Billy Graham's organization is laying off 10 percent of its staff

The Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is laying off 55 employees — about 10 percent of its staff.

"With the economy the way it is, we need to make sure we're tightening our belts as much as we can," Ken Barun, the ministry's senior vice president for communications. "We want to be good stewards of the resources our donors have been kind enough to give us."

The layoffs and other cost-cutting should slice the annual budget by about 15 percent, Barun said, reducing it to $84 million.

Barun said contributions have been "relatively flat," and the BGEA has seen a downturn in revenues from sales of products such as books and returns on endowment funds.

But he said the sour economy was only part of the reason for the cutbacks. A year and a half ago, he said, CEO Franklin Graham asked his staff to look at ways to reduce costs and become more efficient without reducing ministry efforts.

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