Are taxpayer dollars (for refugees!) keeping the Episcopal Church USA afloat?

Your tax dollars

Here is an article yesterday on a site called Virtueonline that was brought to my attention by a reader.   The author of the article, Allan S. Haley, charges that the federal dollars for refugee resettlement at EMM (Episcopal Migration Ministries) keep the books for ECUSA in the black.   And, this is my big question, with refugees suffering throughout the US, how is it that EMM has a surplus of federal dollars?

The latest budgetary statement available from the ECUSA finance site is the (as yet unaudited) report for November 2009. With eleven-twelfths of the year’s income and expenses booked, the picture of ECUSA’s finances is becoming clear. ECUSA is no longer fulfilling its mission as a church. Its mission operations have been scaled back severely. The greatly reduced expenses help keep ECUSA’s deficit from being so large — and they help bury the unbudgeted drain caused by 815’s subsidies to the dioceses engaged in litigation over property. Meanwhile, ECUSA is able to show an operating “surplus” in part because — are you surprised? — its revenues from the Government are up.

ECUSA? Getting federal money? Yes — the Government is the second largest source of ECUSA revenues, after diocesan contributions, and is now even greater than ECUSA’s income from investments. They are called “EMM Revenues,” for “Episcopal Migration Ministries.” Essentially, the Government pays ECUSA to assist in finding homes for refugee families. ECUSA is one of ten* official “resettlement agencies” recognized by the federal Government, and accounts for settling between 2500 to 3500 individuals per year via a network of thirty offices in twenty-six of the 96 domestic dioceses.

The EMM operations for 2009 have helped keep ECUSA in the black (on paper, at least). Here are the year-to-date figures through November 2009:

EMM Revenues (Govmt.) $ 8,843,729
EMM Revenues (Non-govt.) + 517,852 Total, all
EMM Revenues $ 9,361,581

EMM Expenses (all depts) – 9,022,731

Operating Surplus $ 338,850

These actual figures may be compared with the budgeted amounts:

EMM Revenues (Govmt.) $ 8,238,420
EMM Revenues (Non-govt.) + 385,917 Total, all
EMM Revenues $ 8,624,337

EMM Expenses (all depts) – 8,374,545

Budgeted Surplus $ 249,792

Read on, the author explains more about the creative bookkeeping at ECUSA.  And, by the way, readers should know that the federal government does not do financial audits of refugee resettlement agencies, they do instead program audits.  Those are audits that only address whether the agency is getting refugees jobs etc. in a timely fashion.

Is there an EMM affiliate near you?  Are they doing a good job with their refugee caseloads?  Here are the affiliates.  Note that you wouldn’t know by their names that they are getting their funding as pass through money from EMM.  Some have “Lutheran” in their title so one would think their money would be coming through the major Lutheran volag (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services), and I note our friends at the Virginia Council of Churches are also an affiliate of EMM.  But, they are an affiliate of Church World Service too!  Can you see how complicated it would be to audit where your tax dollars are going!

Also, while you are at the EMM site, note the advocacy page, they are busy advocating for more refugees which in turn keeps the federal funding spigot open.  I sure hope they aren’t using tax dollars for support of amnesty legislation!

Here is the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s annual report to Congress for FY 2007, you can learn more about EMM in Appendix C-2.   Note that their affiliates resettled 2,296 refugees in that fiscal year.

Here are the top ten resettlement agencies.  I have never been able to get financial figures from USA Spending.gov on EMM.  Checking guidestar there is no Form 990 for EMM instead it appears each of their affiliates is listed separately and some of those do not file Form 990’s (presumably claiming they are ‘churches’ and don’t have to file them).

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