I've been praying over the seriousness of the deep, painful budget cuts from General Convention while trying to catch up to 'life in the fast lane of parish ministry'.
While clearing off the mountain of mail on my desk, I found this article in Christian Century
Bishops in the United Methodist Church have voted themselves a pay cut after "recognizing the financial challenges facing the church."
The UMC's 50 active U.S. bishops voted to give up their planned pay raises for next year and instead reduce their salaries to the 2008 level, dropping their annual pay from $125,650 to $121,0130. according to United Methodist News Service.
"The current global crisis has uncovered our hesitancy to act, but it has also gifted us with a sense of urgency and an opportunity to lead courageously," the bishops said in a May 8 statement at the conclusion of their annual spring meeting. The bishops also said they will cut their semiannual council meetings from five days to four to save money.
Several bishops said that some regional and local church leaders had already taken similar salary cuts to help keep ministries going.
The picture grew starker the following week when top executives of the United Methodists' 13 general agencies met in Nashville.
For the first time in 50 years, the denomination's publishing house will not be able to contribute $1 million toward pensions for retired clergy. The publishing house, which does not receive any general church funds, has suffered revenue shortfall of at least $8.5 million, according to United Methodist News Service.
Other agencies looked to canceling some meetings, cutting down travel, sharing staff, making layoffs and not filling open positions. The Board of Discipleship, however, said that it will move ahead with plans to start new churches and to hold an international meeting for young people in Germany in 2011.
And then, there's this:
The number of baptisms by Southern Baptists--who consider the rite a gauge of their evangelistic success--has dropped to the lowest rate in two decades.
The denomination, which has also seen a slight decrease in membership numbers, recorded 342,198 baptisms in 2008, a decrease of 1.1 percent from the previous year, according to LifeWay Christian Resources, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention that compiles annual statistics.
The baptism rate is the lowest for Southern Baptists since 1987 and represents the fourth consecutive annual decline, demonstrating a continuing challenge for the nation's largest Protestant denomination. Total SBC membership fell to 16,228,438, a drop of 38,482 members, or 0.2 percent.
LifeWay produces the Annual Church Profile by compiling information from state conventions affiliated with the SBC.--RNS
Finally, just in time, there's this: "Slings and Arrows: Living With Criticism"
I just love this (under)statement:
"Because of its uncanny ability to expose one's weaknesses, the ministry is not an easy fit for those who are particularly sensitive to criticism."
Somebody in the church - in any order of ministry - gimme an, 'Amen.'