Facing the financial crisis the CFO of the Episcopal Church, N. Kurt Barnes, talks with Faith and Leadership about layoffs, reducing expenses and development.
Some excerpts from this extensive interview:
At the General Convention this past July, we reassessed ... we found our revenues to be down something on the order of 4 to 5 percent over the next couple of years. ... One approach was, don’t hurt staff, don’t reduce staff, reduce non-staff expenses. That’s not reasonable. If staff people are sitting around doing nothing, then there is no ministry going on. Our response was to reduce both. Unfortunately that meant we reduced our headquarter staff by about 20 percent. That’s on the spending side. We looked at spending and we identified spending cuts. We looked at activities that we felt could be done by subsidiaries. Could a ministry be achieved at the local level, by a local parish or by individual dioceses? If it could, the work should be done there rather than from church headquarters.The interview does not cover the housekeeping/cleaning contract cost-cutting measure. For more on that see our post from Tuesday.
On the revenue side -- and this is not something we’ll achieve in the next two or three years -- the Episcopal Church has not had a broad capital campaign to build its endowment for 25 years. It does not have a development office. It will now have a development office. In the last couple of years we created the beginning of a mission-funding office.
Q: What are the guiding principles for deciding which parts of the mission are funded?
Decisions on what to emphasize and what to reduce were based on what things we do well and what things we have done well that should be assumed, developed and implemented at the local level. ... Fifteen or more years ago the Episcopal Church developed an extensive program of training on how to think about racism, sexism and ageism. It developed a program of training throughout the dioceses around the country. Now there are anti-racism trainers and facilitators in most of the dioceses. ...