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Evangelical Ministry, Methodists Cut Staff

February 15, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

NASHVILLE — A large mainstream Protestant church and a prominent conservative evangelical organization both announced staff cuts this week as a result of declining contributions.

The mission board of the 8.3 million-member United Methodist Church has frozen recruiting of new missionaries and notified 19 foreign workers that their contracts won't be renewed.

The denomination's news service said that the agency had eliminated 94 staff slots since December 2001, and that last year's budget of $27.2 million will decrease by $7.5 million this year.

A report on the denomination's national funds said receipts last year were $113 million, a 1.4% drop from 2001.

Similarly, Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical ministry, announced plans to cut $5 million from its budget and to lay off 34 employees after a 3% decline in contributions.

The layoffs are the first in the ministry's 26 years, a spokesman said.

Also, 66 vacant positions will be eliminated from the 1,300-member work force.

The group's president, James Dobson, is considered one of the country's most influential voices among conservative Christian leaders.

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