Board of Directors OKs Thrivent grant uses, more

By Joe Isenhower Jr.

In preparation for setting the 2007-08 national Synod budget at its May meeting, the LCMS Board of Directors last month endorsed proposals of Synod boards, commissions, and other offices to include in their budget requests for 2007-08 a total of $1,425,000 in funding from the most recent Thrivent Financial for Lutherans churchwide grant to the Synod.

In another budget-related action, the Board approved an increase in the salary budget for the corporate Synod of 4 percent in the upcoming fiscal year.

Among other actions during its Feb. 1-3 meeting in St. Louis, the Board of Directors added its own approval to the Board for University Education’s authorization to move ahead with capital projects for the Concordia Universities at Seward, Neb., and Irvine, Calif., and adopted a statement in general support of the report of the Synod’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission — a statement later also adopted by the Council of Presidents.

The Board also heard progress reports on the Synod’s “Fan Into Flame” initiative and Concordia Historical Institute’s drive to upgrade its facilities in Clayton and establish a museum at the Synod’s International Center.  The new  president and CEO of Concordia Publishing House also told the Board about recent progress in a number of areas.

Block grant

The Thrivent Block Grant funds will be used for 17 projects proposed by the program board and commission executives.

Major projects include:

  • $300,000 for study and consensus among various groups in the Synod concerning the work and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance.

  • $238,800 for the “What a Way” initiative to recruit and retain church workers; and

  • $233,535 for the Board for Communication Services to produce two special editions of The Lutheran Witness to highlight specific Synod ministries.

The Board approved the BUE’s authorization for Concordia University Nebraska, Seward, to finance construction of a Health, Human Performance, and Athletic Center there, for a total cost of no more than $34 million.

The action also gives Concordia, Seward, approval to use tax-exempt bond financing to cover the construction costs.

For Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., the Board approved the BUE’s authorization for the university’s receiving as a gift the property of Arrowhead Lutheran Camp, located near Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

The action lays out conditions for Concordia, Irvine, to receive the gift, including that it take out a low-cost $500,000 loan for camp improvements, and receive approval from its bank for that amount and the camp’s $625,000 of indebtedness.  A final stipulation is that the university has the right to sell part or all of the property “at any time.”

Joint statement

The joint statement of the Board and the Council of Presidents about the report of the Funding the Mission task force grew out of discussions between the two groups at a meeting together in November.

As the Board discussed the proposed statement last month, several members noted that a number of suggestions for changes to the report had been made during that joint meeting.  The Board then approved “in general” the joint statement.

The statement points out that the Board and Council “mutually thank and praise God for the work” of the task force and that the task force report “contains recommendations which we pray will lead to prayerful discussion and decision-making in ‘Funding the Mission.’ ”

It also asks permission “to share with you our concern that action be taken at the 2007 synodical convention that is definitive and directive.”

The statement then speaks to three things “we mutually affirm” — the “mission focus of the task force report,” its “report on Christian stewardship,” and the commitment “to work toward “harmony in the LCMS.”

The two final paragraphs of the statement say that the two groups “agree on the urgency of action and are grateful for steps that are already being taken to address the [task force’s] recommendations …” and “we mutually pray that the Lord of the church … will guide and direct us and all the Synod in partnership in His service.”

The Council of Presidents, meeting in St. Louis later last month, unanimously approved the statement.  (See related story.)

In his update on the “Fan Into Flame” campaign to generate $100 million in gifts by 2010 to support Gospel outreach at the congregational, district, national, and international levels, Leonard Fiedler, senior vice president for ministry resources development with the LCMS Foundation, told the Board that he is convinced the campaign will “retool the way our members witness to their faith.”

He said, as of Jan. 12, $13.2 million had been pledged for the campaign.

With two districts — Texas and South Wisconsin — involved in the “Fan Into Flame” campaign’s pilot phase, Fiedler said that eight other districts have made commitments to start their campaigns later this year.

CHI, CPH reports

Dr. Martin Noland, director of Concordia Historical Institute (CHI), said that as of early January, more than $500,000 has been raised toward a goal of $2 million in the institute’s $2 million funding campaign.  The funds are to be split evenly for building improvements at its facilities on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and to establish a Synod history museum at the International Center.

Of the funds already raised, Noland indicated that $250,000 is a matching grant, and that $200,000 came from a single donor.

He said that major donors would be contacted in the next few months, that a letter appeal will soon be sent to congregations, and that foundations are being contacted.

Noland said that, depending on the success of the fund appeal, renovations to the CHI building and construction of the museum in the Synod office building could begin as early as late August of this year.

Bruce Kintz, president and CEO of Concordia Publishing House, described its success in a number of areas — including customer service, in-house efficiencies, and improved sales.

“If you haven’t been to CPH lately, you haven’t been there,” Kintz said.

He noted that CPH’s annual financial gifts back to the national Synod increased from $150,000 for 2002 to $299,000 for 2005, with the “hope for a substantially larger gift for 2006.”

Kintz also spoke of CPH sharing its profits with the recent gift of $100 to each LCMS congregation and school.  (<A class="" href="/pages/intern

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