What happens when God goes broke?

By Lynette Sanchez May 19, 2009 Published in the April 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

His son might be able to walk on water, but even God is having trouble staying afloat in this economy. At least that’s the case at downtown’s First Unitarian Church, where, facing a $185,000 budget deficit, the doors may have to be shuttered for the month of July, when attendance is at its lowest.

Closure would mean no July pay for the staff of thirty-five—but it would keep them employed through the end of the year. Which is more than other churches can say. Cedar Mill Bible Church in Beaverton laid off nine staff members in November, and Greater Portland Bible Church, in Southwest Portland, has laid off ten of its twenty-eight staff members since August in order to stay open. “One guy we laid off was here for twenty-two years,” says Todd Morrison,
Greater Portland Bible Church’s lead pastor. Catholic parishes around town also are cutting staff hours in order to keep things running.

Some people, though, see the recession as a kind of blessing. Maury Blondheim, an elder for a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Troutdale, says that thanks to layoffs he has a bigger pool of volunteer door-to-door missionaries to send a’knocking during the day. Plus, more people are at home to receive the good Word—a silver lining that might just produce a little silver of its own.

Filed under