Bishop as Corporation Sole
2016 Corporation Sole audit report is here.
Bishop Bruno’s 2016 Convention address is here.
The Bishop as a Corporation Sole—a legal entity usually called by the shortened name of “Corp Sole”— consists of money given to the Bishop of Los Angeles through bequests and gifts throughout the history of the Diocese. Some of Corp Sole’s funds are designated for particular uses: for example, certain monies are to be used only for ministry among African Americans, or for seminary scholarships, campus ministry, clergy assistance or Native American ministries. Other funds are unrestricted, and may be used at the bishop’s discretion, such as assisting with the immigration requirements of new clergy and clergy families, supporting clergy with professional therapy or counseling, paying for extraordinary occurrences such as the legal expense associated with the recovery of four parish properties after a majority of members voted 12 years ago to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church, or providing grants to newly ordained clergy as they are entering ministry here in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Rather than being controlled by a board of directors or other entity, Corp Sole is the legal responsibility of the Bishop of Los Angeles, the elected incumbent in office. At present, Bishop Diocesan J. Jon Bruno seeks the advice of the bishop suffragan and a group of skilled laypeople to administer the funds, although the legal responsibility is his alone.
Since Corp Sole was established, bishops of the Diocese have granted funds for certain ministries some of which were also partially funded by the MSF budget. For many years, these contributions were not reflected in the Mission Share Fund budget; ministries would be funded, and few people knew where the money came from. In recent years, contributions from Corp Sole to the ministries of the Mission Share Fund budget or to ministries that rightfully belonged in the MSF budget but previously were not, are now included in the MSF and as a result the full cost of carrying out the ministry of the MSF is known through the MSF budget.
When Bishop Bruno became bishop diocesan in 2002, he chose to make larger contributions to the Mission Share Fund from Corp Sole for about three years to provide seed money for ministries set forth and adopted by Convention in the Vision, Mission and Values statement, with the understanding that increased giving by parishes and missions would occur, thus fulfilling the commitment made at the 1996 Special Convention resolutions. At the end of the three year commitment the increased giving made available by meeting the expected giving levels, would allow these ministries to continue as a part of the MSF program and budget.
Progress has been made toward giving by all congregations at the levels set forth by the Special Convention, and the Mission Share Fund is now less dependent upon subsidy from Corp Sole. Diocesan Convention and Diocesan Council have both stated on the record that it is the goal of the MSF budget to not require subsidy by Corp Sole. This trend of reducing a Corp Sole subsidy has decreased from $1.17 million in 2005 to $488,366 in 2016 and $469,709 in 2017. This level of support for the 2017 MSF budget will allow Corp Sole funds to be available for other needs and ministries at the diocesan and congregational levels.
Significant to Corp Sole in the recent past have been the 2008 market downturn and the expense, which exceeded $10 million, associated with the recovery of four properties whose members disaffiliated in 2004.