United Church of Christ Faces Largest Financial Crisis in Its History

WASHINGTON — Decreased funding from local churches to the United Church of Christ has yielded the largest financial crisis in its 47 years of history. The Cleveland based denomination faulted the $3.5 million deficit to the sagging economy and falling congregational offerings.

“I just cannot abide the thought that we’re going to allow ourselves to preside over a tranquil decline, and that’s the trajectory we’re on,” said the Rev. John Thomas, general minister and president.

UCC officials fear that if the deficit is left unchecked, it may swell to $33 million by 2007. Consequently, 25 staff positions were cut alongside 40 percent of the program budgets to make up for the financial deficiency.

Church leaders hope to launch a campaign to increase overall giving by $140 million to $1 billion by the time the fiftieth anniversary of the UCC comes by.

“People are leaving our churches on Sunday morning with pockets full of money, giving it to everyone else because we’re not asking for it,” said Ron Buford, the church’s director of communications.