Canon 20 – Of the Funding of the Ministry and Mission of the Diocese of Atlanta
(adopted at Diocesan Council, November 2005.)
We the people, clergy, and parishes of the Diocese of Atlanta acknowledge our need to give of our time, talent, and treasure for the work of Christ. We further embrace our strong heritage, expressed both in the Bible and in longstanding Tradition, of parishes supporting one another and joining together to accomplish the work of Christ. We acknowledge our responsibility to support the episcopacy and to provide for the mission of the Church. We recognize the tithe as the minimum standard of biblical giving, and we acknowledge the important example our parishes provide to parish members by practicing the tithe. Finally, we feel strongly the bonds we have toward one another as members of the Body of Christ. We therefore desire that funding of the ministry and mission of the Diocese be accomplished fairly and equitably, within a framework that promotes both compassion and accountability. We seek a framework in which no parish will be required to contribute more than a fair share, and no parish will be allowed to contribute less than a fair share. To these ends:
Ten percent (a tithe) of the average of the past three year Total Operating Revenue (as reported on the Annual Parochial Report) shall be the minimum amount each parish shall give in support of the Ministry and Mission Budget of the Diocese. On or before June 15 of each year, the Finance Committee shall give notice to each parish of its ten-percent minimum contribution (based on its Annual Parochial Report data) for the Mission and Ministry Budget of the Diocese for the upcoming year. In the event that a parish has not filed a timely Annual Parochial Report, the Finance Committee shall substitute the most recently filed parochial report for its calculations. Should the parish subsequently file an Annual Parochial Report showing Total Operating Revenues differing from that used in the computation, the Finance Committee shall adjust the required contribution to the Budget of the Diocese, as appropriate.
For most parishes, the ten-percent minimum will be an appropriate fair share. For some parishes an appropriate fair-share may be a voluntary contribution of more than ten-percent. Because of extenuating circumstances, a parish may be unable to give the ten-percent minimum and shall be afforded an appeal opportunity as described herein. Not later than August 15, all parishes shall acknowledge, in writing to the Director of Finance, their commitment to give ten-percent, more than ten percent, or state their intent to appeal.
Any parish believing that, for good cause, it will be unable to give a minimum of ten percent to the Budget of the Diocese may file a written appeal signed by the Rector (or Vicar) and Senior Warden not later than August 15 with an Assessment Appeal Board. The Assessment Appeal Board shall meet with representatives of the parish filing an appeal. The parish will be given an opportunity to request a reduction from the ten-percent minimum contribution for the year in question. The Assessment Appeal Board shall operate pursuant to guidelines and timelines provided by the Executive Board. In making its determination, the Assessment Appeal Board shall consider, among other factors, the parish’s current monthly financial report, the level of stewardship training and education in the parish, the nature of the annual stewardship campaign in the parish, any extraordinary circumstances faced by the parish, and other data as considered relevant by the parish and the Assessment Appeal Board. After such review, the Assessment Appeal Board may reduce the percentage of the assessment for that parish for that year or affirm that ten percent is a minimum assessment. Such decision, and the reasons therefore, shall be communicated in writing to the Rector (or Vicar) and Senior Warden, the Bishop, Executive Board, and the Director of Finance of the Diocese. In the event that the Assessment Appeal Board grants a reduction, that Board shall refer the parish to the Commission on Stewardship and the Commission for Congregational Growth and Development. These Commissions will assist the parish leadership in developing a plan to enhance stewardship and enable the parish to increase its giving to the ten-percent minimum.
In the event that annual contributions from any parish fall short of the minimum ten-percent or the reduced amount set by the Assessment Appeal Board, at the next Annual Council of the Diocese the cleric and lay delegates of that parish will be denied vote on all matters of business and denied voice regarding matters related to finance or the expenditure of diocesan funds. In addition, such parishes shall not call any assistant or associate clergy, nor fill vacancies for such clergy. In the second successive year of not contributing the fair-share amount, any such parish shall, by operation of this canon, have its status changed to that of an Aided Parish of this Diocese.
The Assessment Appeal Board shall consist of three lay and three cleric members. The Executive Board, with the consent of the Bishop, shall appoint these six members of the Assessment Appeal Board for a three-year term. Initially, the Executive Board shall establish staggered classes of this board, with two people sitting for a one year term, two people for a two-year term, and the final two for a full three-year term. Thereafter, the Executive Board shall appoint two members each year to serve a full three-year term. The Bishop shall appoint annually a convener as a seventh member, who will vote only to break ties. The Executive Board will make a good faith effort to appoint members of the Assessment Appeal Board as follows: two will be appointed from parishes having Total Operating Revenues in the upper one-third of the diocese, two will be appointed from parishes having Total Operating Revenues in the middle one-third of the diocese, and two will be appointed from parishes having Total Operating Revenues in the lower one-third of the diocese. In addition, the Executive Board will make a good faith effort to ensure broad geographical representation on the Assessment Appeal Board.
Every congregation in the Diocese shall include in its annual budget the amount of its fair-share contribution (assessment) for the support of the Mission and Ministry Budget of the Diocese. A portion of the annual contribution is to be paid to the Diocese on or before the twentieth day of each month.
The Executive Board shall prepare a tentative Diocesan Mission and Ministry Budget and send it to each Vestry. Each Vestry shall, by a date set by the Executive Board, consider the mission and ministry priorities of the Diocese and report recommended changes in the Ministry and Mission Budget to the Executive Board. The Executive Board, in its discretion, may develop additional means of soliciting recommendations from the people and parishes of the Diocese. When the process for receiving such recommendations is ended, the Executive Board, with the assistance of the chairs of Diocesan commissions, committees, and the Diocesan staff, shall develop a Proposed Ministry and Mission Budget that reflects the mission priorities of the Diocese.
Council shall consider the Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget, make amendments as desired, and approve and return the resulting Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget to the Executive Board. Using the Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget approved by Council, the Executive Board shall establish and adopt the Mission and Ministry Budget in its final form. Copies of the budget in its final form shall be mailed to all Vestries. The Executive Board shall give direction to and administer the gross amounts budgeted through its various departments. The Treasurer shall make a detailed financial status report for the previous and current year to Council in session.
This canon shall take effect on January 1, 2006, in preparation for the 2007 budget year.