Bob Prichard Reports:

This is the potentially the longest legislative day for the House of Deputies. The schedule calls for morning, afternoon, and (if needed) evening sessions.

The big issue for this morning will be consideration of the budget, which we received in a joint meeting with the bishops yesterday afternoon. The budget anticipated a 13% decrease in revenue over the next triennium, down in large measure because we haThe Revd Robert Prichardve exhausted the reserves in the current triennium and because the diocesan asking will be scaled down over three years from 21% to 19%.

The biggest single hit in the budget is World Mission. The Mission coordination and direction line items were reduced by 67% from $4,558,829 (draft budget) to $1,526,920. Missionary personnel were cut only 3%. The cut in missions corresponds roughly to the increase in “Legal Support of Dioceses,” a category in which there was a 900% increase from $300,000 to a $3million. The budget committee warned us that actual expenditures for legal fees might well be higher than that amount.

There were small dollar amount cuts in some advocacy programs with the line items for Racial Justice, lay ministry, and Women’s ministry eliminated. There were increases in the line items for support of Hispanic ministry, but cuts in some line items for ministry to African Americans. Aid to the historically black colleges was cut, for example.

Much of the attention in the last two days was on the House of Bishops, which has been responding to House of Deputies resolutions. In general the bishops have toned down the resolutions from the deputies. The bishops, for example, amended a House of Deputies proposal to change the canons on ordination in order to mandate the admission of transgendered persons to the ordination process (Virginia deputies voted 4-0 against that resolution in the lay order and 3-1 in favor in the clerical order). Rather than adding transgendered persons to the existing canon, the bishops simply removed all the existing protected categories and replaced them with the word “all.” All persons who are baptized have the right to apply to the ordination process, but not guarantee that they will ever be ordained. It seemed like a sensible solution. The Deputies will have to agree to that change. We might disagree, but at this point that might mean that the effort to change the canon fails, because the bishops might not have time to act on any further alteration.

The question here has not been whether the General Convention would say something in support of same-sex marriage, but rather what form such a statement would take. Bishop Jones of Virginia worked with a group of something like 25 bishops in order to draft a “moderate” statement. The result was a resolution calling for additional study with a report back to the 2012 convention and also acknowledge that there are those who disagree with the idea of such unions. More traditional bishops are saying that it was the best for which they could hope.