BGCT eliminates staff positions


Recent days have been tough for everyone on the staff here as we knew the elimination of positions was coming following the Executive Board. Good people have lost their jobs. Please pray for them as they seek what God has planned for them next and for the rest of the staff as we continue trying to serve Texas Baptists.

 Here’s the official release:

DALLAS – The Baptist General Convention of Texas notified 29 employees Oct. 1-2 that their staff positions are being eliminated effective Oct. 31, according to Ron Gunter, associate executive director and chief operating officer for the convention.

Four other positions are being created that will combine the functions of eight of the reductions, and employees affected by the cuts will be able to apply for those new roles, Gunter said. Three positions in evangelism and leadership have been restructured into contract roles.

Most of the employees were notified Oct. 1. “This is a day I wish we could have avoided,” Gunter said, “but we have a responsibility to do the most effective ministry possible with the available financial resources.”

Of the 29 affected employees, 12 are program staff. The others are in support and clerical roles.

Most work teams were affected by the cuts, including the administrative offices.

Twelve of the lost positions are on the Missions, Evangelism and Ministry Team, the largest BGCT work group. The two jobs reduced in youth evangelism will be restructured into contract positions. Also, two MEM Team ministry assistant roles will be replaced by one.

“The BGCT is blessed to have such a quality staff, so any reduction in that staff means that gifted servants of our Lord are affected,” said Charles Wade, executive director. “I deeply appreciate the work of these men and women, and I’m praying God will raise up new places of service for them. Our staff will be available to them in making this transition.”

The 12 program staff positions being eliminated are as follows, by team:

•     Associational Missions Team
      Camp specialist – Susan Ater

•     Communications Team
      Cooperative Program Services manager – Glenn Majors

•     Congregational Leadership Team
      Church administration specialist – Josie Flores
      Leadership project specialist – Mary Johnson

•     Congregational Strategists Team
      Strategist for Service Area 4 in San Antonio – Jim Furgerson

•     Institutional Ministries Team
      Director of the Baptist Laity Institute – Linda Cross
      Ministry relations/shared resources – Tom Ruane

•     Missions, Evangelism and Ministry Team
      LifeCall Missions director – Cecil Deadman
      Women’s ministry specialist – Debra Hochgraber
      Church architecture specialist and associate director – Russell Maddox
      Texas Partnerships specialist – Tom Robuck
      Music and worship special events coordinator – Debbie Smith

Earlier this year, three positions in the Service Center Team were eliminated, as well, Gunter said.

Texas Baptist Laity Institute leadership will be transferred to Royce Rose, coordinator of vocational theological education on the Institutional Ministries Team. Leadership of LifeCall Missions will be assumed by Lindsay Cofield, multihousing/Key Church director.

Cooperative Program services will be moved into a CP/stewardship role, Gunter said. Terry Austin resigned earlier this year as stewardship director. The new role will promote strategic development of CP promotion and stewardship efforts in churches.

Service Area 4, which includes San Antonio, has had two strategists, Fred Ater and Jim Furgerson. Ater will take on full responsibility for this area.

Each person affected by the cuts will be eligible for financial assistance, insurance continuation, outplacement services and counseling services, said Casey Bailey, senior consultant for HRHouston Group, which handles the BGCT’s human resources functions.

The severance package comprises two weeks of pay for every one year of service, with a minimum of four weeks of pay and a maximum of 12 weeks, Bailey said. The BGCT also will pay the full premiums for medical, dental and/or life insurance during that time. All other accrued benefits will be provided, as well, including a pay out of unused vacation time.

Human Resources will assist with transition into new job opportunities with the BGCT or with other organizations, and will provide resume assistance and search strategies, Bailey said. The Information Technologies office will make computers available for employees to conduct Internet job searches and prepare resumes. Counseling services will be available with the BGCT staff and through referral networks.

“These are difficult times for affected employees and for other workers, as well,” Bailey said. “Everyone needs our prayers right now through this period of transition.”

21 Responses to “BGCT eliminates staff positions”

  1. David Lowrie Says:

    As you read down the list, and see their faces come to mind, it makes the gravity of this decision become very real and personal. I am grieved that things have gotten to this point in our journey.

    I am praying for each of these named and unnamed individuals who served our convention with great dedication and sacrifice. I pray the Lord will open a door of opportunity and effectiveness for them in the days to come.

