Recession Forces PC(USA) to Cut Staff, Budget

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is continuing to make cuts in its staff and offices, with the latest reduction coming from a ministry that raises and manages funds for the denomination.

In efforts to reduce expenses during the economic downturn, the Presbyterian Foundation let go of 13 full-time employees late last month and reduced the number of its regional development offices from 16 to 10.

"The Foundation has not been immune from the effects of the nation's recession," said Robert E. Leech, president and CEO of the Presbyterian Foundation, in a statement.

"While we made what we think was the most compassionate decision first, to enable our employees who were nearing retirement to voluntarily retire earlier than they might otherwise have, we were called upon to make further involuntary reductions in staff this week in order to respond to the severe economic downturn – while continuing to serve current donors and manage the endowments that have been left in our care over the previous 200 years."

Some staff were offered an early retirement incentive program. Seven took the offer while another six were laid off.

Over the past several months, the PC(USA) has cut about 10 percent of its total staff from its headquarters in Louisville, Ky., and from other agencies within the denomination.

The cuts were a result of the recession as well as restructuring.

Last month, the denomination's General Assembly Council reduced nearly $4 million in expenses from its 2009 budget.

It had originally approved of a more than $110 million budget. But with the recession, the council projected a nearly $10 million deficit. Unused funds from previous years will cover part of the deficit while the rest is being compensated for through the budget cut.

Joey Bailey, chief financial officer, noted, "Some of the changes to our budget were made to improve our flexibility, effectiveness and responsiveness, while others are purely cost-cutting measures," as reported by the denomination's news service.

In addition to budget and staff cuts, the council's executive committee approved plans to withhold salary increases in 2010.

The PC(USA) is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country with about 2.2 million members.

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