Below you will find a brief history of how the Campaign for Congregational Development arose from the vision of Bishop Scott Benhase; the campaign priorities developed from the input of over 400 members of our Diocese; the ministries conceived by the Bishop and Diocesan Council to achieve those priorities; and the estimated financial resources needed to support ministries over the next 5 years and in the long term.
The Initial Vision
In 2010, Bishop Scott Benhase became the Diocese of Georgia’s 10th Bishop. He brought a clear vision and strong conviction that the Diocese could and must do more. The Diocese’s vision is to support the needs of our congregations and bolster the ministries we bring to our communities by using the resources and connectedness of the Diocese to reach well beyond what any one congregation could achieve on its own. Bishop Benhase also pledged to pay for the operation of the Diocese by requiring congregational tithes alone. The Diocese was soon able to achieve that—in the black— within the first two years. However, the greater vision for congregational development and ministry can not happen through the annual Diocesan budget alone. Thus, the Campaign for Congregational Development was conceived as an approach to meet both the greater vision of the Diocese as a larger body of Christ and the Bishop’s commitment to require only annual tithes of our congregations.
Identifying the Campaign Priorities
Four years ago, with the Diocesan annual financial management in good order, The Bishop and staff set out to discover what was most needed, according to the members of our congregations and communities. They traveled the Diocese and met in person with over 400 clergy and laypeople, listening and praying together about the needs at the forefront of their minds and hearts to discern shared hopes and dreams for our future. Every initiative supported by the Campaign for Congregational Development arose directly from the priorities expressed by the people of our Diocese during those 14 months. Three clear priority areas stood out from all the others:
- Congregational Growth & Development
- Clergy & Lay Leader Support and Development
- Leadership Formation for Youth & Young Adults
Nine initiatives emerged from these core priorities, to be supported by the Campaign for Congregational Development.
The Initiatives Remain High Priorities of the Diocese
In order to be certain that the identified priorities and ministries were still in alignment with the members of our Diocese, all attendees at both the annual 2014 Clergy Conference and Diocesan Convention were surveyed. Responses indicated a resounding YES! across the board. Every initiative enjoyed support at the rate of at least 84% and many were supported by as much as 96%.
How the Campaign Will Work in the Long-term
The Campaign for Congregational Development was designed to generate the base funds to launch as many of the identified initiatives as possible over the course of the next 5-10 years, while simultaneously continuing to support the already existing initiatives, as funds come in. The long-term vision is for the initiatives that prove vital and effective to become line items in the annual Diocesan budget, supplemented by ongoing support from individuals and congregations. This is envisioned to be achieved in two ways:
- A successful campaign over the next 5 years relieving current and future pressure on the annual Diocesan operating budget, thus freeing up funds to be applied to new or developing initiatives annually, and
- While honoring the Bishop’s promise to only require tithes for the annual operation of the Diocese, individuals and congregations who see the benefits to themselves and others of the Campaign’s success would voluntarily continue supporting the ministries through annual church fundraisers and ongoing additional individual donations. When one congregation or community succeeds, all boats rise.