Slump Hits Churches
As the recession grinds on, churches are seeing an increase in requests for spiritual and monetary support.
CARROLLTON, Texas -- When leaders of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church sat down to plan this year's budget, they knew that extra prayer was in order. The slowing economy was squeezing the 4,000 members of this evangelical megachurch outside Dallas, prompting more families to ask for spiritual and financial help even as fewer could afford to give. To cut 10% from its $6 million budget, the church froze staff salaries, stopped using a daily cleaning service and cut $10,000 from its lawn-care bill. It also laid off five of its 71 staff members, including a popular pastor.
More families ask for spiritual and financial help, even as fewer can afford to give.
"It was painful, like letting go a close family member," said church board Chairman Kurt Baxter.
Across the country, congregations of all sizes and denominations are struggling with issues of faith and finance as the recession grinds on. Churches are scouring their budgets for wasteful spending. And many, like Bent Tree, have taken the unusual step of reducing staff. While the collection plate no longer overflows, churches are seeing an increase in requests for support -- be it for spiritual guidance, monetary help or career advice. And religious leaders have the added task of explaining job losses and pay cuts in spiritual terms.
Churches, synagogues and mosques have historically fared reasonably well during recessions, even as other institutions struggled. But the magnitude of the current downturn has caught up with places of worship, too. wsj.com
*the future holds dim for charities. Makes the priest scandals and their costs look like child's play. Some churches were forced to go bankrupt. We shouldn't now expect anything different.