The United Methodist Publishing House(UMPH) announced last week that they will be laying off about 70 of its 296 employees in June due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The publishing house has gradually downsized over the years despite the long history established in 1789 laying off staff members, however, the impact of coronavirus on its revenue has led to the difficult decision. 

The Rev. Brian Milford, president, and publisher said that UMPH's sales levels are 40% to 50% lower than the same period last year. In addition to pre-COVID-19 trends, the actual impact on church attendance since mid-March by the pandemic and the unpredictable rates of congregations' return has made this result together. 

"The planned staff reduction will begin mid-June and is a wrenching decision that I deeply regret," said Milford. He noted that UMPH is completely self-funding through its operations and receives no grants from the UMC's general funds.

"For 230 years UMPH has only spent what it was able to earn through the publishing and sale of resources including Sunday school curriculum, worship resources, small group studies, Bibles and other products," said Milford. "UMPH is a ministry that can only continue to serve the church by practicing vigilant and prudent stewardship," the president noted. 

Those who would lose their job in June will receive their full salary until then because of the federal Paycheck Protection Program and some assistance under the CARES Act. However, all sectors of the United States are hurting because of the effects of revenue decline due to the coronavirus.

According to UM news, more than 30.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March, a level of job loss not seen since the Great Depression.

"Our mission is to deliver tools for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. UMPH has often changed as it has adapted to major shifts in the life of our churches and the larger society - including fluctuating economic conditions," Milford told UM news.

"Amid the global pandemic, we are once again making adjustments to assure that we fulfill our responsibilities and remain fully self-supporting," He added.