Income drop forces BSC layoffs
    August 14 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    With Income trailing last year’s gifts by 3.2 percent or $647,000 through seven months, the Baptist State Convention has laid off three people and eliminated six positions, effective immediately.


    Two of the positions will be combined with related work currently being conducted by two persons each carrying dual responsibilities. Those persons will have the option to apply for the redesigned positions, which will be opened for application by others, as well.


    The Convention has maintained positive cash flow even during the income decline, but careful husbanding of resources is no longer enough because the restrictions on staff travel and ministry expenses could be pared no further without negatively affecting ministry, according to Brian Davis, executive leader for administration and convention relations.


    Three persons whose positions are being eliminated, are:

    Eddie Hammett, senior consultant for discipleship and deacon ministry;

    Wendy Edwards, senior consultant for spiritual formation;

    Rosanna Strickland, resource center manager.


    The Learning Communities coordinator position at Hollifield Leadership Center is being eliminated, and was currently unoccupied, although Kim Duncan, who had held the position, was laid off in May.


    The role of senior consultant for preschool ministries position, held by Cathy Hopkins, is being combined with children’s ministries. Before the retirement of Janice Haywood, Hopkins was the pre-school consultant but has been doing both jobs.


    The senior consultant for western regional resources, held by Lester Evans, is being combined with the associational partnerships director position. He had been western regional resources consultant before assuming the additional role of associational partnerships. 


    Job descriptions that will combine the four roles filled by Hopkins and Evans into two will be presented for consideration by the Position Evaluation Committee of the BSC Executive Committee at its September meeting. 


    Hopkins and Evans will continue to fill their current roles until the newly combined positions have been filled and they may apply for the new positions.


    Davis estimated an annual savings of approximately $500,000 in the staff and position reductions.


    A news release from the Baptist State Convention said, “The convention staff worked diligently to keep spending below receipts, but the prospects for 2010 are still uncertain regarding any significant increase of financial support from the churches.”


     “Currently, because of the economy, the churches of this convention are not being supported financially by their members at the same levels as previous years,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer. “The Convention cannot expect to receive support from the churches when the churches do not have the funds to forward to us.


    “I am convinced that as the churches see their support return the Convention will see an increase in receipts.  However, we are in the difficult situation of making decisions that impact individuals and families.  I take this downsizing very seriously and ask North Carolina Baptists to join me in prayer for the men and women impacted by these decisions.”


    Salary for the position of public relations director, vacant since Aug. 1 when Doug Baker left to become editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, will not be included in the proposed 2010 Cooperative Program budget, which is still not finalized, but the position will remain in the Convention staff structure. 


    Each employee affected by the downsizing has been provided a severance package, a package “significantly greater than our personnel policies prescribe,” according to John Butler, executive leader for business services.


    Funds for those severances are being drawn from reserves, Davis said.


    In the BSC news release Butler said the severances are comparable to those of 2003, when 23 positions were eliminated and 15 persons lost their jobs.


    Since 2003, any time a position became vacant, the personnel evaluation committee had to approve the position’s continuation. Seven such positions have been added in the past six years, such as a writer, Embrace director and scholarship coordinator. If the positions lost when Woman’s Missionary Union moved from under the personnel structure of the BSC are considered, there has been no increase in the 180 persons employed as fulltime BSC staff statewide.


    During consideration of staff reductions, every position throughout the state was considered, Davis said.


    “It is significant that the 2003 downsizing occurred after Cooperative Program receipts had fallen approximately $2 million below budget,” Butler said. “Until this week’s action we had been able to avoid staff cuts during this economic recession through tightly managed expenses and reductions in program costs even though projected 2009 Cooperative Program receipts will be more than $4 million below the approved budget.  Unfortunately, the prolonged recession has left us with no other viable option than to reduce staff expenses.” 

    Additional BSC reporting by Melissa Lilley 


    8/14/2009 5:34:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 5 comments

Patrick Fuller
I am thankful for the service of the wonderful people who are affected by the cuts that have recently become necessary. They have been blessings to me and our church ministry. I am also thankful for our convention leadership who has the responsibility to make tough and unpopular decisions like this knowing that persecution will follow. May we join our hearts together to pray for our convention and those affected. Our awesome God can use this time to bring blessing and opportunity to both in the future if we will simply make it our priority to pray rather than be critical of the decisions that inevitably must be made by ministries and organizations during times like we are facing in America today.
8/19/2009 12:26:55 AM

John Rogers
I will miss both Eddie Hammett and Wendy Edwards. There ministries through the convention has greatly impacted my life and ministry. Eddie brought thoughtful, challenging dialogue to the table and challenged churches before our comfort zones in the areas of discipleship, deacon ministry and penetrating our culture with the Gospel. Wendy's insights and help in spiritual transformation and formation has been a valuable resource and much needed to help us move from informational learning to transformation living. Both have always been responsive to my inquiries and been a source of challenge, encouragement, and help. I will miss their services through the NC Baptist Convention very much.
8/18/2009 8:40:21 AM

