Church of the Brethren Announces Layoffs from Denominational Staff

Nine positions on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff have been cut as part of balancing the 2012 budget. The layoffs follow a new management structure for staff (see announced in August by general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

The need to reduce next year’s budget was anticipated for some time by staff and board doing financial planning. For two years the Mission and Ministry Board has chosen to use reserves to balance the Core Ministries budget, wanting time to complete a strategic plan before making changes in staffing structure.

In early July, the board approved a 2012 budget parameter that requires reductions of $638,000 to achieve a balanced budget in the Core Ministries Fund. Contributing factors to the budget gap include the continuing economic recession, declining contributions from congregations and individuals, and increasing costs for health insurance and other expenses.

Three voluntary retirements and two voluntary resignations announced earlier this month also are considered part of the staffing cuts that will help accomplish the budget reduction.

Departing employees are receiving a severance package of three months’ full salary and benefits and access to funds for job search and counseling services. The relatively generous severance package is provided because the former church employees are not eligible for unemployment benefits from the state.

Those laid off Sept. 28 include:

Judy Keyser, treasurer and associate general secretary of Operations, who also served as Chief Financial Officer and treasurer of the Church of the Brethren. She has worked for the denomination for 25 years, since 1986 when she was appointed director of Financial Operations in the Treasurer’s Office of the former General Board. For a time she also served as controller, starting in 1989. She became CFO in 1995. Over the years, she has worked closely with church leadership including the Annual Conference officers and the Mission and Ministry Board and former General Board in doing financial planning and setting budget priorities for the denomination, also holding major responsibility for the financial reporting of the denomination. As associate general secretary for Operations she provided oversight for a number of funds of the denomination, led staff in budgeting and setting spending priorities, oversaw the regular updating and revising of financial policies, helped guide investment strategies, and was responsible for banking practices for the organization.

Ken Neher, director of Stewardship and Donor Development, who has held the position for 13 of his 15 years of employment with the Church of the Brethren. Starting in 1994, he worked as a part-time officer for Planned Giving in the far west area, and then became director of Funding. He has overseen the staff of the Stewardship and Donor Development department. His work has included stewardship education, fundraising mailings and newsletters, visits with donors and congregations, ecumenical stewardship activities, and helping to launch online gift solicitation for the Church of the Brethren using new website and e-mail systems. During his employment he earned the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential. He worked out of a home office in Wenatchee, Wash.

Joy Willrett, program assistant for Congregational Life Ministries, who has been an employee for 13 years, since 1998. She started as a customer service and resourcing specialist for Brethren Press, then in 2004 took the program assistant position in Congregational Life. Her primary responsibility was to support the executive director of the department, but she also supported additional staff as new positions were filled. She handled day-to-day paperwork and financial transactions, fielded inquiries, and helped with registration for meetings.

Pierre Covington, mail room supervisor, who has worked for Buildings and Grounds at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., since 2000. Over the course of 11 years with the Church of the Brethren, he also assisted with property and equipment maintenance, running audio visual equipment, logistical details for large gatherings such as meetings of boards of denominational agencies, moving of offices and furniture at times of staff transition, and oversight of packing and loading of materials trucked to Annual Conference each year.

Brenda Hayward, receptionist for the General Offices, who has served in the position for six years since 2005. She provided a welcoming presence on the telephone switchboard and welcomed visitors, guests, and outside vendors. She also carried out a number of additional daily tasks for the Buildings and Grounds department. Karin Krog, who began as director of Human Resources in 2006. Her position ends Dec. 31. She has overseen human resources functions at the General Offices and Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and has been responsible for relationship with the Brethren Support Staff Association. During her tenure she designed a new vacation policy, moved payroll to a fully automated online system, and initiated a major revision of the employee handbook.

Tim Stauffer, technical support for the Information Services department at the General Offices, who started as a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker in 2006. He was promoted to fulltime employment in 2008. Over five years, he assisted with PC maintenance and problem solving, and with maintenance of the office’s network servers and related work.

Linda Newman, assistant to the director of Buildings and Grounds at the General Offices since 2008. In three years of work for the church she took on various projects and numerous tasks, from the simple to the complex, such as relationships with vendors, meeting logistics, purchasing of supplies, and covering the switchboard as needed.

Katherine Boeger-Knight, coordinator of recruitment and service advocate for Brethren Volunteer Service and Global Mission Partnerships, who began her work in February this year. In her short tenure, she visited all major conferences in the denomination and a number of smaller events, speaking about BVS and interpreting the latest information on conscientious objection.

As responsibilities are rearranged and in light of the strategic plan, a few new positions will be created in the next few weeks.

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