NEWS STORY: More Layoffs, Office Closings for Promise Keepers

c. 2000 Religion News Service

(UNDATED) Two years after Promise Keepers was forced to lay off much of its staff before a bailout allowed it to recall them, the men's evangelical organization is restructuring again.

The latest changes will result in the net elimination of about 30 positions from field offices and the ministry's Denver headquarters, said Steve Chavis, Promise Keepers' director of public affairs.

As of Jan. 15, the ministry had closed its field offices, eliminating 26 positions. By the end of February, an additional 30 positions _ ranging from communications to administration _ will be terminated in Denver.

About 25 new positions will be created under a restructuring plan, including 12 that will replace the terminated field-office jobs.

The field offices were in Dallas; Indianapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New York; Charlotte, N.C.; Washington; Denver; and Ontario, Calif.

Chavis said the moves reflect a desire to have a ``more effective'' ministry.

``If we're a movement, we're going to continue to find the best way to reach the most men in the most significant way and if that means restructuring in Denver, if that means ... centralizing the field ministries in Denver, then that's what we'll do,'' he said.

The ministry, which was founded in 1990, hopes to increase its work with other church-related groups in the cities where they hold rallies.

``As we move toward a great `city focus' in the days ahead, we are planning to work more closely with existing ministries in each conference site before, during and after our events,'' wrote Ed Barron, vice president of Promise Keepers' U.S. ministries, in a letter to supporters. ``Our plans include co-laboring with local church and para-church organizations and other ministry groups, especially to execute greater follow-through in terms of discipleship and training.''

The ministry once had staff levels of more than 300. It started 2000 with about 200 employees.

Chavis said the budget for 1999 was about $30 million and this year's is about the same. In previous years, the ministry's budget has been more than double that figure.

``Our finances are stable,'' he said.

The organization previously went through serious setbacks when it decided to stop charging registration fees for its rallies beginning in 1998. Those fees amounted to 72 percent of the ministry's income in 1996.

``We used to charge money and people would buy tickets and we were extremely healthy,'' Chavis said. ``Then we decided to work on donations and now we're like every other nonprofit organization _ stable and challenged.''

But he said the latest restructuring is not a sign that the end is near for Promise Keepers.

``Promise Keepers is here for the foreseeable future,'' he said.

Chavis said plans are continuing for rallies in 15 cities in 2000. Dates have been set for five locations: Portland, Ore., July 21-22; Louisville, Ky., July 28-29; Albuquerque, N.M., Aug. 18-19; Worcester, Mass., Aug. 25-26; Orlando, Fla., Oct. 20-21.

The other cities where rallies are planned are: Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; Denver; Atlanta; Baton Rouge, La.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Lynchburg, Va.; and Milwaukee, Wis.