Interested in some reporting by a reporter whose strings are clearly being pulled?

Read this. Then read the latest installment.

Of course, reaction by people in a position to know the truth is largely absent – except for some spicy, incomplete quotes, of course. Read response here to the first story. Below is a letter from Bishop Herzog circulated yesterday.

Dear Sister and Brother Clergy

I am aware that last week, Father Kriss sent you all an email, expressing his concern that Christ the King Spiritual Life Center is not a viable Center. I must take exception to his communication to you. To my knowledge, he has never called to make an appointment with me about his concerns, and never even mentioned them when I recently made a visitation to St. Paul’s, Salem, the parish he serves. All I have seen from him are two open letters, both of which were sent to the Albany Times Union. Our End of Year Report for Christ the King answered his concerns. However, he felt that the report did not adequately meet his concerns.

While I will not comment on his motives in sending these communications, I will comment on his conclusions. Attached is a sheet prepared by Mathew Baker, Director of CTK, and approved by the Oversight Committee, addressing Father Kriss’s concerns that CTK is not viable. The Christ the King Oversight Committee, made up of representatives of the Standing Committee, the Trustees, Diocesan Council, Diocesan Development Fund, and Episcopal Charities, which meets monthly to oversee construction and operations of the Center, believes the Center is EXTREMELY viable! Also, please refer to the extensive End of year report for Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, which was recently sent to every parish. This report clearly shows our financial position. It can of course, if used out of context, make our position appear not as viable.

Lastly, let me assure you that UHY Auditors conducts thorough annual audits of (a) diocesan operations and budget; (b) ADIT Funds; (c) Episcopal Charities. The 2004 audits were clean and without material defects, and were distributed to all members of the Diocesan Council. The 2005 audits are being completed as we speak – Charities has been reported out as clean and without material defect; Diocesan and ADIT will be reported out on March 29. We see no reason for concern on them.

Please contact our office with any questions. Meanwhile, please pray for Christ the King and for the election next week.

I remain,
Faithfully Yours,

Bishop Daniel W. Herzog

And, the letter referred to in the note above:

Thank you for asking for an opinion on the financial conclusions widely distributed by email recently. Although they appear somewhat logical, they are flawed. There are incorrect or missing assumptions and misinterpretation of information. Probably good practice to understand the information before jumping to conclusions, especially if you are going to share it. Let us try to help.

The cost to develop Christ the King stands at $9.1 million. We have paid $5.25 million of this in cash. This leaves a debt of $3.85 million. We’re 60% paid. The sale of the old Beaver Cross will reduce the debt to under $3 million in the next couple of weeks. We have over a million dollars in pledges outstanding. This reduces the debt to less than $2 million. Whew, becoming more manageable. Also, let’s not forget the 100+ folks working hard to raise money. Each member of
the diocese shares responsibility to eliminate the debt. It is our privilege. Keep us all in prayer.

Let’s not forget that just a couple years ago the diocese was spending approximately $150,000 at Beaver Cross and $75,000 at Barry House annually to keep them open. That does not include capital repairs and improvements. That’s one million dollars every four years. These ministries are now consolidated at Christ the King. Be good to keep these ministries in prayer also.

As for operations, the goal was to break even in five years. Fact is, God willing this may happen much sooner than expected. Certainly many folks, paid and volunteer, are working very hard to make this happen. Keep them in prayer.

The Community of Saint Mary reimburses Christ the King for actual expenses incurred…maintenance, upkeep and staff working exclusively at the Convent. Their reimbursement is neither an asset nor liability, simply a pass through. If the Sisters were not present there would be no expense or revenue. Thankfully, they are part of the CtK community. Let’s keep them in prayer.

Speaking of budget, the Business Summary initiated by the Futures Committee and revised over the past few years is the ideal plan based on a completed spiritual life center. But, Christ the King is not yet complete. We lack forty beds for adults, an important part for future revenue. Thus, the actual budget approved for 2006 and distributed in the CtK Annual
Report reflects this. There are many folks working many extra hours, working deliberately to minimize expenses and working intentionally to grow the guest base of Christ the King. They are doing an outstanding job. Keep them in prayer.

The Healing Ministry expenses at Christ the King for this year will be approximately $300,000 with revenue of about $30,000 from conferences and day programs. We do not charge to pray with people. More than 3,500 guests were blessed by this ministry last year. This number will grow significantly this year. The Board Members of Episcopal Charities support this ministry of healing and approved reimbursing Christ the King for expenses less revenue. They have
made the ministry of healing possible at Christ the King. Let’s thank them and keep them in prayer.

The 2006 diocesan grant for Christ the King is $252,000. At the same time, Diocesan Youth Ministry and Beaver Cross Summer Camp are no longer line items in the diocesan budget. Christ the King is now responsible for providing these ministries. Thus, the current diocesan budget does not include the $120,000 for Youth Ministry or $50,000 for Summer
Camp it has budgeted in the past. This is a savings for the diocese. The remainder of the grant is used to offset
expenses incurred to provide meeting space, heat, cleaning, maintenance, supplies and the like for the several thousand disciples of the diocese who come to Christ the King for meetings. We’ll keep these folks in prayer too.

So, let’s sum this up. The diocese has taken proactive steps for the future based on the prayers and work of literally thousands of individuals the past few years. We have reallocated and consolidated our financial and human resources to one spiritual life center. We have ministerial and educational opportunities that far exceed anything available in the past.
We can support parishes in ways perhaps never dreamed of. Our “Episcopal Center” is attracting thousands from other denominations and the unchurched. The Center will continue to grow. The opportunities for ministry are unlimited.

The debt incurred is not insurmountable. The operations are strong. We will pay off our debt, grow our endowments, and become financially viable in His time. In our time, we can only continue to pray hard to do His will, Matthew 6:33, and work hard to use Christ the King to spread His love, Matthew 28:18. Let’s keep it all in prayer.

So, why are none of these readily available facts in the news articles? None of this has been hidden, every part is overseen by numerous committees throughout the year (and lots of questions asked), not to mention the budgets which are presented to and voted upon by the entire Diocesan Convention.

It all leaves one speechless.

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