PC(USA) Staff Take Mandatory Furlough

Hundreds of employees of the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country are taking a mandatory unpaid furlough this week.

In an effort to overcome a multimillion-dollar deficit, more than 200 staff members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will not be showing up for work beginning Monday.

"The Presbyterian News Service will be closed during the week of May 18-22 as all offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s General Assembly Council take a mandatory unpaid furlough," the denomination's online publication announced.

Scheduled the week before Memorial Day, employees will have a total of 10 days off.

The weeklong furlough will save nearly half a million dollars in the 2009 budget, GAC treasurer and CFO Joey Bailey estimated.

The GAC had originally approved a more than $110 million budget for 2009. Impacted by the global recession, however, the council projected a nearly $10 million deficit and made cuts in its budget as well as its staff.

GAC staff members were informed of the furlough in March. They were also told that salary increases will be withheld in 2010, which will help save nearly a million dollars in the 2010 budget.

According to the Presbyterian News Service, a furlough was the most popular suggestion by GAC staff members who were asked to contribute ideas to help relieve the denomination's budget woes.

Budget cuts come as membership in the PC(USA) continues to fall. In 2007, membership dropped 2.5 percent to 2.2 million. It was reported as the largest annual membership loss in decades.