There have been two events announced this week that have come as something of a personal shock to me.
1) The Kansas City School District made the decision on Wednesday night to eliminate 29 of it’s 61 schools. That’s half of it’s schools, closed for good at the end of the school year. They are laying off 700 out of 3,000 employees, 285 of which are teachers. Being as both my father and my father in law are in the teaching profession (both and very small schools I might add) this kind of news is almost terrifying to me.
2) Franconia Mennonite Conference in Pennsylvania announced this week that they are letting go all of their conference staff, except for one conference minister and possibly a support staff or two. That’s really something when you consider that they have (had) on the order of 17 staff. Possibly the most damning statement in the article in the online version of The Mennonite was the quote from their conference moderator R. Blaine Detwiler, “The conference still functions as if it were doing things for congregations.” The clear implication of that statement is that even with 17 staff, the conference was doing nothing for their churches. In recent years I have grown to be a strong supporter of conferences and denominations. This news, too, is profoundly shaking to me.
There are some in the national media and in national politics that are trying to say that yes, things are getting better. Yes, the stock market is up from it’s low of 6,000 points to about 10,000, regaining half of what it lost a year ago. Yes, the financial industry has stepped back from the brink of world-wide collapse.
But from where I sit, things are still going down hill, and fast.