With contributions slowing, many are reporting millions of dollars in reduced income, necessitating staff layoffs and program cuts.
By Larry B. Stammer
September 7, 2009
With donations slowing, religious groups across the theological spectrum are reporting millions of dollars in reduced income that is resulting in staff layoffs and program cuts.
Jewish and Christian seminaries also are feeling the pinch. Eight seminaries for the nation's largest Lutheran denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are undergoing staff reductions and budget cuts.
In Los Angeles, consideration was given this spring to closing the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, a seminary serving the Jewish Reform movement. Ultimately, college officials opted to keep the campus open, but only after cutting staff and entering into cooperative arrangements with other institutions and seminaries.
But college officials confirmed there is ongoing discussion of how millions more could be saved, including preliminary talks about selling the campus to the adjacent USC and leasing it back.
Meanwhile, 69 long-term foreign missionaries and 350 short-term missionaries for the Southern Baptist Convention will remain home this year because of reduced giving by local congregations to the denomination's cooperative program. Southern Baptist officials also report a $29-million drop in an annual Christmas offering on which half the program's budget depends. the rest