Thursday, March 20, 2008

Changes in missionary compensation prompted by concerns over equity, budget constraints

From EpiscopalLife Online, it looks like budget cuts, they are a'coming [boldface mine]:

Missionaries who work outside of the United States under the auspices of the Episcopal Church will soon see major changes to their compensation.

According to a letter from the Rev. David Copley, Anglican and Global Relations mission personnel officer, sent to all overseas missionaries, the church will no longer pay them a monthly stipend (about $500, in most cases) or cover their airfare, relocation expenses, language study, vaccinations, and any health expenses not covered by insurance. . .

Copley, who works in the church's Office of Anglican and Global Relations, said in the letter and a subsequent interview with ENS that the decision was made in the face of what he called "the realities" of a $50,000 increase in health-insurance premiums for this year, a five percent cut in the current Episcopal Church budget and the $130,000 cost to provide increased pensions contributions for lay missionaries in 2008. . .

Copley said the alternative to the compensation changes was to cut the number of missionaries in order to balance the budget.

"For some of you, this will mean an increase in benefits with the addition of a lay pension component, but for others this will mean that there will be a reduction in support," Copley acknowledged in his letter.

The decision affects about 70 missionaries, for whom the new package will go into effect at the next renewal of their Letter of Understanding with his office, Copley said.

"Missionaries will be asked to raise funds to cover other costs," according to the letter.

Copley, who spent seven years as a missionary in Liberia and Bolivia, acknowledged "it is a lot of money" to have to raise, in addition to what most missionaries routinely gather for their work. He added that he hopes the missionaries' sending congregations and dioceses will look seriously at their financial commitment to the people they send out to minister in the name of the church.

"The hope is that people will get even more involved in the lives of the people they're sending out," he told ENS.

The General Convention budget is "finite," Copley told ENS. "We're hoping that parishes and dioceses will step up to fill the gap," he added. . .

[Randall] Giles [a lay missionary in India for nearly eight years] also said he worries that the changes in compensation will result in a change in the Episcopal Church's missionary efforts. He doubts that there will be many people who can commit to being "long-term presences" overseas "unless they are of absolutely independent means." As a result, Giles said, there may be more people who can only work as missionaries for a few years and may not have the same commitment to the work.

Read it all. Remind me again how much ECUSA is spending on litigation??

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