|The Episcopal Church national offices at 815 Second Ave.|
The House of Deputies, one of two legislative houses that make up the Episcopal Church General Convention, voted today to sell the property.
"People are not happy that we have a building in New York that takes millions of dollars out of our missionary operations," said Bishop Andrew Doyle, Vice Chair of the Committee on Structure. "They are not happy, and we have known that for years.”
The resolution to sell the church headquarters as well as home of the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, now goes to the House of Bishops for ratification.
The decision to sell the Manhattan property comes in the wake of budget cuts and staff layoffs as the denomination falls to its lowest membership in 70 years. The church has lost 200,000 members and 300 parishes between 2006 and 2010 with a total of 657,831 attending church on Sundays per year. Membership has declined to below two million, it's lowest level since the 1930s.
The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has not yet completed a final budget for consideration to General Convention #77. Earlier this year competing budgets were submitted by both the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to the Executive Council, an elected body that provides oversight to the Episcopal Church between General Conventions.
The Executive Council is charged with presenting the budget to the PB&F at General Convention, but when the PB&F convened in Indianapolis earlier this week they accepted another budget from the Presiding Bishop based on the Anglican Consultative Council's Five Marks of Mission.
“The budget process does not work. PB&F right now is restructuring the Church by deciding who gets money and who doesn’t, even before we get the resolutions to vote,” Bishop Doyle said.
The House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson recently announced that she would retire to spend more time with her family and not seek re-election.
The General Convention legislative sessions resume their deliberations on Saturday, July 7, 2012.