Board leaves programs intact for 2004-05 Synod budget

By Joe Isenhower Jr.
On the surface, the 2004-05 spending plan of $84.8 million the Synod’s Board of Directors adopted for national ministries at its May 20-22 meeting in St. Louis appears to be good news, compared with the $77.5 million 2003-04 spending plan. But, in this case, appearances would be deceiving.
That’s because the new spending plan includes almost $9.6 million for items not in this year’s plan but necessary for 2004-2005 — the triennial Synod convention and National LCMS Youth Gathering, and for possible transition costs for elected officers.
Subtract that amount, and what’s left for next year is $75.2 million, or $2.3 million less than for 2003-04. The 2003-04 budget reflected a budget cut of $11 million from the previous year’s budget.
Continuing a growing trend over the years, projected remittances from the 35 Synod districts to the national Synod for the upcoming budget are down by $1.35 million.
But Dr. Thomas Kuchta, the Synod’s vice president–finance/treasurer and interim chief administrative officer, told the Board that no programs would have to be cut from Synod boards and commissions, and that the budget does include additional funds for missions and higher education.  That includes additions of:

  • $500,000 for the Board for Mission Services, to add missionaries and office staff to implement the Ablaze! initiative to reach 100 million people with the Gospel by 2017;

  • $250,000 for subsidy to the Synod’s two seminaries; and

  • $750,000 in subsidy for the 10 schools of the Concordia University System.

Dr. Robert Roegner, executive director of LCMS World Mission, thanked the Board for the increase for Ablaze! and said this was the first such increase for missions
since 1990.
“We were able to add to these ministries just by sharpening the pencils,” Kuchta told the Board.  “Every board and commission worked with us to drill down every number in the budget, on every line item.  They did an excellent job of it.”
Kuchta said that the $23 million in undesignated funds for the 2004-05 budget is $20 million less than the Synod executives indicated their boards would need to provide “optimal services.”  The Synod’s budget year runs July 1 to June 30.
After adopting the spending plan and a $1.1 million capital budget, the Board passed a resolution commending Kuchta and his staff “for doing an outstanding job under difficult circumstances in presenting to the Board a balanced budget for approval.”
Within the past year, the Board has looked at a number of approaches for increased funding of national ministries, but is not recommending any of them to this year’s Synod convention.
However, the Board is providing each LCMS congregation with a 25-minute video explaining the funding dilemma of steady decreases in unrestricted funds for national ministries.  Intended for use in Bible classes on July 11 (during the Synod convention), the video is planned for mailing in late June to presidents of all congregations.  An accompanying survey is being sent for those who see the video to complete and return to the Synod’s International Center.

Plans also call for mailing the video in mid-June to all the 2004 convention delegates.

In other business, the Board appointed members to three Synod boards.
Ten were appointed to the Board of Managers–Worker Benefit Plans.  The six incumbents reappointed are Dr. LuJuana Butts, Tuckahoe, N.Y.; Richard Beumer, St. Louis; F. Mark Kuhlmann, St. Louis; Lyle Meyer, Carlsbad, Calif.; Kenneth Willis, Brookfield, Wis.; and Joel Wilson, Weston, Conn.  Newly appointed are Rev. Ronald Carnicom, Great Bend, N.D.; Rev. Bill Heine, Sheridan, Wyo.; Renate Tomesch, Fox Point, Wis.; and Stan Wirth, Beatrice, Neb.
No incumbents were reappointed to the Board for Communication Services (BCS) or the Board for Human Care Ministries (BHCM).
Five new members appointed to the BCS are Rev. Joel Brondos, Fort Wayne; Rev. Kevin Vogts, Dakota Dunes, S.D.; Ernest Garbe, Dietrich, Ill.; Donna Raedeke, St. Louis; and Mollie Ziegler, Washington, D.C.
The BHC also has five new appointed members.  They are Rev. David Fischer, Salt Lake City; Rev. Tim May, Milwaukee; Peggy Beyer, Daykin, Neb.; John Edson, Plymouth, Minn.; and Stan Veit, Fort Wayne.

Posted May 28, 2004

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