Promise Keepers, the Christian ministry that rallied thousands of men in Washington last year and millions this decade, is laying off all 345 paid employees worldwide and will rely on volunteers.
The staffers, whose salaries will end March 31, will return if donations allow, the group said Wednesday.The Denver-based ministry has attracted more than 2.7 million men to its events across the country since its founding in 1990.
At the "Stand in the Gap" rally in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, founder Bill McCartney said the group no longer would charge admission - which had ranged as high as $60 - to its events.
The admission fees had provided 72 percent of the group's income and the change has hurt the organization's finances.
"We've known it's been coming," said Stephen Ruppe, director of public affairs. "We made some adjustments in July. We knew January and February are difficult months of the year for donations. Did we anticipate we couldn't pay the staff after March? No."
But he said the group's operations will continue as before. Promise Keepers is to announce this week the dates and locations for this year's 19 conferences.
Promise Keepers urges men to take more responsibility as husbands and fathers.