Sunday, December 14, 2008

WMU provides creative, biblical response to the growing recession

Three cheers for Woman's Missionary Union and its willingness to act creatively and biblically during times of economic uncertainty and belt-tightening!

Instead of acting in the usual church-bureaucratic fashion—following the secular world's lead of laying people off or camouflaging its actions as some sort of reorganization—WMU has provided some important new groundwork for how to cope with the economic turmoil facing the United States and the rest of the world today.

According to Baptist Press on Friday: "During a Dec. 10 meeting at the 120-year-old organization’s Birmingham, Ala., headquarters, WMU Executive Director Wanda S. Lee told employees about the measures, which include budget reductions, streamlining expenses, a hiring freeze on vacant positions, a reduction on employer contributions to employee retirement plans, a freeze on merit pay increases, elimination of incentive bonuses in 2009 and the implementation of four weeks unpaid furlough for each staff member between January and August 2009."

News reports say WMU leadership sought to avoid layoffs and keep health insurance affordable for its about 100 employees, most of whom are female.

Putting individuals and families first and refusing to succumb to kneejerk business patterns which make some individuals and families suffer more than others, WMU acted in ways more consistent with biblical teachings about how Christians are to treat each other.

As the current economic recession continues to unfurl, church groups across the country are continuing to react in various ways, some more consistent than others with biblical principles.  Many are amping up their pleas for more donations even as their donors' home values, retirement accounts, and incomes slide. Some such as Focus on the Family have cut jobs and laid off people. (See my previous blog on this.) And still others are quietly going about reorganizations, which do the dirty work of layoffs but with a "positive" public spin put on it.

These are difficult times mostly because even governments don't seem to know exactly what to do to halt the declines. And predictions about how long this recession is going to last and how deep it eventually will become keep growing.

Interesting to note in WMU's actions is that most measures are short-term and time-limited. Most seem to be confined to 2009. That pattern seems to argue for optimism that the current situation will soon turn around. We can only hope WMU is right.

Meanwhile, individual Christians, churches, church institutions, and parachurch organizations would all do well to take note of WMU's biblically based creativity in addressing the current situation. 

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