Dr. James Willingham
Unfortunately, these layoffs could be just the beginning of such sore separations. In 1990-91 I received some materials on the future workplace from a Vocational Director of a county School system and wrote a response to it. The title of the article,"Future Workplace is Shocking," was written by the then Director of Occupational Education Instruction for the State of New York, Dr. Williard A. Daggett. My response was bleak as I understand the writer to say in essence, "As of right now there is no future for apporximatey 60% of the work force being trained today, including, very likely, our own children." The reason for this was not hard to find; it was due to automation, computerization, and robotics. Add to that reality, the fact of jobs being shipped overseas, and you have a grim situation, one we now face. This one will only grow worse unless make-work jobs are ordered by the powers that be. Interestingly enough I read a work about ten yrs. ago that cited a source written in 1906 about treaties that in the nineties would ship jobs overseas!!! The job situation being what it is, income shall continue to decline for most Baptists, members and churches. The survivors will be those who have the education, talents, skills, positions, supporting networks, where they will be enabled to survive due to the need for their services. Most of these positions are already occupied by people from out of state. Baptists, having been tied to textiles and tobacco, will continue to decline along with all the ministries they support. Along with their decline, there will be a corresponding decline in religious liberty. This is the future, barring some unforeseen possibility of an infusion of cash necessary for the conditions to produce prosperity. Some have long wanted this day, and they are doing everything they can to bring about a change which will be disastrous for civilization. Another factor which might alter things for the better is the Third Great Awakening which so changes society from being self-centered to being other centered. This need not be confused with communism which involves the use of force to achieve its goals. One of our Southern Baptist missionaries back in the 20s said at Southwestern that communism was the invention of the capitalists to control the poor. C. S. Lewis in his sci/fi work, That Hideous Strength, foresaw the conspiracy as succeeding. They get to brainwash people to do whatever they desire. His central character, Ransom, said, "The pull down deep heaven on ther heads." And Heaven came down to earth, and in that presence evil is not longer a viable option. Heaven coming down to earth might well serve as a good description of what a Great Awakening is like. The Second Great Awakening occurred in NC in this area which had been settled and evangelized by people converted in the First Great Awakening. Those two events explain why America became the greatest nation on earth, the one for which people die in the effort to enter. Fo 36 yrs. it has been my prayer that we would have another visitation, a third great awakening which is quite a bit more than a little church revival. Some times I feel like the thing is just about upon us, like Tsunami wave or perhaps like a silent flood rising in the middle of the night. God grant that it shall be so, for now there are beginning to be people who hold beliefs that were held by those who were participants in those early awakenings. O yes, the same theology was involve in the origins of what Kenneth Scott Latourette termed,The Great Century of Missions. Could such a blessing lie before us, one which will win the whole earth for a thousand and one generations by gentle, tender persuasion in order to fulfill the number of the elect for which Christ died, a number which Spurgeon defined in these words from the Bible, "a number which no man can number." Having seen the transforming power of Christ change a home filled with threats of violence and worse in to a place of peace and prayer and Bile reading, I have to think what a blessing it would be to see such a thing through out the whole earth today. Benjamin Franklin describe a little bit of the visitation of the First Great Awakening in his Autobiography, "The whole world has grown religious." He went on to describe how you could hear prayer and hymns coming from homes on the streets of Philadelphia. Hmmm!
8/15/2009 1:15:47 PM

Chadd Snider
Stephen, please do not jump to any conclusions. I didn't know Eddie or Wendy that well, but I did know about their work. They did a wonderful job here and I am sure will continue to do a wonderful job in the future.
I know Rosanna. She is very sweet and kind. She is a great person and a hard worker. I am really going to miss her around the convention.
I work in the mail room area. I help with distributing the mail on occassions. I can assure you that money is no longer coming in like it use to. When I first started the box we have for accounting would almost be so full on some days during a month that I would wonder if I or Hattie would be able to get all the envelops into the box.
Over the last year the box has become less and less full. Most months you are good if you have a day or two you see the box come close to being halfway filled.
The financial situation is real. I have watched as the convention has tightened its belt and found ways to make cuts with materials and use what is on hand instead of buying new or used things. The facilities manager, Tommy, has done a lot to help this situation by doing most of the maintenance to the building himself. There is no telling how much he has saved in repairs alone to this building.
I don't think there is any agenda by any fundamentalist. In truth, the survival of the convention is very real. I would ask that you pray for those that were let go and for the convention that funds will go up so that:
1. The convention can continue to help churches and support missions
2. Further lay offs will not be needed.

Thank you.
8/14/2009 1:13:58 PM

Stephen E Loftis
It's so sad to see the state loss such powerful and effective leaders as Eddie Hammitt and Wendy Edwards, leaders who have served NC Baptists faithfully for many wonderful years in the area of discileship and leadership training. Apparently, discipleship consultation, deacon leadership, and spiritual development are not part of the plan at the convention any longer. One has to wonder why these were fired (uh, laid-off is the more politically correct term). Why not do as most companies and begin with those with the least amount of seniority and service? For example, what about some of the "executive leaders" who are new-comers to convention staff, as compared to the service of folks like Eddie and Wendy? Unless, of course, these newest "Team Leaders" were too deeply entrenched in job/self preservation. What a loss! But, with the power-brokers at the convention, these days, it doesn't come as a huge surprise to see long-time convention/staff leaders, who were serving ALL NC Baptists for years before the theo-political, ultra-conservative, me-first crowd gained control, being removed in favor of persons who agree more "fundamentalistically" with the GCR and the like.
8/14/2009 12:45:18 PM

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