Alban Institute, a resource for mainline institutions, to shutter

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Alban Consultant Ed White, left, and David Pratt, a former Alban Director of Marketing, work during a meeting. Photo courtesy of West End Strategy Team

Alban Consultant Ed White, left, and David Pratt, a former Alban Director of Marketing, work during a meeting. Photo courtesy of West End Strategy Team

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(RNS) Many mainline churches looked to Alban to provide literature and consultants for maintaining their institutional life, on everything from finding a new pastor to strategies for growth and financial health.

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  • How sad! Alban was a voice of sweet reason in a wilderness of religious rancor. Despite ideological differences, people are the same, and ministers require objective guidance. I believe this is another example of “Killed by the Web, with the Best Intentions.” They will be missed.

  • I, for one, am very sorry to see the Alban Institute close, but I am thankful that their resources will continue to be available through other avenues. I do think that this is also a bellwether for churches struggling to make it into the 21st century – not just mainline. The landscape is shifting faster than it was when Bob Dylan sang, “The times, they are a changn'” (as one who came of age in the 60s that seems almost impossible to imagine). I note with some sadness the observation in the article that being non-profit might have been part of their problem. Perhaps so, but I grieve deeply how much that goes under the name of ministry is more of a profit center. Yet, I am an optimist about the Church, believing God has and will sustain and reinvent as God has been doing for two millennia.

  • Mark Sommers

    Truly Sad! Alban has been exceptionally helpful to me as a pastor and the churches I have served.

  • Kevin Maxey

    When I began in ministry 20 years ago they had the best education and books available. About 10 years ago everything changed and went down hill. The last 2 courses didn’t have the foundation and completely lost the Judeo-Christian base. Part of this was driven by turn over in consultants after James Wind became CEO. I found I wasn’t interested in biometric stress reduction. I was seeking hands on skills I could use in leading congregations in the changing landscape.

  • Richard Goodman

    Who built this little Alban house
    And shut the windows down so close
    My spirit cannot see?
    Who’ll let me out some gala day,
    With implements to fly away,
    Passing pomposity?
    — Emily Dickinson, ‘Bring me the sunset in a cup’, 1896

  • Martin Ericson

    Great resource for my whole professional career. Great stable of gifted writers, thinkers and consultants. A true loss. Blessings and best wishes for Duke, Rowman&Littlefield and others as they pick up the pieces.

  • bob

    Over $600,000 in salaries for 3 employees? No wonder it went broke, which is a real loss. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who only is tasked with the defense of the United States, didn’t make anything near the salary of the head of Alban.

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  • walter hudson

    How sad and yet entirely appropriate for Alban to go down like this
    —The outrageous salaries mimic their corporate masters in overpaying the top while starving the grassroots teachers & organizers who might actually be able to help local congregations.
    —they are going down like their “chief client” because they have adopted the business world as their leadership model, dumping the “pastor of souls” approach for an org chart spirituality.
    most of all Alban is dying because it has tied itself to the American culture and not to the radical discipleship of that guy from Nazareth.

  • Amen, Walter. I have a long comment coming, here, which echoes some of what you’ve written, but is much harder on not just Alban, but the oldster-operated (and I’m an oldster, so I get to criticize) mainline denominations, and how they’ve neither gotten it, nor kept-up with the shift from an industrialized America to a knowledge worker one; and so the predictable is happening. I also hit hard on Alban’s obvious mismanagement.

    It’s awaiting moderation, apparently because I put three or four links in it. Hopefully it’ll appear here soon.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

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  • James Ellison

    Early in my career as a pastor in DC, Alban was a resource that helped me survive. It offered a great yearlong course for beginning pastors. At my 7-year mark, I was renewed by a continuing education offering about long-term pastorates. Roy Oswald was a wise, kind, firmly gentle mentor and guide, a great resource for Alban. A few years ago, I was in some meetings with Mr. Wind and could not believe how much Alban had changed from my early experience. I am not surprised that Alban lost its soul.

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  • David Miller

    I am sorry to see Alban closing, it has been a helpful center for resources that I have used both as a pastor and a faculty member. It is unfortunate that the wisdom of a Loren Mead who could see ahead of the curve for the church in North America in the end failed to inform recent institutional decisions and priorities at Alban.

    The top administrator salaries are embarrassing. I believe that church and para-church institutions should pay a living wage, but we have lost memory of our origins when we benchmark with executive salaries in business – while we seek to serve congregations whose members too often struggle to provide shelter and food for their families.

    Christendom has passed and church-related institutions have to stop acting as though it continues.

  • Myles Alexander

    May the demise of this once wonderful seed result in new wisdom and new life for a once again new church.

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  • New incarnation at Duke and the “consulting alliance” Congregational Consulting Group