Friday, May 26, 2006


Closing down

Well, I'm sure that it is painfully obvious by now, but just to make it official, there will be no new posts on ECUSA Dollars. It was fun for a while, but then watching dioceses tank, even dioceses that deserve to tank, got pretty depressing.

Plus, after a while, it felt a lot like beating a dead horse. There is no question now that GC 2003 hurt a lot of diocesan bottom lines, both conservative and liberal. I hope they like what their money bought them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


In the eye of the storm

Hmmm, I wonder how New Hampshire is doing? I'm not sure why I didn't hunt this down for myself long ago (it might have something to do with the shall we say, "casual" posting schedule here at ecusadollars). But I didn't. Luckily, a helpful reader forwarded me a link to their 2005 budget.

In it, we can learn interesting things. For instance, according to the budget, Parish Fair Share Giving is going up up up! By their numbers, it was $1,185,278 in 2003, 1,358,138 projected for 2004, and $1,423,229 budgeted in 2005. However, something interesting is happening here. While fair share giving looks to be going up, there's a little line underneath called "Parishes (sic) Emergencies and Contingencies." Guess what, It's got a negative sign in front of it, and it's going up every year too! For instance, it shows a negative $126,630 budgeted for 2004. However, their 2004 projection is even steeper, a negative $161,663. The 2005 budget calls for a negative $186,190.

So what's the deal? It looks to me like a case of creative accounting. The bottom line is that while New Hampshire projected bringing in slightly more money in 2004 than it 2003 ($11,198). "Parish Emergencies" ate up $35,000 more dollars than they budgeted them to take.

So, did electing Bishop Robinson cost the Diocese of New Hampshire (I mean besides his $144,710 price tag for salary, housing allowance ($67 large) tax, pension and insurance)?

I'm not sure. They certainly had to make a nearly $35,000 downward adjustment in parish giving during 2004. On top of that, they're spending more than they're bringing in. But then again, when it comes to real dollars they actually saw a modest uptick between 2003 and 2004.

I'm conflicted. To the Green Column with them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Tennessee finances tumble

According to the diocesan profile being used by the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee in their effort to find their next bishop, 2004 wasn't a year of financial good cheer.

Last year the Diocese experienced a $200,000 gap between the preliminary budget and pledges. In 2003 budget constraints caused us to delay the planting of a new church for over a year. (p. 7)

While I can't seem to find a 2004 budget for Tennessee, their 2005 budget was a "balanced," 1.4 million. That points to $200,000 representing an over 10 percent drop in funding.

Worse, for what has been the fastest growing diocese in ECUSA, (eight new churches planted since 1996, a 55 percent increase in communicants between 1991-2002), the events of GC 2003 put the brakes on growth. According to Bishop Betram Nelson Herlong, (p. 2) 2003 saw a loss of 165 baptized members, 122 communicants in good standing and 51 church school students.

While Herlong acknowledges that some of the financial problems the diocese faces are related to parish redirection. He resists the urge that so many bishops seem to have to then call those parishes names and question their Christianity. Bravo! Bishop. Now, if only you could convince some of your compatriots to take the same course, we might all get along better.

Anyway, however you slice it, GC 2003 had a significant negative financial and missionary impact on the Diocese of Tennessee. To the red column they go.

Oh, yes, I did steal the initial link from the Rev. Canon Dr. (I think that's all of cool titles he's got a right to use) Kendall Harmon's 800 pound gorilla of a weblog. Thanks Kendall!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Selling the Farm in Fond du Lac

Well, I'm not sure what it means, but the Diocese of Fond Du Lac in Wisconsin just parted with the oldest church in the state, (pdf pg. 3) selling it to a group called "the Divine Temple Church of God in Christ."

Christ Church, also known as the "Mother Church of the Northwest" first opened its doors on Sept. 16, 1829. It was the first Episcopal congregation in the State of Wisconsin. The church closed its doors for the last time on April 27, 2003.

Why does it matter? Well, I'm not sure it does. It's just part of a long and continuly lengthening list of closed churches, sold conference centers and moved diocesan offices that seem to be the order of the day in ECUSA right now.

