The United Church of Canada has laid off 11 more staff in the General Council office as part of broader budget cuts, and expects other positions to be eliminated in the coming months when several contracts are not renewed.
The positions of Mission and Service donor relations coordinator, program coordinator for faith formation and marketing coordinator, among others, were cut, general secretary Nora Sanders said in a news release on Thursday. (You can see a full list of eliminated positions at the bottom of the story.)
“As Nora said in the announcement yesterday, it’s always a very difficult set of decisions that have to be made, and very difficult to bring this news to staff who have served so loyally and faithfully,” said Alan Hall, executive officer of ministry and employment.
Those laid off were notified Thursday, he said.
The layoffs, which are not connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, come as part of a directive from the General Council Executive to cut $4 million from the 2021 budget due to lower Mission and Service givings and assessments from communities of faith. General Council office had been relying on reserve funds in recent years to meet expenditures, Sanders said, which the Executive didn’t think was sustainable. The 43rd General Council in 2018 had ratified a remit directing the Council to operate within the amounts coming from Mission and Service donations and assessments from communities of faith.
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As part of the reductions, former head of philanthropy David Armour was also laid off in May, and grant recipients, including Broadview, were notified that their 2021 grants would be reduced.
Hall said he hopes that these layoffs, including those as a result of contracts ending, will be all for this year. The church will continue to monitor the implications that COVID-19 may have on Mission and Service givings and assessments, and make any necessary adjustments. “We’re hopeful that we’re where we need to be,” he said.
Position eliminations related to Mission and Service, including Armour’s, and marketing are part of broader restructuring in those areas, Hall said.
The program coordinator for ministry recruitment was also laid off, but Hall said that department is more of a regional council responsibility, and the General Council office had been providing some bigger-picture support.
The ecumenical and interfaith program coordinator was also let go, but Hall said that area and existing relationships with other churches and faiths won’t be neglected — there are other staff who will continue the work, but in a less visible way.
Hall said it was “wrenching” to make these decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had originally hoped to be able to make these decisions and act on them in March, but clearly that was not an appropriate time,” he said. “The consideration now is that while we’re not out of the COVID shadow, businesses and organizations are reopening, and would be a better opportunity for folks to find employment than they might have been able to in March and April.”
Full list of eliminated positions, as per The United Church of Canada website:
- Coordinator Mission and Service Donor Relations
- Coordinator Mission and Service Engagement
- Coordinator Marketing
- Information and Statistics Assistant
- Maintenance Technician
- Program Assistant and Communications Support
- Program Assistant Ministry Partnership Animator
- Program Assistant Caribbean and Latin America Partnership Program
- Program Coordinator Faith Formation and Mission
- Program Coordinator Ministry Recruitment
- Program Coordinator Ecumenical and Interfaith
Emma Prestwich is Broadview’s digital editor.
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