Monday, September 7, 2009

Diocese of Michigan - Lost and Adrift

I received my regular e-mailing of the Diocese of Michigan's "The Record Weekly" in my Inbox this morning. And, even though I spent 6.5 years inside the belly of the beast, what I read from Herb Gunn in that email still managed to stun me.
A comprehensive visioning project is underway in the Diocese of Michigan. The project grew--actually shrank--from the Extended Ministries Fund (EMF) Task Force that began two years ago to study the appropriate use of the ministry fund. Funds in the EMF are unrestricted, but the EMF policy states that the corpus is not to be used without specific authorization from Diocesan Convention. Approximately five million dollars in market-driven appreciated value has been used for operating expenses over the past eight years, but as the financial markets have declined, the appreciated value has disappeared.
It was somewhat refreshing to see Herb admit that things are shrinking in the Diocese of Michigan. (As the joke goes: How do you make a small fortune in the Episcopal Church? Answer: Start with a large fortune.) And it was not news to me that EDOMI is using a "Ministries" fund to cover operating expenses.

Nor did it surprise me overly much that an outside consultant was being funded from this same "Ministries" fund (all failing organization hire outside consultants when the answers given by insiders to "Why are we failing? do not satisfy them):
In October 2008, Diocesan Convention voted to allocate $325,000 for a comprehensive survey and visioning exercise for the diocese. Diocesan Council created the Extended Ministries Fund Phase One Steering Committee (POSC) and empowered it to find the project manager and launch the study that would help clarify ministry priorities to which EMF resources might support. That steering committee worked through the winter and spring to discern and define a strategy for the project. A proposal seeking an outside consultant was created and candidates were interviewed for the project.
Good taste (what little I have of it) prevents me from commenting at length on the decision to name something the POS Committee. The surprise was this next bit:
The new Diocese of Michigan project is called RSVP--Revitalization and Strategic Visioning Project--and formally kicks off this month. The project will identify core values of the Diocese of Michigan, a fresh mission statement for the diocese, and a set of specific vision areas. The aggregate of this work will form the foundation of short and long-term planning; will affect program, ministry and budget decisions, as well as provide clarity of purpose and identity for the diocese.

Core Values of the diocese help articulate, "This is who we are, this is what we are all about, and this is why we do the things we do." A Mission Statement answers the questions: "What is our purpose and why do we exist?" The Vision Areas are statements that paint a picture of a desired future that can be realized in the next five to 10 years.
Now, is it just me, or should any member church within the body of Christ already know its Core Values?? This is astounding. And as far as a Mission Statement, what say we begin with ... I dunno, just thinking out loud here ... the Great Commission?

I already knew that the Diocese of Michigan (nay, the entire Episcopal Church) was lost and adrift. What floored me was their extreme candor in admitting the same.