With Income trailing last year’s gifts by 3.2 percent or $647,000 through seven months, the Baptist State Convention has laid off three people and eliminated six positions, effective immediately.
Two of the positions will be combined with related work currently being conducted by two persons each carrying dual responsibilities. Those persons will have the option to apply for the redesigned positions, which will be opened for application by others, as well.
The Convention has maintained positive cash flow even during the income decline, but careful husbanding of resources is no longer enough because the restrictions on staff travel and ministry expenses could be pared no further without negatively affecting ministry, according to Brian Davis, executive leader for administration and convention relations.
Three persons whose positions are being eliminated, are:
Eddie Hammett, senior consultant for discipleship and deacon ministry;
Wendy Edwards, senior consultant for spiritual formation;
Rosanna Strickland, resource center manager.
The Learning Communities coordinator position at Hollifield Leadership Center is being eliminated, and was currently unoccupied, although Kim Duncan, who had held the position, was laid off in May.
The role of senior consultant for preschool ministries position, held by Cathy Hopkins, is being combined with children’s ministries. Before the retirement of Janice Haywood, Hopkins was the pre-school consultant but has been doing both jobs.
The senior consultant for western regional resources, held by Lester Evans, is being combined with the associational partnerships director position. He had been western regional resources consultant before assuming the additional role of associational partnerships.
Job descriptions that will combine the four roles filled by Hopkins and Evans into two will be presented for consideration by the Position Evaluation Committee of the BSC Executive Committee at its September meeting.
Hopkins and Evans will continue to fill their current roles until the newly combined positions have been filled and they may apply for the new positions.
Davis estimated an annual savings of approximately $500,000 in the staff and position reductions.
A news release from the Baptist State Convention said, “The convention staff worked diligently to keep spending below receipts, but the prospects for 2010 are still uncertain regarding any significant increase of financial support from the churches.”
“Currently, because of the economy, the churches of this convention are not being supported financially by their members at the same levels as previous years,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer. “The Convention cannot expect to receive support from the churches when the churches do not have the funds to forward to us.
“I am convinced that as the churches see their support return the Convention will see an increase in receipts. However, we are in the difficult situation of making decisions that impact individuals and families. I take this downsizing very seriously and ask North Carolina Baptists to join me in prayer for the men and women impacted by these decisions.”
Salary for the position of public relations director, vacant since Aug. 1 when Doug Baker left to become editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, will not be included in the proposed 2010 Cooperative Program budget, which is still not finalized, but the position will remain in the Convention staff structure.
Each employee affected by the downsizing has been provided a severance package, a package “significantly greater than our personnel policies prescribe,” according to John Butler, executive leader for business services.
Funds for those severances are being drawn from reserves, Davis said.
In the BSC news release Butler said the severances are comparable to those of 2003, when 23 positions were eliminated and 15 persons lost their jobs.
Since 2003, any time a position became vacant, the personnel evaluation committee had to approve the position’s continuation. Seven such positions have been added in the past six years, such as a writer, Embrace director and scholarship coordinator. If the positions lost when Woman’s Missionary Union moved from under the personnel structure of the BSC are considered, there has been no increase in the 180 persons employed as fulltime BSC staff statewide.
During consideration of staff reductions, every position throughout the state was considered, Davis said.
“It is significant that the 2003 downsizing occurred after Cooperative Program receipts had fallen approximately $2 million below budget,” Butler said. “Until this week’s action we had been able to avoid staff cuts during this economic recession through tightly managed expenses and reductions in program costs even though projected 2009 Cooperative Program receipts will be more than $4 million below the approved budget. Unfortunately, the prolonged recession has left us with no other viable option than to reduce staff expenses.”
Additional BSC reporting by Melissa Lilley