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Agencies announce restructuring, more layoffs

The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications,
says an agency restructuring plan calls for greater attention to youth and
young adults and social media. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.

By Kathy L. Gilbert*
August 4, 2009 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

Two United Methodist agencies are eliminating more than 50 jobs in restructuring plans precipitated by the economic crisis.

The Board of Global Ministries announced it eliminated 45 jobs, including 19 positions held by people who took buyouts or early retirement. United Methodist Communications is eliminating seven positions.

Both agencies said the restructuring plans will allow them to continue to meet church needs despite the cuts.

The Rev. Edward W. Paup, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. A UMNS photo by Cassandra Heller.

"It is a new day and we are going forward," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications. “We must focus on priorities that best serve the mission of the church.”

The 45 positions eliminated at Global Ministries are in addition to cuts last February and may not represent the last of the reductions as the 2010 budget is completed, said the Rev. Edward W. Paup, top executive of the mission agency.

"We deeply regret the loss of so many valued colleagues," Paup said. "We appreciate their contributions over their terms of employment. Despite these real losses, Global Ministries retains the capacity to engage in quality mission work on a global scale."

The restructuring likely will not affect the agency’s work in the field, Paup said. He added the number of missionaries will not be reduced. There are 244 fully funded missionaries and an additional 88 who receive “significant” funding through Global Ministries.

"Global mission today is a matter of partnerships involving congregations, districts, annual conferences, and Global Ministries,” Paup said. “Our new structure deliberately promotes greater interaction among missionary services, our mission initiatives, volunteers in mission, and our relief, health and humanitarian outreach."

At United Methodist Communications, the restructuring plan calls for greater attention to youth and young adults and social media.

The focus is a strategic change that was in the plan for the agency regardless of the economy, Hollon said. "The economy is not the driving force, it is the precipitating factor."

Among other planned changes, InfoServ, the agency's information service, will transition to an online service. Interpreter magazine, a print publication for church leadership, will focus more on lifestyle concerns of leaders and how their lives intersect with their Christian faith.

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However, "the change does not come without some painful choices,” Hollon said.

"We have a great concern for those staff that are losing their jobs. They are good people. The financial crunch made this a difficult decision, and we will do what we can to be supportive of them," he said. Thirteen people will be reassigned to other jobs.

*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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