Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How long has this been going on?

My name is Patricia (Patty) Tourangeau, and I write to offer 
my perspective and experience to this conversation.  That 
perspective and experience comes from having served for 
six years (2003-09) as Finance Officer on the UTO Board.  
Previous to that I had served as Treasurer for the ECW 
Board for six years, from 1997-2003. 
During those twelve years of service and ministry I spent 
substantial amounts of time working with the finance 
department/staff at the Church Center in New York City, 
keeping accurate and open financial records for both 
organizations.  Beginning in October of 2007, however, It 
became harder and harder for me to do this.  Indeed, after 
Joanne Chapman retired from her Church Center staff 
position as UTO Coordinator and liaison with the UTO Board 
in 2007 it became harder for all members of the Board to do 
what we had been elected to do.  Beginning in December 
2007 I experienced numerous insinuations that I was 
“authorizing expenditures of the UTO fund inappropriately”, 
coming from Church Center leadership: the new UTO 
Coordinator and her supervisors (not the behind-the-scenes 
clerical staff). 
In December 2007 the Executive Committee of the UTO 
Board was informed, by the new UTO Coordinator, that she 
(and staff that she and Church Center staff would hire) would 
be more knowledgeable and better informed to administer 
UTO funds and approve the "right kind” of grants (implying 
that the UTO Board were NOT so qualified and WERE “out 
of step” with Church Center priorities).   This new 
Coordinator informed me that she was now the person who 
would develop the budget and administer income from the 
Trust Funds.  These Trust Funds were given and specifically 
designated to provide operation funds by which the UTO 
Board could perform its ministry throughout the Church. 
December 2007 marks the first “official” indication that there 
was an administrative intention to eliminate the UTO Board 
from their historic role of stewardship of Trust Fund income 
and the decision-making process regarding the distribution 
of that income, as well as from their role in the Ingathering 
granting process.  I must add, however, that I had heard this 
hinted at in June of 2007 while on a trip to the Philippines 
(representing the UTO President), to represent the UTO 
Board at the final meeting of the Joint Committee on the 
Philippine Covenant (JCPC).
Early in 2008 I had a conversation with Judy Gillespie, who 
had served as the UTO Coordinator in 1985.  During our 
conversation Judy told me that when the Memorial and Gift 
Trust Fund was established it was set up for the use of the 
UTO Board and was not intended to pay any “salaries” 
for Church Center staff, even the UTO Coordinator.  Judy 
was very surprised that UTO was providing 20% (around 
$35,000.00) of the Coordinator’s salary and benefits (2007). 
My understanding is that now the UTO contributes 
approximately $100.000 toward this salary & benefits.  Judy 
also mentioned she had worked on the wording for the 
Memorial & Gift Trust Fund, and the money was to be used 
solely for the travel and expenses of the UTO
Board members to do the work they were elected to do. 
I had hoped this was all settled with the agreements 
between Executive Council and the UTO Board, and the 
vote of General Convention in 2012.  I am, however sadly, 
not surprised that authorities at the Church Center continue 
a program of neutralizing and disregarding the elected 
members of the UTO Board. 
The Women’s Auxiliary was established almost 125 ago and 
has been doing mission in Jesus’ name and under the 
banner of The Episcopal Church throughout the world and 
the Anglican Communion for those 125 years.  People 
outside the USA might not know of The Episcopal Church, 
but they certainly do know of the United Thank Offering!! 
This is all thanks to Women in the Pew, giving thanks for 
God’s daily blessing and incarnating that Thanksgiving 
through their offerings of time, talent, treasure and self. 
I have heard over and over again the frustration of UTO 
Board members and others who ask in one way or another, 
“Why are the funds gathered through the UTO Ingathering 
decreasing?”  Certainly, for a time, the church-wide 
response to one natural disaster or another (e.g. 
Hurricane Katrina) and our recent economic circumstances 
account for a portion of that decline.  In some quarters there 
may even be significant doubt about the direction of this 
Church.  But the major reason, I believe, is because of the 
efforts since 2007, on the part of individuals at the Church 
Center in New York to neutralize and dismiss the UTO Board 
and any voice the Women in the Pew have in the mission of 
the Church by their prayers and coins dropped in their Blue 
Boxes and then gathered in and granted through the United 
Thank Offering Grants each year.  Indeed, there are men 
who are very active in this mission work and who daily give 
thanks and put coins in the Blue Boxes; men have even 
served on the UTO Board many years ago (!), and so it 
should be noted that the decision taken to neutralize and 
dismiss this “Women’s” ministry in fact reaches beyond 
gender to all who support the UTO effort from their pew at 
each service held in an Episcopal Church in all nine 
provinces of this Church.
My husband, a priest of this Church and sometimes less 
diplomatic than I, has his own perspective on what is going 
on.  Having lived with me throughout these years, read 
letters and listened to telephone conversations and been 
trailing spouse to more than one Board meeting (tacked on 
to a family vacation), driven me to Chicago to get my 
passport renewed at the last minute, and supported my 
ministry in numerous ways, has likened this entire turn of 
events to an “ecclesiastical purse snatching”.
But that’s my husband.  For myself, I pray that the newly 
proposed By Laws are not accepted, and that a respectful 
and gracious way is found the UTO Board to continue to 
serve and be served by the Women in the Pew as Board 
members as well as prayerful and thankful givers.  That said, 
at this point I believe it would be better for the UTO Board 
to be its own 501(c) 3 corporation.  I continue to pray for 
the UTO Board until this is settled once and for all!
God’s Blessing,
Patty Tourangeau
(UTO Finance Office 2003-2009)

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