The National Cathedral, facing a budget shortfall, has suspended several programs and laid off 33 people, according to a report in the Washington Post. Also closing is the Cathedral's greenhouse. This is happening despite a rebound in visitors at the Cathedral, with nearly half a million visitors touring the landmark in fiscal 2008--so far. But an increase in donations isn't enough to offset the budget shortfall. And while leaders are claiming the shortfall is a surprise, others say they should have seen it coming, as a $7 million bequest that helped fuel program expansion during the past three years ran out just in time for the economic downturn to affect the Cathedral.
Cathedral leaders say an ambitious expansion launched by Lloyd to broaden the cathedral's mission, funded mostly by a $7 million bequest that runs out next year, is forcing them to make some tough choices.
Donations, though increasing, have not climbed enough to make up for the loss of the bequest money. At the same time, the cathedral's endowment is declining because of the struggling financial markets. The cathedral uses proceeds from the endowment -- which sources say stood at $70 million before declining recently -- to fund a portion of its budget.
Laid-off employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their severance pay, are critical of the leadership of Lloyd and the cathedral's governing body. They say cathedral leaders ought to have seen the financial crunch coming.
"They should have seen the writing on the wall," said one former employee. "It's very disheartening to see some of the things happening."
But Lloyd defended his leadership, saying revenue did not climb as quickly as expected and the economic slowdown hurt the cathedral's investments.
"We knew that we were going to come off it," Lloyd said, referring to the bequest. "We had hoped that the economy would be doing robustly and we wouldn't have to have the kind of bump that we're having."
In this video accompanying the story, the Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd, dean of the Cathedral, talks about the decision to close the greenhouse:
Read the whole thing here.