In early February, ELCA Communication Services canceled Grace Matters, the ELCA radio ministry that has existed since 1947. Host Peter W. Marty called it "a sad day for hundreds of thousands of listeners."
The last program will air on Easter Sunday, April 12, on roughly 185 stations.
Kristi Bangert, CO executive director, said the cut was part of a process shared by every ELCA unit in exploring churchwide priorities. Asked if the decision was a reaction to a current budget concern or a contingency plan for further economic troubles, she said, "Yes and yes."
"All executive directors were asked to look at every major budget line item and identify mission critical work. ... Every executive was told we've got to look at this and make changes strategically," Bangert said. "We can't do everything. We've been riding a high tide for a long time and just can't keep doing it all."
The decision is part of nearly $1.5 million in reductions from the 2009 churchwide budget. That includes "reducing program budgets in most units and eliminating a total of 11 full-time staff equivalent positions-of which 2.5 were vacant," said Wyvetta Bullock, executive for administration. In an e-mail to churchwide staff, Bullock called these "difficult decisions" and cited "the current economic volatility." She warned that further 2009 budget adjustments may be necessary.
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