|LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Preceding what will be a reorganization of the entire Kentucky Baptist Convention, KBC Mission Board employees have been asked to consider retiring early or resigning voluntarily.
In a KBC staff-only meeting March 7, Executive Director Paul Chitwood proposed the offer to all of the convention's 73 full-time employees.
The details of the offer include an early retirement option for all full-time employees age 60 and older or who will turn 60 by the end of the year. Those who accept the offer will receive full retirement benefits, including health care coverage until age 65 and Medicare supplement coverage past 65. A cash incentive also will be paid out based on an employee's years of service, the equivalent of one week's pay for every year worked, up to a 20-year maximum allowance.
According to KBC officials, 26 employees are eligible for early retirement.
For those employees not yet eligible for early retirement, the KBC has offered a "voluntary resignation incentive."
Those who choose that offer will be able to retain their jobs until June 30, then will be paid 90 days of salary and benefits. If an employee leaves earlier, the 90-day incentive will be paid upon departure.
Employees have 45 days from March 7 to accept or reject the offers.
"I believe these current offers are the best opportunities that will come for anyone who is considering either retirement or other ministry or work opportunities," Chitwood stated in a report that was presented to KBC staff.
One caveat of the deal is that for those who opt not to retire early or resign, their positions could be eliminated if the reorganization plan -- which Chitwood will present to the KBC Mission Board May 7 -- is approved. Those employees would be terminated with no severance pay or benefits by the end of May. They also would not be eligible for unemployment benefits due to the convention's status as a nonprofit religious organization.
No positions have been eliminated as of yet, and Chitwood declined to say what the reorganization would look like. However, KBC staff members told the Western Recorder after the meeting that Chitwood acknowledged that the reduction of staff would be significant. (The Western Recorder, Kentucky Baptist Foundation and Woman's Missionary Union, which all have offices at the Kentucky Baptist Building, were asked not to attend the meeting.)
According to Chitwood's statement, the move is necessitated by a decade-long decline in Cooperative Program giving from Kentucky Baptist churches, mostly due to the economic recession.
Added to that decline is the Kentucky Baptist messengers' vote in 2010 to achieve a down-the-middle split of Cooperative Program funds between the KBC and the Southern Baptist Convention by 2020.
All of those factors combined "have created significant challenges for our KBC Mission Board staffing and strategy," Chitwood noted.
In an email to the Western Recorder responding to a series of follow-up questions, Chitwood said the KBC is indeed facing "difficult days and hard decisions."
"I believe this measure is the most compassionate plan given the current needs of the KBC," he noted. Those who are ready to retire or move on "know that at least some provision is made for them," he added. Continued...