Nashville, April 30, 2020 – The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) reported today that a combination of pre-COVID-19 trends, the impact of the pandemic on church attendance since mid-March, and the unpredictable rates at which congregations will return to regular activities for the remainder of 2020, will result in sales levels that are 40% to 50% lower than the same period last year.
“Taken together, these factors require that UMPH make major adjustments in spending now, including a reduction in force starting June 13 affecting approximately 70 of the Publishing House’s 296 workforce,” said Rev. Brian Milford, President & Publisher.
“The planned staff reduction will begin mid-June and is a wrenching decision that I deeply regret” said Milford. He noted that UMPH is completely self-funding through its own operations and receives no grants from the UMC’s general funds.
“For 230 years UMPH has only spent what it was able to earn through the publishing and sale of resources including Sunday school curriculum, worship resources, small group studies, Bibles, and other products,” said Milford. He explained that over the decades UMPH has contributed nearly $50M toward UMC clergy pensions and millions more for products that were needed for the Church’s outreach and mission but could not earn sufficient revenue to pay the cost of their development. “UMPH is a ministry that can only continue to serve the Church by practicing vigilant and prudent stewardship,” he added.
“The Board of Directors and staff are saddened by the hardship and heartbreak for those who through no fault of their own are affected by the planned staffing cutbacks,” said Milford. Persons whose jobs will end June 13 will receive their full salary and benefits through that date because of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. To help with their transition they will also receive severance payments from UMPH and additional benefits under the CARES Act for which they qualify.