Episcopal Church Projects $5-Million 1995 Shortfall

RELIGIOUS NEWS SERVICE

The Episcopal Church's projected $5-million shortfall for 1995 could result in the loss of up to 40 jobs at the church's national headquarters here, according to church officials.

The projected cutbacks, to be accomplished through layoffs and early retirements, come on the heels of another major budgetary shake-up in 1991 that forced the elimination of one-fifth of the church's national staff positions.

The latest round of cuts, which could bring the number of jobs down to about 190, is part of an overall effort to reconfigure the church's national program structure. The restructuring plan is scheduled to be considered by the church's Executive Council at a five-day meeting that begins Monday in Norfolk, Va.

If approved in Norfolk, the proposal will be reworked into final form by a joint committee on program, budget and finance for presentation in August at the church's triennial General Convention in Indianapolis.

Church officials estimate that anywhere from 25 to 40 staff members--out of a total of 228 full-time permanent employees at the church's national headquarters--will leave before 1995.

Some staff are being encouraged to take early retirement--one reason the exact number of layoffs remained unclear Jan. 28.

Church officials cautioned that proposals are at a tentative stage and are subject to further changes. However, officials have made it clear that the restructuring plan will result in some "involuntary terminations."

In a statement from the church, Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning said the council is being "called to make hard and courageous decisions.

"Some will be extremely painful, others will be very exciting, all will be renewing."

Browning, the 1.6-million-member denomination's top official, also expressed "deep pastoral concern" for the staff members who will leave before 1995.

The church statement said that, if approved, the reorganization will regroup a number of program units and eliminate some others.

Among the programs being phased out is Volunteers for Mission, which currently has about 50 volunteers placed in mission assignments around the world.

In its place, responsibility for mission programs will be shifted to local dioceses and congregations.

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