Ecumenical News International Suspends Operations

A news service that focuses on religious stories across the globe has announced that they will be suspending their operations for the immediate future due to lack of funds.

Ecumenical News International, a source of religious news founded in 1994 and supported by several interdenominational groups, made the announcement on Monday.

The Rev. David Harris, president of ENInews, told The Christian Post that funding issues regarding its four original major supporting organizations were the cause of the suspension.

The four supporting organizations are the World Council of Churches (WCC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), and the Conference of European Churches. All four organizations are based in Geneva.

"Funding from the original four members who established ENI in the 1990s has fallen drastically in the last two years, from nearly $700,000 to less than $200,000 this year," said Harris. "The WCC is still the largest source of funding, but has also made the biggest cuts."

Regarding the extent of the suspension of operations, Harris told CP that "the website is operational for another month, but its future is also uncertain. Everything else is on hold."

ENInews will remain in suspension until it receives the necessary amount of emergency funding to maintain its operations throughout the remainder of the year.

Kristine Greenaway, executive secretary of Communications at WCRC, told The Christian Post that her organization has given consistently to ENInews the amount of 30,000 Swiss Francs annually.

"WCRC is hoping that the suspension will be temporary and that funding will be found to continue the news service," said Greenaway. "ENI plays a vital role in telling the stories of what churches do as part of the global ecumenical movement in response to the important issues of the day."

Another supporting organization of ENInews is the World Association for Christian Communication, based in Toronto.

Philip Lee, deputy director for Programs and editor of Media Development at WACC, told CP that his organization was "dismayed" by the news.

"ENInews is a valuable and credible source of impartial and balanced news coverage of faith-related issues," said Lee. "Few secular news agencies dedicate staff-time to covering the political and social actions of important bodies such as the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. If ENInews folds, it will create a vacuum that is unlikely to be filled."

According to Lee, for a time WACC provided ENInews and other "church-related news agencies" with monetary support.

"With great regret WACC is not in a position offer emergency financial support to ENInews," said Lee, noting that while WACC "has never reduced its support for ENInews" many other groups have.

"WACC urges ecumenical partners to respond if they can and to take seriously the need for news coverage of faith-based issues that impact society globally and locally."

According to its website, ENInews has about 500 subscribers and several co-publishing agreements with religious media including Episcopal News Service, Latin American and Caribbean Communication Agency, and Religious News Service. Last year it transmitted over 700 articles.

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