In drastic budget-balancing moves, the financially troubled Washington Cathedral has stopped all its building programs and will not seek a full-time replacement for Dean Francis Sayre when he retires next in January.

Instead, Bishop John T. Walker, 52, who is to be formally installed Saturday as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, will be dean of the cathedral and bishop of the diocese.

Bishop Walker said he will hold both posts for at least five years in order "to take a long look at the future."

The cathedral's construction budget is separate from its operating and budget will be examined on a monthly basis to see if contributions are sizable enough to resume operations. The only work now being done is that of the seven stone carvers.

"We have to keep them together. If we ever lost them, we'd never get them back again," a cathedral spokeswoman said.

The carvers, some of whom were brought here from Europe, are among the last member of a dying craft in a world that no longer builds gothic cathedrais.

Enough stone work already is endowed to keep the artisans busy for several months, the spokeswoman said.

Under Dean Sayre's 25-year leadership, the cathedral developed a national image although it always has been the chief church in the Washington Episcopal Diocese and the "seats," or ecclesiastical headquarters, of the bishop of Washington.

Thus Bishop Walker's plan to assume the deanshop is entirely within church tradition. In addition, he believes the move will provide the opportunity to give a more local flavor to the catherdral program and concerns.

"When I was elected (bishop) a year ago. I began thinking of the directions in which I wanted to move, and I had a sense that the national stature and the national role of the catherdral tended to down play its role in the diocese," he said.

The cathedral and the diocese thus far have operated almost independently of each other. "There has been som overlapping," of functions. Bishop Walker said. He predicted the new araangement would provide several ways to save money.

Bishop Walker said he already is booked into the catherdral for six preaching dates next year that will coincide with major Christian festivals.

He has appointed Canon Charles A. Perry, currently executive officer of the diocese, as provost of the catherdral, a post that will entail most of the day-to-day administration as well as liturgical and preaching functions.

The cathedral, marking its 70th birthday with an open house next month, went heavily into debt last year, in part because of an effort to complete the nave and the west facade in the time for a Bicentennial visit by Queen Elizabeth II.

The construction program was cut back last spring, and sharp cuts, were made among the cathedral's operating personnel, from cannon to choirboy.

The clouds of financial gloom have disclosed a silver lining to Bishop Walker. The retrenchment forces him to do what he wanted to do anyway, he said.

"I expect there will be a lot of changes as we look to the future, and I'd like to take a look at the total ministry at the cathedral and the diocese. . . Harnessing the resources of Mount St. Alban, site of both the cathedral and diocesan offices, offers opportunities for service to the church and community envisioned by the founders of the cathedral," he said.