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All staff to go as financial woes close Jubilee Centre

09 September 2022

THE Jubilee Centre is closing, and all its staff are to be made redundant, owing to deteriorating finances, its director, Tim Thorlby, and the chairman of the trustees, Dr Ralph Lee, announced on Tuesday.

Founded in 1983, by Dr Michael Schluter, the think tank promotes a “biblical vision” for business and society. Dr Schluter is to take over as chairman and continue its work primarily online from 1 November.

Plans are being made for an online resource centre, library, and training hub for those interested in biblically based social reform. In November, the new trustees will email everyone on the current supporters’ mailing list to provide an update on the emerging plans and how you can support them.

In a blog post on the website, its director and chairman write: “Unfortunately, the Centre’s financial fortunes have continued to deteriorate. The Jubilee Centre’s Trustees have therefore, reluctantly, come to the decision that the Centre is no longer financially sustainable in its current form.

“All of the Centre’s current day-to-day operations will therefore cease by 31st October and the entire team are being made redundant. This is clearly a significant and sad day for the Jubilee Centre.”

Current donors are asked to cancel any existing standing orders or direct debits. Its bank account is due to close in early October. “We are looking to wind up the current finances of the charity, settle all remaining liabilities and ensure that the transition to the new Trustees can be as clean and simple as possible.”

In March, shortly after Mr Thorlby was appointed as its new director, he had spoken of a period of “renewal”, and announced the launch of several “learning labs” that would bring together large and small enterprises, as well as theologians and churches, to discuss and pilot new ideas (News, 11 March).

The closure was no reflection on the work or output of the Centre, they write, including its learning labs, theological work, and “ground-breaking research” over the past year. “We are proud of our team.”

Their announcement also says that, “like many charities, our network has perhaps not been as vigorously renewed in the past as it should have been.” Donations had been falling for many years, and “such long-term trends are difficult to turn around in a short space of time. In the last year, we had begun to grow the network again and find new donors, but we have just run out of time. Finding support from third-party trusts and foundations has also proved challenging.”

The growing cost-of-living crisis had also “stiffened the headwinds” that the charity faced. “For a range of reasons, we have therefore found that we are losing donors faster than we can add new ones.” Huge efforts had been made to cut operating costs by 25 per cent, but income continued to fall at an unsustainable rate, the announcement says.

Dr Lee said on Tuesday: “The trustees deeply regret having to make this decision. However, we rejoice in the Jubilee Centre’s influence over many decades, and the legacy that it leaves. . . Our prayers and good wishes also go with Michael as he develops the next steps for the charity in its virtual format.”

Mr Thorlby said: “Michael’s insights on biblical economics have inspired me for decades. And the team’s commitment to excellence and creativity has ensured that we have undertaken some pioneering work this year, notwithstanding the ever-present financial challenges.”

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