Georgia Baptists offer voluntary early retirement to 50 employees

DULUTH, Ga. (BP) – The Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) has offered voluntary early retirement to 50 employees to “right-size” the organization in the midst of dwindling revenue, GBMB Executive Director Thomas Hammond told Baptist Press.

“We’re trying to right-size our organization based upon our revenue, based upon our anticipated revenue and the employee costs,” Hammond said of the offer, which was extended to eligible employees Oct. 21. “Our desire is to push as much money to the field as possible to help our pastors, their families and churches to be healthier.”

Fifty employees are eligible for the retirement package, which retains certain longstanding benefits that will no longer be offered in 2021, according to Hammond. The GBMB’s website lists 97 employees.

“There was a very gracious benefit package in the retirement package offered to our staff. The (GBMB) executive committee voted to remove that benefit package,” Hammond said. “So what we’re doing is, we’re telling our staff who’ve been working for us for a number of years, ‘If you want this benefit package, you need to take this retirement. Because after January 1, that offer goes away.’ … We’re being as gracious as we possibly can.”

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The decrease in GBMB employee retirement benefits was among various budget cuts approved in September by the executive committee in an attempt to deal with years of declining revenue, The Christian Index reported. The 2021 GBMB Cooperative Program budget of $37,835,000 represents a 6 percent cut from the current year.

Hammond said he doesn’t anticipate all 50 eligible employees will accept voluntary retirement, but that the GBMB will “continue to do everything necessary to right-size the organization. We’re obligated to do this.” Eligible employees have until Dec. 4 to accept the offer.

Hammond said even if all 50 eligible employees took the early retirement option, the GBMB would “still have the largest number of fulltime staff of any state convention.”

“While the losses to Georgia are great, we still have a very large workforce that’s extremely talented and hardworking,” he said. “We want to continue to do all that we can to help our pastors and our churches. But to do so, we’ve got … to be better positioned financially, to be a stronger mission board.”

In previous 2020 personnel decisions, the GBMB furloughed some employees but returned some of them to active work, Hammond said. “There were some folks that were furloughed that we did let go of,” he said.

Hammond was elected GBMB executive director in September 2018.

This article was originally published by Baptist Press at baptistpress.com

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