    It’s my hope and prayer that their sacrifice will call for greater devotion and commitment from each of us. The enterprise of the BGCT is a huge task and it demands that all of us give our very best for the sake of the Kingdom. We cannot allow this slide in our work to continue. It is time for us to rally to the cause, and to change the course of our future together.

    I realize these decisions are made, and for all practical purposes cannot be changed, but I pray for a new day of vitality and effectiveness.

    David Lowrie

  2. Dexton Shores Says:

    We are praying for the twelve program staff members named who suddenly find themselves in unexpected transition. May God grant that each of them find a new place of service where they can fulfill their God-given calling.

    Having personally benefited from the valuable service of three committed ministry assistants at BGCT; I think the value of the seventeen unnamed MAs should be noted by publishing their names, the ministries that will be affected by their departure and thus allowing us to specifically pray for them. They are no doubt hurting just as much as the program staff and also need to be prayed for individually by the Texas Baptists they have so faithfully served. Some face a family finiancial crisis if they don’t find employment soon, as the severance pay will not get some through Thanksgiving or Christmas. By knowing who is affected, fellow Baptists may be instrumental in helping them with possible employment ministry opportunities.

    For most of these ladies, BGCT was not just a job; but rather a ministry opportunity of service to which they were totally committed. They need to know and feel that we value their service and commitment, just as we value the service rendered by program staff.

    Dexton Shores

  3. Lee Says:

    Was any consideration at all given to alternative ways to avoid letting people go, such as a loan, or use of reserve funding?

    This doesn’t make sense. A slight increase in CP giving is forecast, a drop off in investment income and 30 positions get eliminated? Current CP giving is 5% below budget for this year, and 1% below where last years’s giving was. How do you get the prediction of a slight increase out of that?

    And there are some other things that bother me. No cuts were made in the executive administrative staff. No salary cuts were made there, either.

    This could have been handled differently.

  4. Lee Says:

    Let me add, David, that while these decisions have been made at the executive board level, the convention has not voted on this budget, and that leaves the door open for changing this decision.

  5. Larry Floyd Says:

    Our prayers are with them, and I echo the need to keep our ear to the ground for opportunities that we hear of, so that we may let our brothers and sisters know of a new place of service that hey could possibly serve in. These are the good guys. We know them by name and face and know their hearts. Having been employed at the BGCT in the past, I know when tough decisions need to be made, but this is way too many, without even a convention vote?

    Let’s wait and see what the people have to say about the areas that will not be of service any longer. No life call? Cecil Deadman would cut of his arm to serve people. Oh yeah, Lindsey Coefield is going to add that one to his other 50 things he already does.

    No camp administator? How many of you were called to the ministry or saved, or made other decisions during your camp days? Surely there could have been another way to find funds for important ministries like these.

    I am not sure where this road is headed, but it sure has come to a fork. Which path will we choose to travel on?

  6. Jonathan Hernandez Says:

    I am sure the Baptist family will gather together and pray for those who, in some instances, did not need to be terminated. It seems to me that, as Lee says, the bottom rung of the ladder always gets the cuts or terminations. What about the administrative staff? Couldn’t they have taken some of the brunt of the so-called financial crunch by taking a small reduction in salary or in their areas of administration? We talk so much of concern as Gunter says and of responsibility in using available funds responsibly, but always as it affects others. Maybe it is time to downsize, not so much in service areas, but in salaries, benefits, and compensations, especially after a resignation for those in administrative positions. Tony Romo, the Cowboys quarterback said it in a very practical way. Speaking of the projected new contract for him that people are talking about ($25 million plus), he says, I don’t even know what to do with 1 or 2 million. God help us get back to the basics of “service” and do a better job of managing the financial rewards of such service. Others will better benefit from our frugality.

  7. Tim Dahl Says:

    Just to echo a few and add some personal thing:

    1. MAs are people to. Most likely, underpaid and single mothers. To use the word “callous” here would be an understatement concerning our leadership.

    2. The “severance pay” is a joke. There needs to be deep repentance at our upper levels of leadership.

    3. Someone said the Board would be more effective now… I’m wondering when that prophecy will come true? When will they stop the bad decisions?

    4. There needs to be a slash, starting at the top, imnsho.


  8. Wesley Shotwell Says:

    Perhaps there needs to be some repentance from those who have slashed their church’s cooperative program gifts, but are now complaining because of the inevitable results.

