Saturday, September 14, 2013

Statement from elected Province Representatives serving on United Thank Offering Board

            Most of you are aware of the conflict between the leadership of The Episcopal Church (the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society—DFMS) and the United Thank Offering Board. Four key UTO board members including the president/grants convener, the secretary, the communications convener and a respected long-time member of the Board have resigned from the board as a protest, citing irreconcilable differences with those of the senior leadership of DFMS.

·      2007   The Presiding Bishop called for a study to learn about Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards (CCABs) and their relationship to the institutional church.
·      2008   The United Thank Offering Committee sought approval from the Executive Council to incorporate as a 501(c)(3) status. Executive Council felt this would undercut the church’s connection to UTO so they called for “a serious and extensive study….” INC-055 resulted.
·      2011   The Executive Council, meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October received the report of INC-055 Ad Hoc Task force and in their minutes stated, “Resolved, That the Executive Council receives and approves the newly developed Bylaws for the United Thank Offering Board….” The minutes also stated, “Canon Harris reported that DFMS’ counsel had reviewed the proposed Bylaws and approved them.” The Very Rev. Stacy Sauls was present at that meeting.
·      2013   Work that had begun on Memorandum of Understanding came to a halt with the death of Sarita Redd, UTO president in January.
·      July 2013   The UTO board drafted a Memorandum of Understanding between the UTO board and DFMS. The board was invited to New York by the Presiding Bishop to discuss “issues of governance and oversight.” And to create jointly new documents to define the relationship between DFMS and UTO. (specifically revision of the Bylaws)
·      August 2013   Paul Nix (legal council for DFMS) sent Robin Sumners (communication convener and UTO member who was supposed to work with Paul Nix on the Bylaws revision) a revision of the Bylaws created solely by DFMS.
·      September 2013   Four UTO board members resigned in protest because they felt the trust that they had put in DFMS had been betrayed and that the Bylaws under which UTO had been operating (AD Hoc INC-055) had been eviscerated.

Important Changes Under the Proposed Bylaws by DFMS
·      The proposed Bylaws will sever the relationship between UTO and Episcopal Church Women (ECW). The provinces, not the provincial ECWs, will elect UTO provincial representatives. There will be no presence of UTO at the Triennial, except by a member of the DFMS staff.
·      The board will no longer be autonomous.
·      Granting will be done by DFMS, not the UTO board.
·      No UTO Executive Committee   This committee sets program and policy. It had been working on revisioning and revamping the committee structure in UTO to be more effective.
·      No Communication Committee   This committee was responsible for revising and instituting a new electronic granting process that was faster and more equitable, for assisting board members to become more computer literate and electronically engaged, having UTO go paperless by 2014, posting the Face to Face training program on YOU tube, to name a few of its accomplishments. The committee was responsible for providing education on the UTO network, planning communication strategy and providing tools and materials. (This will now be under DFMS)
·      No finance Committee    This committee has not been able to operate effectively because it has not received a financial report from DFMS for 18 months.
·      Most importantly, the core value of UTO is no longer in the proposed Bylaws. Gone is the statement, “UTO as a daily ministry of prayer and gratitude for blessings received for tangible support for the work of the church throughout the world.”  It has been replaced with, “raising money to support mission.”

            The remaining members of the UTO board hold fast to the INC-055 Ad Hoc Study Report that recommended that the UTO "should continue to be an autonomous and interdependent Board under the Executive Council".  We feel that we have adhered to all documents of the Episcopal Church and the Constitution and Canons of TEC and the Policies and Procedures of the DFMS. We feel that understanding our finances; taking responsibility for the offerings given by our thankful people; the decision making of granting these funds; and being able to communicate and tell our story are vital to the continuance and well being of The United Thank Offering
            We are continuing to operate under the Bylaws established by the INC-055 Ad Hoc Study Report and will continue to do so until we are able to compromise on the proposed Bylaws.
            If the proposed Bylaws are passed, it will bring a close to a very important “grass-roots” ministry involved in mission.” That would be a great loss and very sad!

If you do not want this to happen, here are some suggestions:
1.   Contact your Bishop and tell him/her what is happening.  Explain that under the proposed Bylaws:
             a. The autonomy of the UTO board as outlined in Ad Hoc committee report INC-055 is in
             b. The historical relationship between the ECW and UTO is dissolved.
 DO IT THIS WEEK.                 
(Bishops meet in Nashville beginning September 19, 2013. There needs to be a conversation there.)

2.   PRAY and PRAY some more that this difficulty can be resolved for the best for the United Thank
      Offering and the mission of the church.

Each Elected Province Representative signed this statement: the continuing board members offered to send this statement to Provinces I, IV and VII, and have done so.

Province II:  Lois  Johnson-Rodney
                -- Finance Officer (Resigned as Finance Officer, but has remained Province Rep)
Province III:  Dena Lee
Province IV:  Marcie Cherau
Province V:  Peg Cooper
Province VIII:  Barbara Schafer, Vice President, now President

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