Southern Baptist mission board to cut as many as 800 positions

(RNS) The Southern Baptist Convention will cut as many as 800 staffers from its foreign missions agency to make up for significant shortfalls in revenue, officials announced Thursday (Aug. 27).

The International Mission Board anticipates an annual budget shortfall of $21 million this year, following several consecutive years of shortfalls.

“Over the past six years, the organization’s expenditures have totaled $210 million more than has been given to it each year,” the board said in an announcement.

International Mission Board President David Platt told staff about the plan in a town hall meeting at its Richmond, Va., headquarters.

Although the board has attempted to address shortfalls by reducing numbers of missionaries through attrition and limited appointments and through property sales, Platt said such methods have not been sufficient.

“(W)e cannot continue to overspend,” he said in a statement. “For the sake of short-term financial responsibility and long-term organizational stability we must act.”

To balance the budget, the board will have to reduce between 600 and 800 of staff and field personnel, he said, adding that that would represent about 15 percent of the mission agency’s employees.

Current employees include about 4,800 missionaries and 450 staff.

The shortfalls will be addressed offering a volunteer retirement plan to employees and restructuring the agency.

The agency had also relied on cash reserves but, according to a “frequently asked questions” document released Thursday is “now close to depleting its reserves and must work to restore them to a more responsible level.”

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