It's bad when you have to sell your history.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


El Deficits in El Camino Real

Sooner or later, you've got to balance the budget. While on paper at least, it appears that the le affair du Robinson (ED: yes, I don't know French) hasn't had a significant effect on giving in the Diocese of El Camino Real, the diocese seems to have had a nasty habit of spending more than they were bringing in. In fact, in both 2003 and 2004, budgeted expenditures respectively ran $58,302 and $45,060 over budgeted income. The requested 2005 budget would have taken things to a whole new level, running $336,401 over income. However, common sense prevailed, and for the first time in at least several years, the Diocese proposed a balanced 2005 budget.

Of course, financial fuzziness is old hat in the Diocese. (See this nice accountants' letter from 2003). That, taken with the fact that I can't seem to find any information that tells us how "actual" giving has been leads me to give the Diocese of El Camino Real a coveted spot in the Green Column.

Congratulations El Camino Real, I don't have a clue how you're really doing!


Not getting prettier in Virginia

A helpful anonymous source delivered a nice spreadsheet outlining the Diocese of Virginia's bottom line between 1999 and 2005. As we covered earlier, the Diocese got slammed by a whopping $845,000 decrease in parish giving between 2003-2004. Things aren't much better for 2005. According to this source, the Diocese is still facing a $689,100 decrease when compared to 2003 levels. That means a budgeted increase in parish giving of $155,900 between 2004 and 2005.

What are they doing with this planned-for mini rebound? Giving it almost all of it to the national church of course! While the Diocese of Virginia turned $630,000 over in 2004, the 2005 number (assuming I'm reading this right) is $769,000, or about four fifths of the total increase in parish giving they collected.

Of course, they've still got to collect it. It will be interesting to see if it all shows up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


hmmm, guess it's not the economy

Guess what, now and then ECUSA does have the guts to buck a social trend!

Too bad the latest trend they seem to be bucking is a five percent increase in charitable giving during 2004 reported by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel (the mysterious editor of this humble blog thanks a mysterious correspondent North of the border for the link).

That's right, while ECUSA was happily trying to explain away a 12 percent decrease in giving to the national church during 2004, everyone else was contributing to "a new record for philanthropic giving in the United States."

"Well", you say, "maybe it was that darn Tsunami that skewed the numbers." No can do partner. Truth is that, "contributions made in 2004 for relief after the December 26 tsunami that devastated the regions surrounding the Indian Ocean are a very small portion of the estimated total, less than one-half of 1 percent."

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm just speechless. It almost seems like ECUSA was "obfuscating" or some other big word that means not really giving us the whole story about their financial issues.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Minuses in Michigan

Okay, there just isn't a lot of clever word-plays that work with "Michigan." - but one has to work with what one is given. I can't help the fact that Bishop Wendell Gibbs gave me a $350,000 deficit to report.

Bishop Gibb's comment comes from the June issue of The Record, which is the diocesan newspaper.

In addition, he explained, the revenue from the tithes and offerings from congregations is running $350,000 behind the projections for 2005. The result is that Diocesan Council will be considering a $1.1 million reduction from the present 2005 budget.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to locate a copy of their complete budget by searching their website so I don't know how this shortfall compares to their hoped-for giving. However, I do think it's safe to say that five-figure shortfalls and six-figure planned reductions equal another member of the Red Ink Column.


The other (not upper) S.C.

I kind of expected this. It turns out that while Diocese of Upper South Carolina is having a tough time making ends meet, the Diocese of South Carolina is doing fine. In fact, a helpful reader sent the following quote from their convention this year:

“The Diocesan budget for 2005 is up over $100,000 and congregational income is up well over a million dollars. Sadly the budgets of most of our neighboring dioceses are down, and down significantly.” - Bishop Salmon

When I'm able to find their actual budget documents, I'll link them. Until then I'm willing to go out on a limb and give those unhip orthodox Anglicans in the Diocese of South Carolina the honor of becoming only the second diocese to join the Blue Ink Column.

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