From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] WCC financial crisis averted, officials say

Date Thu, 28 Aug 2003 14:42:06 -0500

Note #7906 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

WCC financial crisis averted, officials say
August 28, 2003

WCC financial crisis averted, officials say

Spending controls give rise to a 'realistic kind of optimism'

By Stephen Brown
Ecumenical News International

GENEVA - Officials of the World Council of Churches (WCC) said on Aug. 27
that they have averted a financial "crisis" at the global ecumenical agency.

They said declining income is a continuing challenge to the WCC, which in
recent months has been forced to cut staff at its Geneva headquarters, but
expenditures have been curtailed.

"The financial situation of the council is completely under control," the
Rev. Anders Gadegaard, vice-moderator of the WCC's finance committee, told
reporters gathered for a meeting of the council's main governing body, the
central committee. "What you could have called, one or two years ago, a
crisis, is over."

Gadegaard said WCC spending has been reduced by about 20 per cent in the past
two years. That meant cutting the payroll, he said, because most WCC
expenditures - almost 80 percent - are for personnel.

He said the situation warrants a "realistic kind of optimism," although
"there is no room for optimism when you look at the income side."

A financial report for 2002 presented to the central committee this week
showed that income from contributions totaled 41.9 million Swiss francs -
800,000 less than budgeted, and 3.2 million less than in 2001.

Income for 2003 has been estimated at 39 million Swiss francs.

According to the report, more WCC member churches contributed in 2002 - 66
percent of members, up from 53 percent in 2001.

The overall decrease in funds for 2002 was 6.6 million Swiss francs - an
operating deficit of 1.1 million and a decrease of 5.5 million in program
funds. The net decrease in 2001 was 11 million Swiss francs.

The moderator of the finance committee, Bishop McKinley Young, told the
central committee on Aug. 26 that income is expected to be down again in
2004, and there is "a need for cost-cutting measures to continue."

The WCC payroll has lost the equivalent of 21 employees in the past year, and
now has 136 full-time positions, the central committee was told.

Michiel Hardon, the WCC's coordinator for budgeting and planning, said the
financial situation has forced the council to focus on its core programs.

When he arrived at the WCC in 2001, Hardon said, there were 93 programs that
"covered the world, and sometime more than that."

Now there are just 15.

"The important thing is not that the picture on contribution income has
changed," he said. "Income is going down, but we are much more in control of
what is happening."

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