ECUSA Executive Council Holds Weeklong Meeting, Discusses Future Funding and Development

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) concluded its weeklong meeting in Boise, Idaho, on Nov. 4, 2004. The meeting, which provided the governing body of the denomination a chance to review past developments and future prospects, closed with a statement urging Episcopalians on all levels of leadership to respond to the Windsor report thoroughly and thoughtfully.

The Bishop Harry Bainbridge of Idaho, chair of the board of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), reported to the council of the progress made in the agency’s planned programming for 2005. Bainbridge explained that next year’s program will cooperate with nearly all African churches - with the exception of Uganda, whose bishop publicly denounced the ECUSA for ordaining a homosexual bishop and refused to receive grants from its American brethren.

Meanwhile, at the council’s opening session, the general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada thanked the ECUSA for its financial contribution to the northern church during hard times; this year, the ECUSA gave $250,000 in gifts after the Canadian church was sued by former students in native Indian government schools that the church administered.

Archdeacon James Boyles said the gift, will help the program of 11 Canadian dioceses and the national church, which together spent more than $8.5 million on legal costs on lawsuits in a complex cost-sharing with the federal government.

The council also approved two significant proposals for “extra - budgetary funding” for 2005-6. The first fund, amounting to $60,000, would be used to start a comprehensive plan for new mission funding.

"The compelling reasons for moving forward at this time are that the Episcopal Church has an avid and growing sense of mission and that there is no current program for nurturing and encouraging major gifts for mission at the national church level," said council member Tom Gossen.

He said there are Episcopalians who have financial abundance, demonstrated leadership and passion for transforming the world. "We want to invite them into this ministry," he said.

In terms of the ECUSA’s policies on the Middle East, the council decided to delay any decisions to divest for at least one year.

"No action will be taken without conversation with our Jewish partners at home and abroad," said the Bishop Catherine S. Roskam, suffragan of New York and chair of the council's International Concerns Committee.

Throughout the year, a group of Episcopalians will be involved in an yearlong study of companies and projects that promote violence in the volatile region.