UCC national officers begin to implement financial stability plan
Written by Staff Reports
November 8, 2013

In a continuing effort to reduce the United Church of Christ's $2.3 million budget deficit for the denomination's national offices, 12 full-time staff positions have been eliminated. This reduction in staff will have a significant impact on the church's deficit and is one of the first steps implemented to support a fiscal stability plan for the national setting, as approved by the Board of Directors at their meeting last month.

The four national officers of the UCC – the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president, the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries, the Rev. James A. Moos, executive minister of Wider Church Ministries, and the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of Local Church Ministries – emphasized that they are working as one to lead the church's national offices toward financial stability and sustainability.

"Any reduction in staff is very tough, and I am saddened by these decisions," said the Rev. Geoffrey Black.  "Unfortunately, in order to implement the necessary fiscal stability plan that provides for a more sustainable future for our denomination's national offices, difficult decisions like these are the ones we are forced to make.  Our prayers are certainly with those staff members and their families who are affected by today's organizational changes."

The Rev. Ben Guess echoed these sentiments.  "Staff reductions are terribly difficult, because all of these persons impacted have been much-loved, committed and conscientious members of our national team, and they love this church.  So there is much sadness today," Guess said.  "Still, in the midst of the pain, I am confident that we are making significant steps toward right-sizing our staff to conform with the resources available to us, even as we become more strategic about pursuing additional revenue to support the important ministries of the connectional church."

"This United Church of Christ is so important.  I believe that in my bones, and these institutional decisions, while painful to the core, do not diminish the reality on the ground that this church's work and distinctive witness must — and will — remain strong."

"While there is no way that we could make such large budget reductions without affecting multiple staff positions, we have also sought out efficiencies in building costs and program budgets," said the Rev. Jim Moos.  "Every line item is being examined for intent, purpose and best possible return on our dollar investment." 

The executives, faced with the need to trim $2.3 million in costs by the end of the 2014 budget year, announced the staff reductions as a result of decreasing overall revenue, citing declines in Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) national basic support contributions, special offering support, and resource sales along with increasing draws on reserve funds.

While today's events are one of several steps the UCC executives will implement to reduce the debt in 2014, leadership has also worked to save additional dollars through organizational re-alignment through employee attrition and an early retirement plan offered to qualifying staff this summer.  Collectively, the officers of the church have saved nearly $1.3 million through staff reductions, organizational realignment, and overall programming efficiencies.

The group is also working with a consultant to take an in-depth look at the organizational structure and focus of the denomination's national offices.  Additionally, the UCC executives will be consulting with Conference ministers, national staff, and other stakeholders in an effort to identify other creative opportunities to continue to address the financial stability of the church.  Currently, leadership is also working with a fundraising consultant as the Office of Philanthropy & Stewardship serves to better support the denomination's financial needs.

"I am convinced that the Christian voice of the United Church of Christ is, and will continue to be essential to the mix as we face constantly changing social realities," said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo. "As we look toward the future, we must challenge ourselves to seek creative funding sources that will allow us to focus on our missional purpose as a church that is called to be present and alive in the world." 

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