Promise Keepers (PK) on February 18 told its 345 full-time staffers they would no longer be paid after March 31, the result of a financial crisis precipitated by the move from a fee-based income for men's meetings to donor contributions.

However, the 19 PK conferences planned for this year remain scheduled. Last fall, the PK board of directors unanimously supported founder Bill McCartney's call for removing the $60 admission fee for stadium events. The fees had provided 72 percent of the organization's income.

McCartney issued a challenge on February 19 for churches to support the ministry. "Now, as the fees to all events are removed, it is time for churches to assist us in our mission to men."

Refuting a Detroit Free Press report, McCartney told CT that he did not say "it was the will of God" for every church in the country to donate $1,000 to PK. "I do believe the churches need to recognize that God's hand is on this ministry," McCartney told CT. "We're calling the churches to join together. Wherever that happens, God moves." McCartney told CT the news does not sound the death knell for PK. Donations covered the entire $9 million cost of last October's Stand in the Gap gathering in Washington, D.C. (CT, Nov. 17, 1997, p. 62).

Since January, seven regional pastors' conferences have brought in $1 million in pledges from more than 1,000 churches. On average, it costs $1 million to stage one PK stadium event, according to public affairs director Stephen Ruppe. He says PK expected a higher amount in donations to be sent. Ruppe says PK has not filed for bankruptcy. The organization owns its Denver office headquarters, has no outstanding loans, and "is on a normal business cycle with vendors."

PK will restaff as the ministry's income from donations increases, according to Ruppe. A few paid staff have agreed to work as volunteers for an unspecified amount of time.

Among those rallying to support PK is Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, who says he has sent letters to thousands of pastors and laymen asking them to "help our brothers in need" in PK.

"There's been a lot of support for PK," says Paul Nelson, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. "The news of this change will bring out supporters."

PK cut its budget and staff by 20 percent last summer (CT, Sept. 1, 1997, p. 90). In November, McCartney pledged there would be no further reductions. He said at the time, "If one can't get paid, then no one will be paid."

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