Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As we come to the end of the program year in our diocesan life and envision a period of recreation, rest, and the shift in pace of the summer months, I want to provide some insight and understanding regarding the financial stewardship of our ministries.
Our diocesan ministry plan (aka the budget) is predicated on the full tithing of our congregations and the use of trustee income which is drawn from two sources: first, the actual income produced from investments with an annual draw of no greater than 4% and second, the income produced through development projects and the occasional sale of property.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trustees of the Estate Belonging to the Diocese of Long Island generously provided every congregation with grants ensuring our capability to transmit liturgies, meetings, and communication remotely during the period of lockdown and continues today to provide the funding for the Zoom links for all congregations and diocesan programs. The Trustees also expended nearly seven million dollars in unbudgeted accumulated income in direct support of our congregations and diocesan ministries, guaranteeing that from 2020 through 2023, no congregations were forced to close their doors and all staff retained their employment.
This tremendous act of faithfulness, generosity, and proper stewardship, along with the downturn in the financial markets, the slowdown in development projects, and our refusal to invade investments, has resulted in the need to manage cash flow very carefully this budget year. In order to support current projects, grants, and partnerships, we will continue to carefully manage our budget until financial markets pick up pace, development projects resume, and we are able to accumulate and replenish income.
For the remainder of the 2023 Ministry Plan, there will be no new spending, new initiatives, or new grants provided from the Ministry Plan. This includes Congregational Development Grants, Capital Works and Maintenance Grants, and Trustees Small Loans. (Mission Grants provided by Episcopal Ministries of Long Island and Episcopal Church Building Fund Loans are unaffected as they do not require funding through the Ministry Plan.)
This should not be understood as a crisis. To the contrary, it is proper, faithful stewardship of available financial resources ensuring the long-term resources that support our common life and ministry in this diocese.
As never before, the tithing commitment of each congregation is essential. Under “One Diocese, One Mission”, the Trustees of the Diocese provided what we needed to sustain our ministries through the pandemic. It must now be our commitment to provide for each other’s needs and ease the cash flow burden, by both good stewardship of resources and a commitment to the full tithe from every congregation.
Once again, we will not withdraw from the investment principle of restricted funds, which would only create further difficulties in the future. But rather, together, we will meet the challenge and the opportunity that this moment provides. We are the Diocese of Long Island. We know how to care for God’s people, to provide the formation, the support, and the community life necessary to move forward in service to God’s mission in the world.
Have a good and restorative summer. Take advantage of the beauty of God’s creation all around us in this diocese. Be mindful of, and care for, those who need our support and assistance, those who are not as fortunate as we are. Pray that together we will continue to be the church in service to all God’s people.
The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano
Bishop of Long Island