The Rev. Susan McCone, director of the MFI reportedly told the Executive Council that she has "identified 500 Episcopalians 'with a verified giving capacity' of at least $1 million each, one quarter of whom each have a potential to give $500 million and 15 of whom are include on Forbes list of billionaires." She questioned, however, whether the Executive Council and the Episcopal Church have the "spiritual will to see this process through."
The Rev. Charles Fulton, executive director of MFI denied that the MFI is attempting to do "an end run around local leaders," he said. However, McCone admitted that "raising such amounts of money in the current economy is difficult."
There are no comments yet from Episcopal diocesean bishops and standing committees and executive boards, as well as local parish vestries, on this development by 815 to aggressively pursue a "first-ever attempt to cultivate major gifts."
According to a press release from the Presiding Bishop's office, "Currently the money raised is intended for funds aimed at congregational development, leadership in ministry, global ministry, spiritual enrichment and communications," though no specifics were listed except to raise $30 million to buy a vacant block in Austin, Texas and move nondescript "archives" from their current location at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin to a brand new a "mission research center" built by the Presiding Bishop's office.
There was no registered comment from Bishop Andy Doyle or the Diocese of Texas on this proposed $30 million fund raising activity or what part the diocese will play in the funding and administration of the center that is proposed to be located in their diocese.
What is left unsaid is why the Episcopal Church now seeks to "cultivate major gifts" of up to $500 million and move significant budgeting and oversight authority away from the local dioceses and to the office of the Presiding Bishop in New York.
According to the Blue Book of 2006 General Convention in Columbus, in 2005 "the Executive Council established the Mission Funding Initiative as a component of the Office of the Presiding Bishop," and not the local dioceses.
The General Convention report states that:
The Mission Funding Initiative is charged to “seek a variety of ways to further the mission and ministry of the Church, including funding through foundation grants.” The Council also charged the Church Center staff to develop a mechanism for the review and approval of grant requests and to ensure their endorsement by the Presiding Bishop.Originally, the proposal to create the MFI was in effort to meet the 20/20 evangelism goals set by the General Convention 2003, but that effort has been abandoned.