  9. David Lowrie Says:


    Thank you for your calm voice of reason and perspective in these difficult times. I have appreciated how you have reminded us of our “boundaries” and how we need to work together especially in times we disagree.

    I think you would agree with me that there is plenty of room at the altar for repentance from all of us. As a pastor you know the struggle we face in raising funds for our budgets. On occasion people do try to send a message to us by withholding funds. Often this happens when they feel as if their voice has not been heard. I am convinced for my followers of Jesus withholding funds is an act of last resort. When it gets to this point the leadership is not paying attention, or you have reach a crossroads of two competing visions.

    I deeply regret these good people have become the victims of the struggles within our convention. I hope and pray new winds are blowing, but as you suggest we need to stop pointing fingers of blame and accusation and start taking a hard look at how we found ourselves in this spot, and what are we going to do to move from here in a positive direction.

    I am confident Dr. Wade and his leadership team did what they believed at the time was in the best interest of our convention. This action is not the end of the journey it is just another step. The critical thing is what do we do from here.

    David Lowrie

  10. Wesley Shotwell Says:


    All I am saying is that there are consequences to withholding money. When those consequences come to their inevitable resolution no one should be surprised. There is much moaning and groaning (and I am equally concerned for those who lost their jobs) but no one should be shocked.


  11. Ferrell Says:

    You’re exactly right about the value of the support staff who will be losing their jobs. They are wonderful folks, and they have provided a great service to Texas Baptists. We did not release their names because we do not announce in the media the hiring and departure of support staff. Some of the program staff people preferred that there names not be reported, but we felt we needed to follow our normal approach.

    I understand a number of alternatives were considered by the executive leadership, including the continued use of allocated funds as was done for the 2007 budget. After they considered other options, they felt this would be the best approach. Lee, you raise some good questions about the budget itself. I hope to be able to provide some answers soon.

  12. David Lowrie Says:


    Thank you. I fully agree. Bill and I stepped into this situation because we had concerns about the direction our convention was going. I don’t know if I could help or not, but we felt it was worth a try especially in light of the fact that the majority of the churches who give to our convention are SBC churches. Our concern was that we were losing touch with these churches and this was driving our financial problem.

    Of course the obvious white elephant in the living room is the fact we lost so many churches to the SBTC. I am suggesting we did anything wrong, but you cannot carry on business as usual and lost that many churches and their financial support. I guess to be frank it is amazing Charles has been able to hold on to so much of our staff this long in light of the huge burden our institutions put on us financially. It is just sad to see this crop of our seeds of discontent and distrust come to harvest, but I trust in the Lord who works in the midst of chaos as you do. It is not a time to wring our hands but to join hands and move forward. The staff members laid off who I have had personal contact with have been gracious, disappointed, but confident in the Lord. I was amazed at their attitudes, and humbled.

    Wesley, I appreciate you. On a number of blogs you have been a voice of reason and thoughtfulness. Thank you.

    David Lowrie

  13. David Lowrie Says:

    Oops, my “presidential grammar” bug hit me again!

    I meant to say “I am NOT suggesting we did anything wrong, but we cannot carry on business as usual and lose that many churches and their financial support”.

    Lee, as I shared with you on an other sight I have a big problem. I am just thank my English professor wife does not read these sights or I would be writing sentences again!

    Have a great weekend one and all. Don’t forget to rest and worship. Remember Sunday is a “holy holiday”.

    David Lowrie

  14. David Lowrie Says:

    Oops…I better quit!

    I know it is “site” not “sight”–I’m not blind!

    Ferrell and John, I am not trying to drive you up the wall with my grammar mistakes. I guess you can see why freshmen English at Baylor was quite an adventure for me! I am so thankful I married Robyn. Can you imagine what I was like 25 years ago!

    You know the sad thing is I try to come off so “presidential” but like President Bush so aptly said recently “childrens do learn”. You have to love him.

    David Lowrie

  15. Lee Says:

    You cannot expect churches to keep up their Cooperative Program giving in consideration of the way the BGCT has handled that money in recent years. And it isn’t just the $1.5 million that was handed out without accountability in the Valley. It’s the influence peddling, the favors done in terms of hiring well-connected people and the salaries that are paid on the executive level. Two of the members of our church stewardship team live on the family allowance of social security benefits and a small pension. Do you realize what a task it is to convince them to raise our Cooperative Program giving when they know what those executives make, and what has happened to millions of Cooperative Program dollars?

