The recession hits churches

May 26, 2009
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Churches, which tend to ride out recessions better than many other institutions, are struggling to finish building projects, reporter Kathleen McLaughlin writes in this weekendâ??s IBJ.

The recession and stock market downturn have forced parishioners to scale back commitments, resulting in delays or smaller projects.

St. Paulâ??s Episcopal Church on North Meridian Street has laid off staff and cut giving to other ministries as its endowment shrank.

Grace Community Church in Carmel plans to take on a small amount of debt to finish a $28 million construction program. Some places wouldnâ??t bat an eye at a small loan, but Grace Community is accustomed to building with cash.

If youâ??re part of a faith community, have you reduced your donations? If so, why?

And how do you feel about some of the larger construction projects? Kathleenâ??s story notes that people are gravitating to larger churches, which require bigger buildings. Have the merits of smaller congregations been lost as church membership consolidates?
  • The struggle with churches isn't their size or that they are building Rather, it is with how they prioritize their programs. Most churches are highly insulated and only build programs or facilities that benefit people that are on the inside. We have hundreds of millions of dollars of church building programs going on at any point in time in this community yet we still have people that are sleeping in their cars or struggling to find affordable housing or shelter if needed. Maybe we should stop building new church buildings and share those that we have. Then we can take the dollars that are available for buildings and build for and give to those who are in need...the church would be back to changing the world once again!!
  • We've actually increased our giving during this time as an outward sign of our faith, how blessed we truly are to live in this city/country, and would like to encourage others to do the same! Who do we put our faith in: the Creator of the Universe? Or the Dow and our retirement funds, Obama, Congress?

    Joe S. is right on in that more church dollars should go to the poor, hungry, without shelter, without clothes, etc instead of bigger buildings. Well said.
  • I am on the board of trustees for a church on the north side of town. Our number of contributors has not changed, but we have seen contributions decrease slightly.

    Several of our lump sum contributors have advised us that they are going to be contributing over time this year.
  • Seriously? This is not new news. When your average contributor loses their cash flow or afraid of their cash flow, they will be less willing to donate or contribute to various places. Churches apparently are not immune to the recession.
  • Brilliant commentary on the obvious.......

    Some churches have gotten as greedy as corporate America. Operating like corporate boards. Were they doing Christ's work? In many cases, me thinks probably not.

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