Southern Baptist mission board laying off staff to cut costs

The International Missions Board is making deep cuts and losing 30 staff.

The International Mission Board (IMB) of the giant Southern Baptist Convention is to close its communications centre in Richmond, Virginia at the end of April with the loss of 30 jobs.

Ten other workers are being transferred to other positions, according to an IMB news release.

The functions of the centre will be carried out by IMB's "existing global network of communication teams and other trusted partners", it said.

A process of retrenchment driven by years of declining support from churches began last autumn, with IMB president David Platt writing in an open letter in September of realising that since 2010 it had "spent a combined $210 million more than people have given to us". It had met shortfalls by selling property and depleting reserves, but this was no longer an option, he said. 

The organisation has said that no missionaries will be required to leave the field as a result of its cost-cutting "reset", which will involve it reducing its headcount by between 600 and 800 people. However, it has offered a voluntary retirement package for workers over 50 with at least five years' service. It also offered a "Hand Raising Opportunity" (HRO), giving overseas and domestic workers the chance to leave with enhanced financial compensation if they choose to do so. Around 450 people work for IMB in the US.

IMB's release said the HRO "offers missionaries and stateside staff members the opportunity to transition outside the IMB if they believe God is leading them to a new place of involvement in mission".

IMB said no other groups or departments would be eliminated during its restructing. David Platt said of the communications staff: "These are some of the kindest servants and leaders in the Richmond office. IMB is indebted to them on many levels. In the days to come, we want to express our honour and appreciation for the countless ways these brothers and sisters have served Christ through the IMB."