Coming out of the 86th General Board meeting in Overland Park, Kansas, USA, 21-23 February 2009, the Board of General Superintendents, the Executive Committee, and the Finance Committee added detail to plans for dealing with what church leaders believe could be an extended global economic crisis affecting the Church of the Nazarene.
The church began the last 12 months of the quadrennium anticipating the celebration of its Centennial in October 2008.
"The economic turmoil arrived in full force about the same time," General Superintendent James H. Diehl remarked in the Annual Report of the Board of General Superintendents. "Congregations, districts, educational institutions, compassionate ministry centers, the Global Ministry Center, and regional offices are all being impacted by the crisis.
"It is tempting to put aside God's mission and focus on the economic situation. There is a need for church leadership to face reality, and the Board of General Superintendents is committed to doing that.
"At the same time, it is imperative that we stay focused on Jesus Christ and the completion of His work on earth. He will build His Church, regardless of the ups and downs of the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong, the Sao Paulo Exchange in Brazil, or the Dow Jones Industrial Averages on Wall Street in New York, USA," Diehl added.
"Our Board is calling Nazarenes to prayer and fasting that the Lord's will be done in the life and ministry of His church as we navigate our way through turbulent times," he concluded.
The Board of General Superintendents had already announced in 2008 that any plan put into place at the Global Ministry Center and regional offices to address the current financial situation would be done in consultation with the Executive and Finance Committees of the General Board.
On February 26, Board Chair Jesse C. Middendorf met with employees of the Global Ministry Center. In that meeting, General Superintendent Middendorf indicated that the cumulative impact of the present global economic recession has been significant.
Describing the differences between original projections of both revenue and operating budgets for the Global Ministry Center, Middendorf cited forecasts calling for a 20 percent decline in both areas from now until 2011. This translates into a projected $10 million drop over the next three years.
Global Ministry Center
In light of these projected realities, significant responses will be engaged. They include:
- General officers — along with the Board of General Superintendents — will see salaries rolled back to 2007 fiscal year levels, effective 1 July 2009.
- Global Ministry Center is placed under a hiring freeze.
- Global Ministry Center travel expenses will be reduced and approval procedures for overseas trips will be instituted.
- Effective 1 April 2009, all employees who received an increase in salary between 10/1/08 and 2/1/09 will see a reduction of 1.5 percent in their pay, rolling back to the 2008 salary level, and no scheduled increases will be processed through the end of this fiscal year (30 September 2009).
- Additionally, a salary freeze for all employees is projected for the next three years.
- Effective 1 April 2009, the Global Ministry Center will reduce the matching amount of contribution to employee 403(b) from 6 percent to 3 percent for the remainder of the calendar year. The Annual Pension Supplement of $500 will not be awarded to Global Ministry Center participants this calendar year. These annual discretionary employer contributions to the 403(b) plan will be reevaluated next year.
- Some targeted layoffs will occur with advance notice to help with transition once details are known.
- Financial sponsorship of all employee social activities have been recessed, along with the general superintendents' and directors' quadrennial retreat.
Middendorf also noted during the meeting with staff that the Finance Committee of the General Board has instituted a new quarterly budget review to monitor the financial condition of the Global Ministry Center with the directive to ensure alignment of revenue with expense performance and goals. The Finance Committee also voted to establish an operating reserve target of six months.
Employees have been submitting ideas for cost containment to the Board of General Superintendents and have expressed appreciation for the communication from leadership.
Concluding the meeting, Middendorf reminded Global Ministry Center employees that the Church of the Nazarene will never become a budget-driven church, but rather, will always be a vision- and mission-driven church.
General Superintendent J. K. Warrick ended the meeting with a time of prayer for our churches and the similar challenges they are facing, especially where members of those congregations have lost their jobs. He prayed for a special blessing upon those congregations that are suffering and that God will abundantly bless the continuing mission of the Church of the Nazarene.
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--Board of General Superintendents