This is a post that some folks would tell me I shouldn't put up. It's probably not wise and it's probably not a career move and it's probably ill advised.
And I'm doing it anyway.
What follows are MY opinions. They do not represent the diocese which employs me or the congregation that is my home. This is mine and mine alone. If you need to be ticked off at someone it's me and me alone.
On Wednesday of last week my bishop took the hour and a half long drive down here to my little corner of the world. I knew what he was there to talk about I just didn't know how bad it was going to be. We found an empty office and sat down. There was no point in beating around the bush, he said. We're cutting your job by 20%, from 5 days a week to 4. The reason wasn't because I don't have enough to do (HA!) or because I haven't done a good job. The reason is budgetary. The bishop had to find some $85,000 dollars in savings to balance the budget. And a bunch of us saw our wages get cut. A friend of mine lost her job.
And I'm angry.
This is the part I probably shouldn't write. Why are we in such straits? Because some congregations and some individuals have chosen to withhold their contributions from the diocese. If you follow the Episcopal church you know why so I won't go into the details. Let me note that while I may not agree with their theological position I respect their right to it and the anger they feel about what has happened. But I have a problem with them playing financial games to "punish" people.
Episcopalians are defined at the diocesan level. We are gathered around a bishop. When we decide that our congregational needs/wants/desires/thoughts are more important than the diocesan ones we are rejecting a fundamental part of the classical/traditional Episcopal church. If you want to disagree with those diocesan thoughts please do. We have a variety of methods for doing that and a long history of encouraging just such discourse. It's the problem a lot of folks have with Anglicanism in general, the ability to hold two conflicting points of view in tension within the same body. But we seem to have left that behind for mutual "my way or the highway"s. The idea that traditional anglicanism is being defended by abandoning core understandings like the centrality of the diocesan structure is inexplicable to me. Anglicanism has been defined by our liturgy not our theology.
But when I set aside my anger (which I will grant you comes from the hurt my family suffers) I need to note this. My question is who are you punishing? Just in regards to my own little patch - If we continue down this path here's what I see happening in youth ministry:
Costs Go Up The amount of money that can be used to underwrite base costs for camps and Happening will decline. Those costs will rotate onto the families of our youth. It will make these events less inviting, and less accessible.
Programs Cut This isn't fear mongering. Programs will either become economically unfeasible and be eliminated or the programs themselves will suffer cuts to try and keep them afloat. We'll eliminate portions or reduce the scope of things like camp (maybe 3 days instead of 7). Maybe good will come of that but it's not sustainable in the long run. In the long run you don't see growth by consistently cutting investment.
Growth slows As fewer assets are available, and more of them are put into maintaining current programs all new ministry is left to shift for its own. We move away from mission towards maintenance.
There's a possibility that next year will see greater cuts in the position of the Youth Missioner or even possible elimination.
I don't want this to be a tirade against my traditional brothers and sisters. That's not my intent. But I will demand from them an answer to the question I asked above: Who's being punished?
Yeah I probably shouldn't have posted this.