Dear People of the Diocese:
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact ministry and operations several months ago, leaders of congregations across the Diocese of Central New York have been faithfully stewarding human, financial, and spiritual resources to continue sharing God’s love and hope in our communities. In the same way, the Diocesan Board has been hard at work to ensure that we are honoring the trust of the diocesan community as stewards of your faithful gifts. Following a period of significant discernment and conversation with ministry leaders, the Board passed a revised 2020 Budget for the Diocese on May 19th, reflecting changes to ministry priorities and operational realities in light of the pandemic. We think it is important to share our assumptions and the process we followed, so that you understand the decisions represented by the revised budget.
In March it became clear that a revision to the 2020 Budget would be necessary. The Board was determined to alleviate financial pressure on parishes by offering a two-month diocesan assessment waiver. This waiver reduced income for diocesan operations and ministries, and we projected a further decrease in income due to the economic downturn. At the same time, our priorities were changing: major meetings and events were going virtual, reducing some expenses, and it was clear that funds would be better directed to crisis management and to the care and support of parishes and parish leaders. The Board implemented a temporary spending freeze for diocesan ministries and began the process of revising the 2020 budget.
The revision process followed our diocesan Rule of Life: we prayed, listened, connected, spoke, shared, and responded. The Board held a virtual retreat to discern ministry priorities, and we listened to ministry leaders about their challenges and hopes for ministry in 2020. Throughout, our Vision and Mission Statements guided us as we sought to make decisions reflecting “A world healed by love.” We identified the following priorities for diocesan ministry in 2020:
- Support parishes and parish leaders, including parish leaders’ well-being, building up skills and supporting equipment purchases for online ministry, and working with parishes experiencing financial challenges;
- Offer formation opportunities virtually, including the Learning Communities Initiative and youth ministry gatherings;
- Empower parishes to respond to racial injustice and continue to support our New American communities;
- Build strong relationships at the district, regional, and diocesan level.
The resulting revised 2020 Budget is now available for your review at cnyepiscopal.org/download/budget-2020-revised.
Because we were able to secure a forgivable loan through the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP), we have been able to ensure employment stability for all our staff members. Financial resources not earmarked for essential functions and the priorities identified above, including the full amount of interest earned on the Thornfield property sale investments, have been set aside as a crisis-management reserve. This reserve will allow us to be adaptable and responsive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board will oversee a granting process that will direct these funds toward diocesan, regional, and parish ministries that align with the ministry priorities outlined above.
As we have navigated this crisis, we have been reminded of the words of God to the exiled people of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah: “For surely I know the plans I have for you… plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The faith and care of the good stewards of this Diocese—in our parishes, in our districts, and in diocesan ministry—are truly a reason to look toward the future with hope, confident in God’s call. We thank you for your trust and support in this time of challenge and growth, as we continue together in our mission of learning to love God, one another, and all God’s creation.
Blessings of peace for the journey,
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan Probe
Bishop of Central New York
The Rev. Jon M. White
Vice Chair, Board of the Diocese of Central New York