Friday, October 3, 2014

Episcopal Statement Issued from the Board of General Superintendents Concerning NPH

Today, Nazarene Communications Network published the following "Pastoral Letter" from the Board of General Superintendents.  This is a follow-up from the previous article posted on this blog.

To the Global Nazarene Family:

We are deeply saddened to inform you of the news that Nazarene Publishing House (NPH) will cease their current operations as of 1 December 2014. This date was announced to comply with the WARN Act (The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act), a Federal law in the United States. This act offers protection to workers, their families, and communities by providing notice 60 days in advance of large layoffs. Steps have been taken at this time to ensure that all NPH employees will retain their positions through 1 December 2014, with a severance package if they remain as employees through that date.

Hundreds of our Nazarene family members have sent letters and emails expressing concern and asking questions about what has happened and what is being done to deal with this crisis. This is evidence of how much you love your church and care about her mission. We wish there was a way to answer every inquiry personally. However, this letter is an attempt to address the church corporately.

There is much that could be said about how we have come to this point – certainly more than any letter can contain. But we feel it is important to try.

NPH has served its mission and our denomination faithfully and well for 102 years. It has provided excellent holiness literature, music, and resources. Hundreds of godly men and women have served the church through NPH. We owe them a debt of gratitude from the entire denomination. Words are not adequate to express our heartfelt thanks for their selfless, Christ-honoring service.

As a business, NPH has experienced many profitable years. A great deal of the income that has been generated through NPH has been poured back into the mission and work of the church, even beyond the walls of the House. Recent years have been more financially difficult. Due to shifting cultural circumstances including changes in the church, NPH has found itself having to adapt to new paradigms in order to maintain financial stability and sustainability. Net profits have decreased dramatically over the last decade to the point that the company was forced to draw heavily on financial reserves to stay afloat. The economic downturn of 2008 only deepened the pending crisis.

In 2012, with the election of a new leader for NPH by the General Board, plans were laid for yet another change in paradigm for NPH, including the acquisition of a new business unit for NPH. This was done with the sincere hope that NPH would be set on new trajectory and ultimately be stronger. Simply put: it did not work. It was a miscalculation on many levels. While it was obvious that the business model for NPH needed to change, we now know that these decisions likely hastened the crisis.

Over the course of the past year, many steps have been taken to try and rescue what we could. We have worked within our denominational structures, including the elected NPH Board of Directors, the Church of the Nazarene General Board Executive Committee, and many other individuals and entities to bring about the best resolutions possible. All of these individuals have worked faithfully and diligently navigating these difficult waters.

We have all done our best to act within the structures of our polity and to act on the information we had at any given moment. But we also acknowledge, that in the process, mistakes have been made, some systems have been inadequate, and even our best attempts for good and godly decisions have fallen short. This includes some actions of the Board of General Superintendents. We fully own and regret the ways we have contributed to the problems at hand.

In the midst of everything that has happened, perhaps our biggest regret is the breach of trust felt by many. We apologize for what has appeared as poor decisions, a failure to act sooner, or even the appearance of wrongdoing. There have been many times when the complexities of legal, financial, business, and polity issues prevented us from speaking widely about the issues at hand. We now realize our communication could have been and should have been much better. We ask your forgiveness for this.

Despite many opinions to the contrary, it is important to say, we do not believe anyone has made intentional decisions to hurt the church. Additionally, no World Evangelism Funds have been used to support the losses of NPH.

This has been a very difficult year for all involved. One member of our Board recently reflected, "This is the most difficult, complex crisis I have faced in all my years as a general superintendent." Hundreds of hours have been spent in conversation and prayer. There have been many times that we found ourselves at such a loss in knowing what to do next that we fell on our faces before God, crying out for His wisdom and discernment. God has been faithful to help.

We believe that God is even now at work to help us forge a new path.

The Board of General Superintendents took action several weeks ago to declare NPH in crisis. Since that time, a new crisis management team of advisors has been formed and is beginning the careful work of closing down the current operations of NPH.

Furthermore, in consultation with the General Board Executive Committee, we are also appointing a task force to help envision how holiness material will be provided for the future. While the current business model of NPH will be closing, this new way will continue to provide the necessary resources to educate and equip our pastors and laypersons around the world. NPH maintains resources that will help give birth to a new, dynamic publishing model.

More information regarding this new model will be forthcoming. In the meantime, several months of Sunday school curriculum is already prepared and will be available to our churches. NPH is in the process of shipping the December-January-February curriculum. They are also accepting orders, and working through the details with the intent to ship the March-April-May curriculum during the month of December.

We covet your continued prayers as we move forward. Most of all, we ask you to support the current NPH employees through prayer and any other way possible. They are our friends and loved ones.

We realize this letter will not answer every question and address every concern. Please receive it with the humility in which it is intended.

May God help us as we forge a new path to provide Wesleyan-Holiness resources that support our mission to make Christlike disciples in the nations.

Grace and peace,

--Board of General Superintendents

The letter, above, was originally published, here.  Let us be in prayer for the employees of NPH, for the future of NPH & for the bgs.

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