FRESNO — California Southern Baptist Convention eliminated two elected staff positions May 13 in response to fixed costs and flat Cooperative Program giving.
The two eliminated positions were both in the Church Revitalization Initiatives Team. Those affected by the reductions are Mike McGuffee and Daryl Watts, both long-tenured employees serving more than 18 years and 27 years, respectively.
McGuffee began his service with CSBC on April 1, 2001 as director of the ministerial leadership department, working primarily to help pastors and church staff members in their quest to become better leaders. Through the years, he maintained those duties as well as becoming a healthy church consultant and most recently a Count the Cost, church revitalization plan, consultant.
Watts began serving as director of the youth ministries department on Oct. 1, 1991. For more than 20 years one of his primary responsibilities was planning, organizing and executing the State Student Conference, along with family ministries, discipleship and most recently stewardship. He also served as a healthy church consultant and a Count the Cost consultant.
Bill Agee, CSBC executive director, is calling on California Southern Baptists to pray for McGuffee and Watts as the decision “impacts each of their ministry and family. Please pray for God to bless them with new beginnings in ministry that continue to impact the Kingdom.”
“This is a painful decision," Agee added, "but one I felt I had to make now to keep our Convention on solid financial footing. I pledge to do all within my purview to continue providing quality resources to the more than 2,300 CSBC congregations.”
Marc Tempesta, CSBC chief financial officer, said the elimination of positions comes as “CSBC faces a potential annual shortfall of almost $400,000 when depreciation, retiree benefits and ministerial protection plan benefits are taken into account, combined with flat CP giving by churches since the Great Recession in 2008."
The highest total for CP giving by churches was $8,017,275 in 2006. Since then, giving has leveled out to about $6.5 million, according to Tempesta. In 2018 CP gifts totaled $6,439,111.
The CSBC Executive Board met May 9-10 during which Board members were apprised of the potential shortfall and, in response, voted to eliminate paying premiums for life and dental insurance for CSBC retirees, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The full Board was not informed of eliminating the two staff positions because of the “sensitive nature of the issue,” according to Agee. However, the Executive Committee, which serves as the personnel committee of the Board, was apprised of and supported the decision.
“My goal in taking this position,” Agee said, is to “empower the vision of churches. That has not wavered since beginning my tenure 24 months ago. This action will not deter CSBC from being a primary resource for our churches in their mission to reach California communities for Christ.”
Revitalization is one of the pillars of Agee’s plan to strengthen CSBC churches. “Losing these positions from the revitalization team is truly a blow.” Agee said. “However, we have trained many volunteer consultants that we believe will help us keep pace with the demand of Count the Cost implementation and coaching.”
Agee said he is confident the Convention can help churches through initiatives from primary ministry teams – evangelism and missions, church revitalization, small church and church planting.
Decisions like this are “never easy and by no means are taken lightly," Agee said. "I felt this is what had to be done to secure the future of California Southern Baptist Convention. Even though our economy seems to be booming, non-profits and religious entities are living in challenging times. We want to be the best stewards of what the Lord provides, and believe this is path on which He led us.”
Agee announced the decision to staff in Fresno on May 13. The staff was given an opportunity to express their feelings and concerns and there was an extended time to pray for McGuffee and Watts.