Alban Institute, a resource for mainline institutions, to shutter


albanBy Sarah Pulliam Bailey

(RNS) As mainline Protestant denominations continue decades of decline, one of the main institutions helping educate its leaders announced Wednesday (March 19) that it will shut its doors.

Since it was founded four decades ago, the Virginia-based Alban Institute has guided mostly mainline congregations through consulting and publishing. Its founder and former president, the Rev. Loren Mead, became well-known for his speaking and writing about the future of U.S. denominations and was one of the first to predict denominational decline.

“When I started as a parish pastor, I found there wasn’t much help or continuing education,” said Mead, a retired Episcopal priest. “I am glad I have been able to contribute to the church, but I have not been able to solve its turnaround.”

Many mainline churches looked to Alban to provide literature and consultants for maintaining their institutional life, on everything from finding a new pastor to strategies for growth and financial health.

But as more publishers and consultants got into the business that Alban paved the way for, the institution found it difficult to continue its niche. Like other nonprofits during the recent recession, it also lost revenue.

“The Alban Institute went through the great recession just like everyone else,” said Jim Wind, who retired as president of Alban earlier this year. “The market got tougher to thrive in.”