
  3. Continually striving not to increase the Assessment (Mutual Mission Support). 
  4. Create and set realistic expectations as to the Pledges (Sacred Gifts) that congregations can give to support our mutual mission.
  5. Support new models of ministry in which deaneries work together to build up our churches.
  6. Accurately and transparently show all costs and expenditures.
  7. Place emphasis on internal and external communication from the Office of the Diocese.
  8. Create a path to plant and grow Hispanic congregations. 
In line with this vision, we have begun this process in the 2018 Diocesan budget, and had important results. These are a few examples:
  1. Working collaboratively with the Finance Committee and the Standing Committee, we kept the Assessment (Mutual Mission Support) amount at the same level as previous years. This will allow congregations time to strengthen and grow.
  2. Reorganized the Diocesan Office staff without adding positions or additional expense while placing a renewed emphasis on mission.
  3. Utilizing our $65 million dollar endowment to develop a special fund that would grant $300K a year for five years to assist parishes for physical improvements that would facilitate the growth of missions. Congregations would apply to the Finance Committee/Deans for grants of up to $30K.
  4. Supported St. John's, Norristown and St. Mary's Bainbridge in conjunction with their deaneries to build up these churches.
  5. Revived St. Stephen's and St. John's, Norristown as missions. These churches were closed last July and now are experiencing new life.
  6. Brought off-budget costs of property management clearly onto 2018 budget to improve transparency.
  7. Restructured the Youth Program to serve as a resource for congregations rather than the source of programs. Within two years we hope to expand this to include a coordinator for millennials and young families.
  8. Worked with Diocesan Council for a complete review of mission church process, including how a church becomes a mission, what is the timeline, what are the goals of mission status, etc.
  9. Brought in a new finance team without a disruption in service or budgetary deadlines.
  10. Created a budget page on the diocesan website that will include a summary of financials, audits, endowments, scholarships, etc. 
Of course we will always be faced with concerns regarding money and people. And so there are a few areas where we have challenges that we can turn into opportunities:
  1. In aligning all costs into a unified budget, we were left with a $427K deficit. It was covered when the diocesan staff and the Treasurer identified undistributed income in the endowment. We will not operate in this fashion. We are working to preserve our commitment to mission while not raising Assessments (Mutual Mission Support). While the solution is not yet clear, we have faith that, as long as we are committed to sharing the Gospel, God will show us the way forward.
  2. We must either increase income and/or replenish the fund to cover the cost of the property maintenance fund while concurrently identifying uses for those churches that are no longer active.
  3. We must accurately forecast the amount of income we can responsibly draw from our endowments.
  4. The staff of our diocese is significantly smaller than other dioceses of our size. Bishop Lee is fully retiring, and as your Bishop I will have to take on extra duties to meet canonical and pastoral responsibilities. We must envision how the void he leaves can be filled so that our mission work can continue.
  5. Continue to live into a theology of abundance and not scarcity.
I would also like to comment on Wapiti. Over the past year, we have conducted a complete accounting of usage, terminated loose agreements, instituted new rules, and activated previous regulations. I have also asked that a complete accounting be made of the amounts expended and the total amount invested in the property. It will then be posted as part of our improved financial reporting. I am pleased to say that churches and vestries within the Diocese are using the property for meetings and retreats. It is currently an asset on the books, and we need to be good stewards of our resources. Part of being stewards includes assuring we do not lose the sacred resources already invested there. As a former economic developer and one who created a successful retreat center, we will journey together and envision the future of this property.

In closing, I thank the Budget Committee, Finance Committee, Treasurer, Diocesan Staff, Diocesan Council, and Standing Committee for their work. I would also like to thank you, the Diocese of Pennsylvania, for your faithfulness and love. I consider your gifts of time and treasure to be sacred and they will be put to good use as we work together to serve the world in the name of Jesus Christ. We are creating this budget together and it reflects our diocesan commitment to live into the Great Commission. The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania will lead the Episcopal Church. Together, we will grow this church. Together, we will be a presence in the world. Together, we will proclaim Jesus Christ.

I am blessed to serve as you Bishop. God bless you always and know you are in my prayers. Please pray for this diocese and this sacred budget process.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. GutiƩrrez
XVI Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Visit our website: www.diopa.org
Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Visit our blog  View on Instagram