The World Council of Churches, the world?s biggest ecumenical organization, is to cut spending drastically in the face of severe financial problems.
?We are in a crisis. Let?s be frank and straightforward,? said Catholicos Aram I, moderator of the WCC?s central committee, in September.
A four-person task group is to review staff, programs, activities and infrastructure costs and present proposals by the end of October for cutting expenditures.
The WCC finance committee presented to the central committee meeting in Geneva a report saying that staffing costs ?must be considerably reduced since this is the principal expenditure.?
But no figure for the cut was suggested. The WCC currently has about 180 staff at its Geneva headquarters.
The report called for rapid decisions ?in order that costs not trail into 2003? and cautioned that ?delay would result in the need to increase the number of reductions in staff.?
Seeking to save both jobs and programs, a separate report from the WCC?s program committee suggested such cost-saving measures as using ?seconded? staff from member churches for some tasks, contracting out for some services and using less expensive workers, such as interns, retired staff members and ?voluntary missionaries.?
Other measures that could be explored, the committee added, were shorter and less frequent meetings, smaller committees, the contribution of frequent flyer miles and the possibility of corporate or private funding of WCC events. To bring the target results back in line with the budget, WCC plans to cut spending in 2002 by $2.8 million.
The central committee also agreed on contingency plans to take out a mortgage of $5.6 million against the WCC?s headquarters in Geneva.