Over the weekend, The United Church of Canada General Council Executive decided to move ahead with $4 million in budget cuts, in order to manage reductions in Mission & Service donations and assessments from communities of faith.
“The Executive directed the General Secretary to take whatever steps needed in 2020 to achieve the savings in 2021, according to the agreed budget principles,” notes from the meeting said. Cuts will begin with reductions in the amounts of grants for next year, as well as a decrease in the number of staff at the General Council office.
Erik Mathiesen, chief financial officer for The United Church of Canada, says that these cuts have been in progress for a year and a half, but the timing is bad. “This has nothing to do with COVID-19 at all,” he says. “This is a normal, long-term budget process that’s been planned for the last few years.”
The one impact that Mathiesen acknowledged COVID-19 might have on budget cuts is that while the magnitude of cuts was meant to offer several years’ respite from any future reduction measures, the current economic crisis may reduce that buffer.
Notably, no cuts are currently planned for Indigenous ministries.
In addition, an emergency COVID-19 loans program will be created to support communities of faith as they negotiate the fallout from this pandemic. Program details will be shared once they’re finalized, and according to the meeting notes, “Criteria will be kept as simple as possible to enable timely access to funds.”
Broadview is an award-winning progressive Christian magazine, featuring stories about spirituality, justice and ethical living. For more of our content, subscribe to the magazine today.