One of the largest state conventions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention has reduced its staff to such a level that it’s moving to office space in a local church.
Thomas Hammond, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told the organization’s Executive Committee Dec. 1 they will vacate the five-story, 175,000-square-foot building located in Gwinnett County, Ga., in the next two months. Earlier attempts to sell the 40-acre property ran into zoning problems.
As of last June, the state Baptist convention reported about 33 people still working in the facility that was built in 2006 for 300 staff members.
Georgia ranks third among all U.S. states for number of Southern Baptist churches, with more than 3,300 — trailing only Texas and North Carolina. Yet the state convention has been shrinking for several years, due to declining gifts from churches that have prompted a series of staff layoffs and financial rescue plans.
A message to the Executive Committee, written in the form of a news release, said the mission board “is moving out of its five-story executive office building into a smaller and more efficient space. The Mission Board has secured a letter of intent from a corporation that wants to lease the building at 6405 Sugarloaf Parkway beginning in the next two months.”
Accounting and human resources staff will move to an office in Suwanee, Ga. — about 10 miles away — and “the remainder of the Duluth-based staff will move into a local church.” No information was given about the name of that church or how many employees would work there.
“Projections are that the Mission Board could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on utilities, maintenance and operational costs by moving out of the Sugarloaf building,” the notice explained.
“It makes sense to right-size our office space,” Hammond is quoted as saying. “It’s the prudent thing to do. Especially with having much of our staff already serving out of the office and in the field.”
He added: “We’re excited about what this means for the future work of Georgia Baptists and how many new doors these resources will open for evangelism, church planting and ministry.”
According to the Georgia Christian Index, undesignated budget giving from churches to the state convention has fallen from $49.5 million in 2007 to a budgeted $34.3 million this year.