Posts Tagged ‘financial’

Money Matters

Friday, January 26th, 2018

As our Stewardship 2018 campaign winds down, parishioners have their final opportunity to think about what they plan to give to our church this year.

While I tend myself to be pretty traditional, striving for a tithe (10%) or more of my salary, I recognize that there are many ways to look at stewardship. The Spirit of God moves people in different ways.

That said, I also recognize that many of my colleagues are much more doctrinaire about tithing. They believe that God has high expectations of all of us. To them, the signed pledge card and proportional giving should be the norm.

However we think of these issues ourselves, there is no doubt that in the realm of the Spirit, money matters. —J. Douglas Ousley


Socialism Reconsidered

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

I have always been struck by a major difference between the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the United Sates: the way clergy are paid. In England, all clergy receive basically the same salary or “stipend;” there are minor increases over the base for bishops and for clergy in London.

This wage is not high–equalling around $40,000 a year. A clergy family of four would qualify for public assistance, though they do receive housing in most cases.

Despite the low stipends, I have heard many English clergy claim their system is morally superior to the American scheme, whereby clergy in affluent parishes can make much higher salaries than those in poor areas. But a recent book by Dean Martyn Percy of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford claims that the Church of England would be rejuvenated by the American system, which would reward initiative and encourage church growth.

This is not to deny the moral value of the egalitarian formula. But, practically speaking, giving all clergy a substandard wage buys equality without fairness–and it does little to recruit new young clergy, which the Church of England desperately needs. At a time of increasingly left-of-center politics in the Episcopal Church hierarchy, the “capitalist” proposal by the very prominent liberal, Dean Percy is intriguing. —J. Douglas Ousley


Slaves to Wall Street

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Endowments are a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, they provide money that doesn’t have to be raised every year from people who are current attendees of the parish. They often–as in Incarnation’s case–can support buildings that otherwise couldn’t be maintained.

On the other hand, they can lull a congregation into believing they don’t need to give sacrificially to their church. They let the endowment will pick up the tab. That attitude can limit new work in the parish or can lead to cutbacks and deferred maintenance or even to drawing down the endowment. And the idea that we need only give a modest tip to the parish every year isn’t likely to deepen our commitment to the work of Jesus Christ.

So the Wall Street jitters vibrate into our own endowed parish. But, at the least, they may spur our Stewardship 2016 program–and financial downturns usually bring new people to church! —J. Douglas Ousley


Costs of Discipleship

Friday, February 10th, 2012

A recent mailing to parishes in the Diocese of New York asked them to “share in the celebration” of the consecration of the new Bishop Co-Adjutor by contributing to the purchase of new vestments for the bishop. Clergy were asked to pass the invitation along to parishioners “to encourage participation by everyone who would like to contribute.

This is hardly an unusual or unreasonable request. What seems unusual to me is the dollar amount needed: “about $10,000.00.” Admittedly, purple cassocks and other episcopal garb are surely expensive. And the total is equivalent to around 25 cents per New York Episcopalian.

Still, at a time when so many parishes are struggling financially–a point stressed by the new co-adjutor during the election process, putting the dollar amount out there could be off-putting. —J. Douglas Ousley


A Prophet in the Congregation

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I have been happy to recommend to all and sundry a new book by an Incarnation parishioner and Vestry member. Gretchen Morgenson’s Reckless Endangerment provides many insights into the current financial crisis. Written with Josh Rosner, it is also an exciting read. The book has recently topped the business bestseller charts in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

I have also often felt that while Gretchen’s journalism deals with the most secular of topics–money and greed, it also conveys a high moral purpose. I would say that she is in the tradition of the biblical prophets. To say that she is on a mission is to use the right word. —J. Douglas Ousley