The Brotherhood fought hard in 1956 for a much-needed reform/innovation: The General Budget administered by The General Board. Combining the various financial requirements (appeals) in one budgetary instrument to effect accountability and efficiency made a lot of sense. While the policy may not have achieved all that was intended relative to episcopal oversight, it briefly reined in some systemic abuses. There are major flaws to this approach which now call for revision. We need to decentralize the budget.
For over a decade we waved the banner of a “zero based budget.” The concept is going nowhere as we have created sacred cows in the budget. Moreover, the older thinking about “everyone getting something” is unsustainable in the current funding environment. People want to support those projects that are most important to them. The support of a “general” budget is anathema in a post denominational era. The church can no longer provide major funding to subsidiary instutions beyond the strategic control of the central body.
Failure to decentralize will bring doom to both some of our important initiatives as well as the basic structure of the denomination. The General Budget should focus on the core administrative needs of the denomination with a different approach to the support of various ministries. Ultimately, we must decide on the mission on which we can concentrate and adequately fund. Most of our benevolence and ancillary groups can generate their own funding stream and relieve some responsibility from the General Budget.
Our most compelling projects, such as education, SADA, components and various district initiatives have the capacity to engage in major fundraising beyond the central denominational budget. Most, in fact, do raise significant sums beyond the annual allocations. If they did/do not, their mission and existence rightly come under scrutiny.
We need to retain the 25% reduction to the General Budget for the remainder of the 2020-2024 Quadrennium. The proposed budget should reflect the same. Two areas which should have funds restored to the 2016-2020 levels are the educational institutions in Districts 14-20 and the ecumenical relations section. The impact of the reduction in school allocations has been far more negative among our global institutions. Realistically, we cannot maintain leadership and influence in the ecumenical community if we are not going to take seriously the financial support of those entities to which we belong. We cannot assert our “greatness” and cry broke at the same time. We should Represent.
Another perspective to be addressed in the next post is Double Dipping.