Church Publishing to cut 40 percent of its workforce, close Denver office

November 5, 2010

Church Publishing Inc. (CPI) plans to reduce its workforce by 40 percent and close its Denver, Colorado, office, beginning Dec. 31.

CPI is an affiliate company of the Church Pension Group (CPG), which manages the Episcopal Church Pension Fund for lay and clergy employees, among other operations. The Nov. 3 announcement was made in a letter to all CPG employees, said Dennis Sullivan, CPG president, in a Nov. 5 telephone interview with ENS.

In the letter, Sullivan said that the changes to CPI are in response to the economics of the publishing industry and do not reflect the financial strength of CPG, nor the fund, "both of which remain in solid financial condition."

CPI was launched as the Church Hymnal Corp. in 1918 with the production of The Hymnal 1918, and is the official publisher of worship materials and resources for the Episcopal Church, including the Book of Common Prayer.

"Hymnals and prayer books remain staples," said Davis Perkins, CPI's publisher, Nov. 5.

The reductions, he said, represent CPI's increased focus on the Episcopal Church, rather than the ecumenical market.

The 40 percent reduction in workforce represents 16 positions, and includes vacant and contract positions, reducing the total number of positions from 38 to 22. Employees working in the Denver office will be given the option to relocate to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where CPI's affiliate Morehouse Church Supplies is located, or to work from home, Perkins added.

In May 2009, CPI announced that it would accelerate the release of electronic products, and in response to the declining market for trade-books, suspend publication of general audience books its imprint Seabury Books, implementing a 30 percent staff reduction.

"Eighteen months later, all segments of the publishing industry remain severely depressed, and publishers across the country are reexamining the organization, product lines, and staffing of their businesses," said Sullivan in the letter.

Perkins said this year's net revenue is between $6-7 million, down from $8 million in 2009.

Unrelated to CPI's announcement, but partially in response to the changing economics of the publishing industry, the Episcopal Books and Resources retail bookstore at the Church Center in New York City and its online store were not included in the 2011 budget adopted recently by Executive Council. Both the store and the online store will be closed by Dec. 31.