|United Methodist agencies coping with economic crisis|
The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt addresses a joint meeting of the Connectional Table
and the Council on Finance and Administration May 14 in Nashville, Tenn.
UMNS photos by Kathy L. Gilbert.
A UMNS Report
By Kathy Gilbert*
May 15, 2009 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Amid an economic crisis, top executives of The United Methodist Church’s agencies report they are starting new ministries to serve youth and the poor even as they make painful cuts in wages and staff to meet budget shortfalls.
Top executives of the church’s 13 general agencies told a joint meeting of the Council on Finance and Administration and the Connectional Table that the economic downturn has not meant an end to new programs.
Connectional Table member Bethany Amey is a young adult representing the Division on Ministries with Young People.
Despite the collapse of the printing industry and a 26 percent reduction in net assets for 2008, the Board of Discipleship is moving ahead with plans to start new churches and to hold a global event for young people in Germany in 2010, the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt said.
United Methodist Communications reported on the denomination’s “Rethink Church” campaign launched earlier this month. The campaign, which features the new 10thousanddoors.org Web site, targets 18- to 34-year-olds in an effort to lift up the many opportunities for involvement through United Methodist churches. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of how the church is making a difference in the world and to invite others to do the same.
The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of the communications agency, also reported a $700,000 shortfall projected for 2010. He said the agency is limiting travel and spending.
Other agencies are also making hard decisions.
Elizabeth Cumbest, a member of the United Methodist Council on Finance and Administration, sings during worship.
- The Commission on the Status and Role of Women is considering salary cuts for its five-member staff and is looking at canceling an International Women’s Congress, Garlinda Burton said.
- The Board of Higher Education and Ministry canceled its 2010 spring meeting and is considering canceling other events, said the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino.
- The Board of Church and Society and the Commission on Religion and Race, both based in the United Methodist Building in Washington, are sharing human resource and financial personnel. Jim Winkler of the Board of Church and Society said that translates into a $100,000 savings for both agencies. “I am doing all I can to avoid further reduction of staff,” he said.
- For the first time in 50 years, the United Methodist Publishing House will not be able to distribute $1 million in “Cokesbury” checks to annual conferences for retired clergy in the United States and in the central conferences, said Neil Alexander, president and publisher. The publishing house, which does not receive general church funds, has experienced an $8.5 million to $9 million revenue shortfall.
- The Board of Global Ministries has dealt with a $4 million reduction and “that may not be the last for 2009,” said the Rev. Edward Paup. An independent auditor has come up with 220 recommendations on how the agency can cut expenses. Included in that plan is eliminating 41 positions in addition to not filling 20 open positions. “I ask for your prayers,” he said. “This is affecting human lives.”
Erin Hawkins of the Commission on Religion and Race reminded the group that the global economy challenges everyone and cited James 1:2-3:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Council on Finance and Administration
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