    Then, along come these job cuts, and the high paid executive administration isn’t cut at all. The executive director scolds the staff and tells them that if they hadn’t participated in the disparagement of the BGCT ministry, they might still have a job. Decisions are made to participate in controversial gatherings and organizations without any consultation of the convention whatsoever. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that people aren’t aware of this. They are. It’s like this administration seems almost bent on shooting itself in the foot, and they ran out of feet a long, long time ago.

    Don’t scold churches for cutting their Cooperative Program giving and that these layoffs are a result of that. Aside from the fact that the BGCT has announced an anticipate increase in Cooperative Program giving for next year, and that the layoffs are the result of a drop in investment, not CP, income, I think we are well beyond the point of realizing that it is the BGCT which must now go about the task of pro-actively earning the trust of the churches that it has lost through a series of administrative blunders and unfortunate circumstances.

  16. Tim Dahl Says:


    You said that so much better than I ever could.


  17. David Says:

    1. Again: the average Texas Baptist is fairly well-uniformed of recent BGCT happenings, CP anything, who the convention’s executive director is, and that this blogsite exists (frequent bloggers here have about . . . a zillion times the information as the average Texas Baptist);

    2. No state Baptist convention anywhere in the US is really famous for its biblical growth presently (increase in spiritual likeness to Christ, numbers being baptized, ministries added, and mission sites developed);

    3. Contributions to the BGCT are based on actual receipts, not anticipated receipts; congregations declining in giving due to decreases in attendance result in fewer CP dollars passed along to the BGCT (only $281 less from each of the convention’s 5700 affiliated congregations–most of which, as we know, are smallish and about whom such a decline is possible/likely in these times–results in a deficit of $1.5 million dollars in any year);

    4. Intentionally reducing levels of giving to the BGCT via the CP assumes a degree of awareness, strategy, and/or leadership which may not be reality in the average Texas Baptist church (cf. #’s 1 and 2 above);

    5. Settle on explanations only after interacting directly–phone calls/emails/lunches in person–with more of those involved.

  18. David Says:


    “. . . The total Cooperative Program budget of $52,300,000 will reflect an increase of $300,000, or slightly more than one half of one percent, for the next budget year. The basically flat budget – up 0.58% – reflects the first time that the state convention has reigned in spending since a similar economic slowdown affected the nation in 2004.

    “State conventions plan budgets at this time of year based on the previous year’s Cooperative Program receipts, which for the 2008 budget year represents the time frame from June 1, 2006 through May 31, 2007. Those numbers are then worked into the formula as they try to project the next year’s operating expenses.

    “Conventions announce their proposed budgets each fall as they prepare for their annual meetings where messengers vote on the financial plan.

    “Neighboring state conventions are reporting a similar trend with a decrease in offering receipts and are looking closely at the developing trend. For the first time in recent history, the Florida Baptist Convention is recommending a budget that is actually less than the previous year. While the decrease is only $12,000 or .03%, state Executive Director-Treasurer John Sullivan said the reduced budget reflects a general belt-tightening felt across the state.

    “GBC employees, like their fellow state workers in Florida, will not receive a salary increase in the 2008 year. The budget will call for better stewardship of resources that are being forwarded to the state convention from the convention’s 3,601 churches . . .”

    Read the rest of it here: (and read posting above; the times, they are a’changing . . . so let’s lead our congregations better).

  19. David Lowrie Says:


    I appreciate your insightful analysis of our current situation. Granted a portion of our situation could be a slowing economy. It could also be the stagnation and decline of many of our churches, but it would be wrong for us to not admit that we have problems in our camp that need to be address.

    It is obvious we do not live in simple times with simple answers. We live in a very complex time with difficult challenges on every hand. To steer through this maze it is going to take a best minds working together in an atmosphere of trust, and most of all a fresh wind of the Spirit of God blowing among us.

    Thank you for keeping our eyes on the big picture.

    David Lowrie

  20. An Edited Blog, as it should be « Spiritual Samurai Says:

    […] […]

  21. Resumes Says:


    […]BGCT eliminates staff positions « We Are Texas Baptists[…]…

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