Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has released the following statement about the United Thank Offering.
The resignations of several members of the United Thank Offering Board in the past few days deeply distress me. They appear to be the result of grave suspicion and the attribution of inappropriate and unhelpful motives. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), and its elected and official leadership (the President of the House of Deputies, the Chief Operating Officer, the Executive Officer of General Convention, the Treasurer, and I) have no intention of divesting the United Thank Offering of its funds or applying excessive controls to its practices. Our goal is the one that has continued from the beginning of this United Offering – to relieve suffering and help to build a series of ministries that “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The United Thank Offering is a ministry of the whole Church, and has been overseen since its beginning through members of the Episcopal Church Women and Mission staff of the DFMS. It is not, and has never been, a separate corporation, and the current state of law in the United States (where the DFMS is incorporated) requires accountable connections with the corporation which holds non-profit status. That reality prompted a clarification of relationships between the United Thank Offering and the DFMS, with work begun in Executive Council in 2008. That work has continued, and the most recent conversations have centered around bringing the operating procedures into compliance with both federal law and with DFMS policies, and developing a memorandum of understanding between the two bodies. That work is not finished, and unfortunately the recent resignation of several United Thank Offering board members purported that those conversations were closed. We anticipate continued developmental work on those agreements and procedures, and look forward to continuing these conversations with the remaining board members, and the new members, when they are named. The goal of all this long work is to the continued existence and thriving of the ministry of the United Thank Offering. We fervently pray for a healed world, and the United Thank Offering is a very important way in which the year of the Lord’s favor must continue to be proclaimed.
I commend to your attention other documents prepared by staff in reference to these issues. I encourage your prayers for the ministry of the United Thank Offering, and for all the Episcopalians, women and men and children, who continue to give thanks through the Blue Box in order that others might know the love of God and the favor of the Lord in their own lives.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
September 6, 2013