RICHMOND, Va. – Multiple sources are indicating some major changes in personnel are taking place at the headquarters of the International Mission Board (IMB) in Richmond.
The entire IMB communications team has been terminated, a source told the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN) Jan. 13. The number of Richmond employees affected is estimated at 30.
The source said the communications staff will be paid through April and work through February. A follow-up meeting regarding the future of the communications staff is expected today (Jan. 14).
IMB President David Platt announced a dramatic “drawdown” in the Southern Baptist mission organization’s force in August 2015 in an effort to address financial shortfalls. It was a move that resulted in a firestorm of reaction by both supporters and opponents of the plan. Platt said the IMB operated in the red in 2014, with the agency’s operating expenses exceeding income by nearly $21 million.
At the IMB’s February trustee meeting, Platt proposed streamlining the mission entity’s strategy and structure, a move he said was in keeping with IMB's mission to exalt Christ and work more effectively toward accomplishing the Great Commission with available resources.
At its May trustee meeting, IMB trustees streamlined guidelines for appointing new personnel to fulfill their missionary calling. The result of the new standards was expected to result in more nontenured missionary personnel on the field, some of whom would be funded in nontraditional ways.
The drawdown announcement and “reset of the organization” as Platt called it, included reducing 600-800 of the IMB's staff and field personnel – which is 15 percent of the entity’s total personnel.
The staff reduction began with a voluntary retirement incentive for all eligible employees, including both missionaries and staff. Personnel who accepted the incentive finalized their decisions in early December. Phase two of the plan was to include consolidating support services, recalibrating mobilization, assessing global engagement and re-envisioning training.
The ABN will provide updates, as additional information is available.