Sep. 7, 2022

COVID-19 pandemic impacted income and ways of working at the WCC

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 resulted in reduced income for the World Council of Churches (WCC) and led to an adaptation in ways of working, the 11th Assembly of the WCC has heard.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 resulted in reduced income for the World Council of Churches (WCC) and led to an adaptation in ways of working, the 11th Assembly of the WCC has heard.
https://www.oikoumene.org/news/covid-19-pandemic-impacted-income-and-ways-of-working-at-the-wcc
6 September 2022, Karlsruhe, Germany: Assembly delegates gather for a business plenary session at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September, under the theme "Christ's Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity." Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
07 September 2022

The WCC Finance Committee presented its report during the 31 August to 8 September Assembly hosted in the German city of Karlsruhe.

"When the assembly met in Busan in 2013, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, there was concern over both the decreasing levels of income, and the loans taken to refinance the pension fund," the report said.

"However, the launch of the WCC strategic plan by central committee in 2014 marked the start of a new cycle, during which a remarkable level of stability in contributions had been attained."

Between 2015 and 2019, an annual average of CHF 17.7 million in contributions assured programmatic work, including the general secretariat’s services, governance meetings and communication.

The assembly finance committee expressed gratitude to the member churches, ecumenical partners, and others for solidarity noting other support offered in many ways.

"Certainly, the impact of the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021 has resulted in reduced income, but also an adaptation in ways of working, including an increased number of webinars and other online productions," said the report.

Challenging years

The assembly finance committee appreciated the WCC’s work during the challenging years, and that the WCC adjusted expenditure plans faithfully according to income each year.

No programme deficits were incurred throughout the entire cycle of work.

"Further, the work guided by the steering committee for the Green Village project has progressed. As a result of the development and land sales, the pension fund loans of CHF 24 million were reduced by half in 2020 and will be reimbursed entirely this year," said the report.

For the forthcoming eight-year strategic period, with its two planning periods of four years, the AFC noted that the WCC lists over 30 projects and transversals in its current structure.

The executive committee urged discretion in allocating budgets working with two particular sources of income, on the one hand, the membership contributions, and on the other, the programme contributions, where the partner trusts the WCC designate the allocation.

Comparing the total contributions in these categories in 2021 with 2014, a decrease of CHF 2.4 million was noted, from CHF 11.4 million to CHF 9 million (21%).

The continued Swiss franc strengthening compared to other currencies factored into the decrease.

Due to report observations, the assembly finance committee considers it urgent that the assembly set guidance for the strategy and plans to implement the adaptations required for the following work cycle.