- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2007

NCC cuts jobs, anticipates deficit

NEW YORK — The National Council of Churches, an ecumenical group with 35 Protestant and Orthodox denominational members, is cutting 14 staff positions.

The governing board of the New York-based group announced the staff cuts Sept. 27, as part of a reorganization that will include six new positions to streamline the group’s work.

Clare Chapman, acting chief executive of the NCC, said that the council faced a deficit of more than $1 million in the 2007 fiscal year and that the shortfall was covered by financial reserves.

The NCC said in a press release that it also expected a budget deficit in 2008. The NCC has been struggling off and on with financial problems for years. NCC receives its income from member donations, foundation grants and royalties.

Spokane Diocese pays into abuse trust

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane has made its first payment into a special bankruptcy trust that will be distributed to victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The diocese and its 82 parishes wired $11.7 million into the trust on Monday to meet an initial deadline. So far, the trust has received $44 million of the $48 million promised in a settlement with victims. The rest is due by October 2009.

The victims can expect to receive payments next month.

“Compensation to victims of sexual abuse is just one small step toward healing for the victims,” Bishop William Skylstad said in a press release announcing the payment. “I hope and pray that the entire community of Eastern Washington can continue to heal and reconcile.”

Bishop Skylstad is head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and steered the diocese into bankruptcy in late 2004 to deal with scores of claims of sex abuse.

The settlement reached earlier this year prohibited disclosure of the number of victims and how much each received, and some other details.

But the reorganization plan said victims will get from $15,000 to $1.5 million each, depending on the severity of the molestation or rape. A former U.S. attorney will hear claims and decide how much each person receives.

Also Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams approved paying lawyers about $8.3 million, the last major conflict in closing the case. The lawyers reached an agreement last month to avoid a court fight over fees.

Four other U.S. dioceses had sought bankruptcy protection in the face of clergy-abuse claims. They are San Diego; Davenport, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; and Tucson, Ariz.

Bakersfield trustees to mull ‘God’ motto

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A trustee in the Kern High School District wants to tack up posters bearing the motto “In God We Trust” in all of the district’s classrooms.

Trustee Chad Vegas, a pastor who founded the Bakersfield Christian church Sovereign Grace, said the posters were intended to inspire patriotism, not to promote religious beliefs.

In God We Trust America Inc., a nonprofit run by Bakersfield City Council member Jacquie Sullivan, planned to donate the posters, which the group believes will not violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

“There are those that are trying to remove God from our public life, and I do not think that is right,” said Miss Sullivan.

Miss Sullivan led a campaign to get the phrase “In God We Trust” posted in Bakersfield’s City Council chambers in 2002, and in 26 other cities in the state. But if the Kern High School District approves the measure, it will be the first in the state to do so, he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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