In light of the recent budget cuts, the World Council of Churches (WCC) announced plans to reorganize existing staff members around the five "historic themes" of the Council's work. These changes not only reflect the WCC's need to reduce planned expenses for 2003, but also the Council's mandate to unify their 342 member churches worldwide.
The five themes are: faith and order; mission and ecumenical formation; justice, peace and creation; international affairs, peace and human security; diakonia and solidarity.
Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, the general secretary of the WCC stated, "The Council, through this reorganization, has manifested its will and its ability to respond constructively to a critical situation. The adjustment of the internal organization and leadership structure will result in a clearer profile of the WCC's programmes and strengthen its cooperation with ecumenical partners."
Faced with a predicted shortfall of income, the WCC reduced its budget for 2003 to 7.4 million. This amount includes a CHF 1.1 surplus as the general "cushion for contingencies," and the planned expenses of 6.3 million. The reduction in budgeted expenses will be accompanied by an income-generating strategy that will focus on ensuring the support of current donors, as well as establish relations with new donors.
WCC Income Monitoring and Development director Michiel Hardon says, "The reorganization and related cuts in expenditures are an essential element in the WCC income generation policy. A more effective organization is key for the quality of our work and will increase the confidence and, as a consequence, hopefully, the support of our main funding partners".
Over the last three years, the combination of reduced contributions from donors and losses in the value of its investment portfolio lead to a large financial exhaustion on the WCC's reserves. The Central Committee, the WCC's policy decision-making body, called for the creation of a task group of four Central Committee members to review the situation and advise staff on the steps needed to reduce expenses, during its September 2002 meeting in Geneva.
The committee's conclusive report was received by WCC and CC members who met from 14-15 November in Geneva.
To accommodate the announced budget cuts for 2003, the WCC staff will be reduced from 157 full time equivalent positions to 141 officers. This reduction will be accomplished via retirements, relocation of activities and staff positions in cooperation with regional partners, reductions of working time, and termination of contracts.
"We hope that these changes in the organization will lead to a period of stability in which the staff, member churches and other supporters of the WCC are able to devote themselves to meeting the global ecumenical challenges before us," says WCC vice-moderator Dr Marion Best.
By Pauline J.