When it comes to finances, your problem is the church's problem. The tough economy is being felt in congregations and denominational offices nationwide.
The United Methodist Church isn't renewing the contracts of 18 missionaries as part of a $7.5 million cutback. The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod recently reduced its national staff of 320 by 48 people, more than half of the cuts from its missionary force.
In November the ELCA Church Council reduced the spending authorization for the churchwide organization by $2.4 million and $500,000 in world hunger spending. There were no immediate staff layoffs. ELCA Treasurer Christina Jackson-Skelton said Feb. 28 that "current estimates are that the ELCA ... will close the 2002 fiscal year down approximately $3.6 million in total revenue as compared to one year ago, largely due to an extremely favorable year of bequest and trust income in 2001." She expects a decrease of 1 percent ($0.7 million) in mission support.
Nancy Snell, ELCA director for stewardship and mission giving, says, "I'm fairly confident the economy has not had a huge effect on giving to congregations." In some areas the economy seems to have affected congregational giving to synods, she adds. This affects the funds synods share with churchwide ministries.
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