Wednesday 4 March 2009

Has the Episcopal Church withdrawn $100,000 from the church of Sudan as claimed by Chris Sugden?

On 24 February I commented on Canon Chris Sugden’s article about Sudan in Evangelicals Now. Chris wrote that Archbishop Deng “has estimated it has already cost his province $100,000 from The Episcopal Church in the USA.”

I took this to mean that Archbishop Deng had chosen to forfeit $100,000. Chris emailed to correct me – “There is no suggestion in the article that he refused the funds. It was TEC who withheld them as far as I understand.”

I apologised to Chris for misunderstanding him. Then I got curious, because his article wasn’t clear and my mistake was understandable. I asked friends in the USA if they were aware that TEC had withheld $100,000. My contacts told me they don’t think it is true. There is very little direct designation of contributions to other provinces in the TEC budget. Most of that sort of money is raised by dioceses or outside organisations such as Trinity Wall Street or American Friends of the church of Sudan. My contacts couldn't imagine any of those sources cutting back except due to decreases in their revenues tied to the economic crisis.

I’m told that TEC's relationship with Sudan has actually become more extensive since Lambeth. The Diocese of Missouri had a lengthy mission visit over Christmas. The diocese of Virginia in partnership with others are trying to find partner dioceses in the USA for Sudanese dioceses currently without a link. Archbishop Deng's successor in Renk was recently at All Saints Chicago where they raised $13,000 for him despite their own budget deficit. The Diocese of Bethlehem and a Sudanese Diocese have just renewed their relationship. The American friends of the church of Sudan is still in existence. Lauren Stanley, the TEC missionary to Sudan still teaches at the seminary in Renk.

I emailed this information to Chris Sugden, asking him to confirm that $100,000 has been withheld by TEC. I haven’t received a reply.

Meanwhile, my contacts in the USA continued to investigate and have reported the following: support from the budget of TEC to Sudan hasn’t decreased. It is wired quarterly. No dioceses broke off relationships with Sudan over Archbishop Deng’s remarks. Rather, some dioceses are expanding said relationships and others are exploring relationships with Sudanese dioceses that currently don’t have a partner in TEC. No one my contacts have been in touch with have any idea what money Chris Sugden could be referring to.

I'd like to know the truth about the $100,000, given that so much misinformation finds its way onto the web. The Episcopal Church is portrayed as the guilty party by conservative groups such as Anglican Mainstream. Accusations such as that made by Chris Sugden made are rarely questioned or substantiated.

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