Chesapeake Energy is cutting symbols of its past corporate largesse — including laying off its three staff chaplains and closing an employee garden that grows vegetables for a local food pantry.
The garden's two full-time employees — including a beekeeper — were also laid off this week, according to multiple former and current Chesapeake employees, who spoke under the condition of anonymity because they feared being fired for talking to the media, or losing severance packages after being laid off.
The company has not responded to requests for comment on the garden closing or chaplain layoffs.
Multiple sources told The Oklahoman that Chesapeake has laid off its three staff chaplains. The Chesapeake email accounts for all three pastors that the company employed up until recently have been deactivated.
The company moved to hire its first full-time chaplain, Robin Wood, two years ago after he emailed former CEO Aubrey McClendon about the idea, the company told The Oklahoman in 2011.
Lorrie Jacobs, vice president of compensation and benefits at Chesapeake, described Wood's hiring at the time as “kind of a God thing.”
Jacobs email account was also deactivated this week.
By 2012, Chesapeake employed three full-time chaplains who provided counseling to employees and occasionally presided over weddings and funerals, according to newspaper archives.
Sources told The Oklahoman two full-time employees who staffed Chesapeake's employee garden also were laid off.
The Chesapeake garden takes up an entire city block off NW 63 Street between Lee and Shartel. Employees are able to use the garden's raised beds to grow flowers and vegetables. The spot is also home to a colony of bees.
On Thursday morning, the garden, encircled by a high chain link fence and accessible only by employees, was empty. The windows of the garden office were dark.
For the past several years, Chesapeake employees have donated fresh produce harvested from the garden to nearby BritVil Community Food Pantry.