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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  1. Only half a million TV Viewers? And thats an increase? I knew Indycar was struggling but I didn't know it was that bad. Hell, if NASCAR hits 5 Million viewers everyone starts freaking out saying its going down hill. It has a long way to before Indycar even hits NASCAR's bad days.

  2. IU has been talking that line for years with no real progress even with the last Dean, Dr. Brater. Why will an outsider, Dr. Hess, make a difference? With no proof of additional resources (cash in the bank), and a concrete plan to move an academic model that has been outdated for decades with a faculty complacent with tenure and inertia, I can count on IU to remain the same during the tenure of Dr. Hess. One ought to look to Purdue and Notre Dame for change and innovation. It is just too bad that both of those schools do not have their own medical school. Competition might wake up IU. My guess is, that even with those additions to our State, IU will remain in its own little world squandering our State's tax dollars. Why would any donor want to contribute to IU with its track record? What is its strategy to deal with the physician shortage for our State? New leadership will not be enough for us to expect any change.

  3. How do you think the Bridges got approved? I spent a couple days researching PAC's and individual contributions to some city council members during that time. My printouts were inches thick on the two I concentrated on. Finally gave up. Was disgusted with all the donations, and who they were from. Would have taken me days and days to compile a complete list. Tried to give it to the Star reporter, but he thought it was all just fine. (and apparently he was treated well himself) He ended up being laid off or fired though. And then of course, there was land donated to the dad's club, or city, as a partial payoff. All done in the shining example of "charity." No, none of these contributions are a coincidence.

  4. I agree what kind of help or if any will be there for Dr. Ley's patients. I was a patient myself.

  5. What about the hundreds of patients who sought this doctor for the right reasons, to quit drugs. what option do these patients now have, experience horrible withdrawl or return to heroin?? those are the choices. what about the children of these former addicts who's parent(s) WILL not b able to maintain their job, for @ least 2 weeks.. There needs to b an emergency clinic opened for these patients.