Increasing the numbers of Episcopal missionaries is the intent of a resolution before the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake City. Passage of the resolution is urgent in view of the startlingly low current number of Episcopal missionaries, whether Young Adult Service Corps members (YASCers) or Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (EVIMs).
The updated June 2015 roster of missionaries on the Episcopal Church website lists just 47 individuals, including 4 married couples. 12 of the 47 are YASCers, leaving 35 adults not in the young adult category.
These are remarkably low numbers for a church that claims to be committed to global involvement expressed in the incarnational presence that is a touchstone of Anglican identity in mission.
Moreover, the current numbers constitute a significant decline – 22% – from the 60 missionaries that were listed in 2012. That number included 8 YASCers. In commentary at that time I noted:
The Episcopal Church’s investment in international missionaries is small. The current figure of 60 missionaries is down from over 100 just six years ago, and that represented an increase from low numbers in the 80s and 90s that were similar to today’s. The current missionary number means that Episcopalians have just one missionary for about every 35,500 members.
The Episcopal situation stands out even among the historic mainline denominations, all of which have far fewer missionaries than they did in, say, the 1950s. Yet in 2011 the Presbyterian Church (USA) had the same membership total as the Episcopal Church – about 2.2 million, maybe even fewer – but they fielded 3.5 times as many missionaries: 217 serving in over 50 countries. That works out to one missionary for about every 10,150 members – still not good, but a lot better than 1:35,500.
In Resolution A112 “Encourage Support for YASC and EVIM,” the Standing Commission on World Mission proposes:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church encourage dioceses, seminaries, and parishes to recruit and support both Young Adult Service Corps members (YASCers) and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission members (EVIMs); and be it further
Resolved, that the General Convention continue its commitment to increasing numbers of YASCers by 10 per year for the triennium 2016-2018, (30 in 2016, 40 in 2017, and 50 in 2018, for a total of 120 for the triennium); and increasing the number of EVIMs by 10 percent each year, for the triennium 2016-2018; and be it further
Resolved, that the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance increase the budget for the Young Adult Service Corps from $1,100,000 to $1,800,000, and a 10% increase for the Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, for the 2016-2018 triennium in order to implement this resolution.