Dear Old Dad,
Why do we need a diocese? What really matters happens at my local church.
At countless annual meetings questions come up: What is this large chunk of money going to the Diocese? We could use that money for our own programming, maintenance, and staff. What is the diocese, anyway?
In church governance, a diocese is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction and pastoral care of a bishop. Our Bishop is the Right Reverend John Harvey Taylor; our Diocese is the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, one of six dioceses in the State of California.
The money we send to our Diocese supports not only our bishop and the programming and staff of the diocese, but a portion also trickles up to the support of the Presiding Bishop and the operations of our national church, The Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA.)
Our diocesan budget supports a rich variety of operations: outreach ministries, the planting of new congregations, the selection, screening, and training and ordination of new clergy, the oversight and support of the ministries and programs of 147 congregations, 40 schools, and 18 major institutions. Our Bishop is also responsible for the oversight and pastoral care of some 400 members of the clergy in his Diocese. Bishop Taylor went a pastoral extra mile to preach the homily at my dear wife’s funeral last August. When a church member, either lay or clergy, is involved in congregational malfeasance (usually involving sex or finances), the Bishop is involved. While I was serving Saint Paul’s in Tustin, an embezzlement of $150,000 was discovered. Bishop Jon Bruno had on retainer a church-specific forensic accountant who was deployed to help us work through the mess.
The money we congregations send to our larger church could be considered similar to a homeowners association fee, money pooled together for the common good. The fees/ pledges/assessments are determined to be, as far as possible, fair share amounts according to the democratic procedures of our church’s Constitution and Canons.
Hope this helps,
Dear Old Dad (DOD)
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