RICHMOND, Va. — The International Mission Board (IMB) had to use $7 million from its reserves to cover expenses last year, IMB officials said.
IMB treasurer David Steverson told IMB trustees at their Jan. 26-27 meeting that the declining value of the dollar, rising living costs overseas and medical expenses led the IMB to draw a "larger than usual" amount from its reserves.
“I believe we need to buckle our seatbelts and get ready for another challenging year in 2009,” Steverson said. “While I believe the worst of the stock market decline is behind us, we now have to deal with all the fallout of that decline.”
Anticipating another tough year, trustees had already tightened the 2009 budget — cutting administrative costs such as reducing travel expenses and not adjusting salaried wages — in their November meeting. The budget allows for sustaining the current levels of missionaries on the field.
Facing another year of a troubled economy, IMB trustees pressed forward with efforts to restructure the organization.
IMB President Jerry Rankin shared his excitement about changes on the way this year. In their September 2008 meeting, trustees approved a reorganization designed to improve the board's ability to impact lostness and expand relationships with churches.
Trustees voted to realign their regional committees to focus on people groups or “affinity groups,” matching the reorganization of the board's overseas work. Affinity groups are drawn together by language, culture and ethnicity, and not limited geographically.
Trustees also approved a measure that will streamline the restructuring process by allowing IMB leadership to transfer personnel to different assignments without trustee action.
“This is a matter for efficiency,” said Gordon Fort, vice president for overseas operations. “(This) will enable us to move ahead and report back to you later, rather than bringing numerous transfers … to the subcommittees in the next few meetings.”
Trustees also heard a report that $3.3 million was appropriated this past fall to human needs projects around the globe. Tom Elliff, senior vice president for spiritual nurture, also announced he will be concluding his full-time work with the board in March.