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Global Church of God faces cutbacks, dismisses employees

By Linda Moll Smith

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. -- The Global Church of God, in the midst of a financial crunch, recently terminated the employment of seven headquarters employees.

Though the GCG did not release an official list, In Transition has learned the names of the employees who were dismissed.

They are Jeffrey Patton, managing editor of The World Ahead magazine, The Global Church News internal newsletter and other church publications and literature; Brian Weeks, Feast coordinator; Michael Kahlenberg, director of industrial television, whose responsibilities included making sermon and foreign-language tapes; Brian Hoselton, supervisor of mail opening and data entry; Eric Myers, computer specialist; and Lory and Ron Nelson, receptionist and director of personal correspondence and the news bureau, respectively.

Where some are going

Mr. Patton, who has worked for the church for three and one half years, plans to relocate with his wife, Carolanne, and three children to British Columbia, where she has relatives.

"One chapter of the book is closed," Mr. Patton said. "I hope another is opening."

He would like to write books, "which I never had the time for before."

Mr. Kahlenberg plans to move with his wife and two children to Bakersfield, Calif.

Mr. Myers and his wife and two children plan to move to Nashville, Tenn.

Plans of the others were not known at press time.

Need to economize

The Global Church of God, which has a gross income of about $7 million in the United States, is seeking a $1.2 million loan, necessitating the cutbacks.

Larry Salyer, the church's editorial director and spokesman, spoke of the need to economize:

"It's a twofold effect. We need to reduce our shortfall as well as take out a loan so we can level out our income and have some cash reserves. This work was started with almost nothing, so we're still playing catch-up, in a sense.

"We announced to Global churches and hosts before the Feast that we would be seeking a loan, and we explained that it would be equivalent to a $30,000 household taking out a $5,000 loan for the next five years.

"It's not that our income is downit's showing 25 percent growth year to datebut we've stepped out in television and we're doing everything we can to be efficient and remain effective."

Mr. Salyer said subscriptions to The World Ahead have skyrocketed. "Placing our telecast [also called The World Ahead] on WGN [In Transition, Oct. 28] has been a factor. It has almost doubled our previous responses."

Mr. Salyer said another factor was that actual income has not measuring up to projected income.

"Three years ago our growth was 116 percent. Two years ago it was 93 percent. We thought 48 percent would be fair for this year, and, as you know, in this business all you can go on are projections. But so far we haven't reached that level of growth."

People are staying at home

Mr. Salyer felt the smaller increase in the rate of growth was partially because of the so-called living-room Church of God.

"We believe some of the members who might have joined Global have simply not made the decision to be part of a church organization," he said.

Carl McNair, director of church administration, Edwin Pope, chief financial officer, and Mr. Salyer "were responsible for talking to the ones being laid off, and it was horrendous laying off dedicated, loyal, faithful employees," said Mr. Salyer. "It was a tough job, but all of them are trying hard to keep their spirits up and help us make the necessary transition."

Mr. Salyer encouraged observers of the church's financial situation to keep it in perspective:

"To be fair, you have to appraise these layoffs from an overall view. They are part of us doing our best to trim back. It's like in a family where Dad gets a raise but they still can't make ends meet."

Conference plans may change

Mr. Salyer said department managers are discussing ways to further adjust the budget and noted that the annual ministerial conference, usually held at church headquarters in San Diego, will probably be revamped into a satellite teleconference or multiple smaller conferences.

"We'd rather pour our money into keeping up our front-line work," he said.

Presiding evangelist Roderick C. Meredith wrote about the terminations in an Oct. 28 letter to members. He labeled response to The World Ahead on Chicago-based WGN as "terrific," but then wrote, "Unfortunately, in order to balance the budget, we are going to have to lay off several employees right here in our San Diego offices!"

Dr. Meredith asked for people on the church's mailing list to pray for the unemployed personnel and their families.

He invoked the memory of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, which the Global president left in December, 1992, because of doctrinal differences: "As Mr. Armstrong used to say, `Every setback is like the cocking of a trigger so that the Work can go forward even faster."

"We are grateful that more and brand `new' brethren are beginning to attend [the GCG] and a number are already asking for baptism. So as we continue to do the Work and to `sow the seed,' thousands of new brethren from all over the globe will join our ranks in years to come."

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