As Executive Council gathered for its penultimate meeting before General Convention, heavy rain was pelting the south windows of the Maritime Institute like hard little fists, making everyone grateful for the solace of dry warm spaces. This was Executive Council’s third meeting of this triennium in this venue, a reflection of a money-saving strategy to contract to meet in a couple of places, Linthicum Heights, MD, and Salt Lake City, UT. In prior triennia, Executive Council had moved around the church, meeting once in each of our nine provinces, but our new discipline of choosing only two money-saving venues is a reflection of our willingness to adapt to changing financial conditions.
The draft budget for the 2013-2015 triennium overshadowed all the other Executive Council business at this meeting. The budget conversation began at the June 2011 Executive Council meeting, also held at the Maritime Institute, when members were challenged to “change the conversation,” to seek a way to take on the adaptive challenges facing all denominations in a post-Christian era of declining interest in the institutional church. The Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) already had begun working with the treasurer in mid-2011 on a financial projection model and determined that the current spending model is unsustainable. At that time, it was pointed out that the chairs of Executive Council’s standing committees had previously not provided much input into the budget process. The Executive Council’s newly formed Executive Committee was charged with developing a process for the triennium budget that would challenge the church to new ways of engaging God’s mission.