Paying for the hierarchy

This is going to be a very parochial blog entry. It is based on the discussion we had yesterday during our deanery clericus meeting about the diocesan budget and the bishop’s vision for where he sees the future of that budget and how the congregations of the diocese will fund that budget.

We will consider, at diocesan convention this year, a proposal to change the way apportionment is paid to the diocese by the parishes and missions of the Diocese of Northern California. Currently, there is a tiered system based on a point system for clergy compensation. There are roughly seven ranges that increase the rate a congregation pays from class A at 10% to class G at 25%. The smallest congregations pay the lowest percentage of their net disposable income and the largest congregations pay the highest percentage.

What is proposed is that there be a progressive tax rate. 10% for he first $60,000 of net disposable income, 16% of $60,001 to $120,000 and 22% over $120,000. The primary reason for this change is that on January 1st, the congregations will be responsible for paying health insurance and workman’s compensation premiums themselves. Currently, the diocese pays these costs. The largest and smallest congregations will pay less in apportionment with this system, after taking account for insurance premium payments. Our Saviour will pay more in insurance and apportionment costs next year. We will get a subsidy for next year to make up the difference. The diocese will get less money next year than this year under the new system.

We heard yesterday that the bishop’s vision is to have a flat 10% apportionment to pay for the Office of the Bishop with an additional 5% where the congregations will pick and choose which programs they wish to support at the diocesan level. The extra 5% may be voluntary.

I whole heartedly support Bishop Beisner for taking us in this direction. Ministry happens on the local level and not on the diocesan level. The more resources local congregations have, the better they will be able to spread the gospel to their communities. True, Our Saviour will initially be hurt by this process. But in the long run, we will be blessed.

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