Billy Graham ministry to lay off staff

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association plans to lay off 10 per cent of its staff, or 55 employees, an official at the organisation said this week.

Most of the employees that will be let go are from service areas such as grounds keeping and food service, said Ken Barun Sr, vice president of communications and development at Charlotte-based BGEA, to The Charlotte Observer. But six employees at The Billy Graham Training Center will also be affected by the layoff.

Barun explained that while the job cut is partly due to the economic crisis, it is also because the ministry’s CEO, Franklin Graham, had requested about a year and a half ago to finds ways to reduce costs and be more efficient without compromising the group’s mission.

“With the economy the way it is, we need to make sure we’re tightening our belts as much as we can,” Barun told The Charlotte Observer. “We want to be good stewards of the resources our donors have been kind enough to give us.”

Between 75 to 85 per cent of BGEA’s revenue comes from donations, which have been “relatively flat” this year, Barun noted. Revenue from sales of products such as books and returns on endowment funds have also decreased this year. The layoffs will cut the annual budget by about 15 per cent, reducing it to $84 million, Barun said.

Some of the structural changes to reduce costs include consolidation of some internal departments, doubling up on administrative assistants, and outsourcing jobs such as housekeeping and grounds keeping.

Employees that will be let go will be given 30 days of notice with pay and a severance package based on years of service. They will also receive “outplacement” and spiritual counseling.

The layoffs are scheduled to occur by March 20.

BGEA founder Billy Graham is an evangelical Christian famous for being the spiritual advisor to many US presidents and for sharing the Gospel with over 2.2 billion people during his lifetime (includes live, radio and television broadcasts). He was among the top 20 people Americans said they most admire and consider their personal hero in a Harris Poll released last week.