United Methodist Agencies Announce More Layoffs

United Methodists have announced more cutbacks and layoffs as the weak economy continues to pressure some of their largest agencies.

The United Methodist Church's Board of Discipleship and Board of Global Ministries will be eliminating a total of 50 positions, adding to the layoffs that already occurred earlier in the year.

Eligible staffs have been offered a retirement package or a severance package, according to the United Methodist News Service.

"Decisions like these are never easy to make," said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive of the Board of Discipleship, as reported by UMNS. "The staff affected by these decisions have dedicated decades of service to The United Methodist Church."

The Board of Global Ministries – the denomination's mission agency – is developing a restructuring plan to help reduce costs.

Already, $4 million has been cut from the agency's 2009 budget and the mission arm is projecting another $3 million in loss for 2010. The revised 2009 budget is currently $53.7 million.

Meanwhile, the Board of Discipleship is reducing its administrative and support staff of around 200 by 17 percent.

Despite the losses, the board plans to stay focused on making world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ through new church starts and a commitment to young people's ministries.

The agency is currently looking to equip and mobilize 250 lay leaders to start new faith communities across the United States.

Other mainline denominations that have been forced to make budget and staff cuts include the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Presbyterian denomination has laid off about 10 percent of its total staff from its headquarters and reduced nearly $4 million in expenses from its 2009 budget. Salary increases are also being withheld in 2010.