On Monday, Cathedral of Hope laid off 10 staff members, the equivalent of six full-time positions because of lower than expected income. Yesterday, the Rev. Jo Hudson sent members a letter explaining the reduction in force, which include voluntary pay cuts by senior staff.
A more detailed story will appear in Friday’s Dallas Voice.
Read the full letter below.
Wednesday, October 3
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Like hundreds of churches and non-profit organizations across our city and our country, Cathedral of Hope has had to make the difficult yet necessary decision to reduce our budget, the size of our staff and, in select cases, salaries. I count these actions as among the most difficult I have experienced in my 15 years of ministry. These decisions were not made lightly, but over time with much thought and prayer.
Our church has long benefited from financial transactions that have often left us with an occasional small surplus of money. Still, with the economic downturn of 2007 and 2008 and the ongoing slow economic recovery, our income through contributions has not kept pace with our expenses.
Since the first of this year, our Board Treasurer, Jeannette Garcia, and our Executive Director, Rev. Rachael Sandifer, have provided articles for our Weekly to keep you informed as to what our expenses and income have been. And earlier this year, our Board of Directors, after carefully considering our projected income and expenses, made the difficult decision to cut our budget.
Three weeks ago, following a Sunday in which Jeannette challenged our congregation to raise the number of auto-givers in our congregation by 300, I preached a sermon that spelled out in detail our current financial position and further challenged our congregation to respond. The good news is that 81 people have since become auto-givers and many of our current auto-givers have increased their contributions, effectively raising our monthly income. However, the increased giving was still not enough to avoid needed action regarding our church budget.
In seeking to be the very best stewards of our church’s resources and in working to ensure the best possible financial future for our congregation, I made the decision, in consultation with the Church Board, to reduce the size of our staff of 44 by the equivalent of six full-time positions.
On Monday of this week, I along with Rev. Sandifer and Rev. Dr. Dawson Taylor, Executive Minister, met with ten members of our church staff family to share with them the painful and difficult decision that their positions (representing full-time, part-time and contract employees from both the ministerial and the administrative sides) were being eliminated, effective immediately.
Rest assured that we took this action as a last resort. We looked at all staff positions in all departments and made our decision based on the positions that we felt the remaining staff could effectively absorb or that we could fill with ministry volunteers while still retaining the best and highest quality of ministry. In addition to the reduction in force, I, along with our Executive Director and our Executive Minister, have taken voluntary pay cuts.
Because we care deeply about the staff that we are losing, we have worked very hard to make sure that they know we will do everything we can to help them through this transition.
Friends, I remind you that we are a great church. We have just unveiled a strategic plan entitled: Remember Tomorrow: A Strategic Plan of the Cathedral of Hope UCC, which spells out a bright and vibrant future for our church. Part of that plan called for the church leadership and Board to ensure the church’s financial stability and growth, as well as be transparent in the financial decisions of the church. This letter is one of many efforts to meet that goal.
Even in the midst of these difficult financial times, our attendance in worship has increased significantly over this time last year; our ministry opportunities have increased significantly over this time last year; and there is no plan to decrease these opportunities, even in the wake of the required budget reductions.
In closing, I ask that you join me supporting those who lost their jobs through your prayers. I hope you will be here this Sunday as we continue to worship God and give thanks for all that we have. Like so many Sundays at Cathedral of Hope, there is much happening. We will celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi and the Consecration of our Order of St. Francis and St. Clare. We will recognize our Sign Language Ministry and all of our congregants who are differently abled as part of the United Church of Christ Access Sunday. We will welcome and recognize political candidates who are on the ballot for November and encourage those who have not yet registered to vote to do so, as this is the last Sunday to register. And we will welcome again our Gospel Choir to worship.
As I have prayed about the decisions made this week, more than once I have remembered what the prophet Jeremiah preached, a message that is certainly one for our church today and always, a message that speaks of our faith that God holds our welfare and our lives no matter the circumstances, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans not to harm you, but to give you a future with hope.”
Now is the time to hope. See you this Sunday.
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson