By Joe Isenhower Jr.
The Synod Board of Directors adopted a number of resolutions at its Feb. 19-20 meeting in St. Louis to advance the work of the national church body, as well as LCMS congregations, districts, and schools.
At that meeting, the Board began laying groundwork for the Synod’s 2009-10 budget that starts July 1 with a decision to freeze salaries of the 525-some national-Synod employees worldwide, holding those salaries at the current fiscal year’s level.
“Like the rest of the nation, the LCMS national office is confronted with the financial realities of the economic downturn,” Ronald P. Schultz, the Synod’s chief administrative officer, told Reporter after the Board meeting.
He added that while the Synod has been able to keep expenditures for the current 2008-09 fiscal year below budget by nearly $620,000 through the end of January, its revenues are lagging behind by almost $4.9 million.
In the action freezing employees’ salaries for the coming fiscal year, the Board also resolved to eliminate the bonus budget for the year. It adjusted salary range mid-points upward by 2.54 percent, although that adjustment does not affect current employees’ rates of pay.
Schultz, who also serves as interim director of Human Resources for the Synod, sent a memo to national Synod employees on Feb. 23 informing them of the Board’s salary decision.
“The Board understands the vital role the national office employees play in supporting the congregations, schools, and districts of [the Synod], Schultz wrote in that memo. “Your commitment to that ministry does not go unnoticed and is very much appreciated. … From the Board of Directors, a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ for the work you do and the service you provide for the sake of the Gospel.”
Schultz also said that the LCMS accounting staff projects an approximate $1.2 million reduction in revenue for fiscal year 2010. That represents a combination of anticipated reductions in the following areas:
He explained that the projection will reduce the Synod’s unrestricted revenues from $21.48 million in the current fiscal year, to $20.259 million for the coming year.
Schultz added that as Synod executives develop a budget for the Board’s consideration at its May meeting, “our focus will be on funding program and ministry initiatives that support congregations and districts to the highest degree possible.”
Also at its meeting last month, the Board of Directors endorsed projects for next year proposed by national Synod unit executives, to be funded by an anticipated $1.1 million block grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. For those projects, the Board will include in the units’ budgets for 2009-10 an unused sum of $111,054 from the Thrivent Block Grant for projects in the current year.
The Board of Directors also approved proposals from two Concordia Universities for building projects on their campuses.
For Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn., the Board approved a new campus master plan, construction of a stadium, and authorization for its Board of Regents to secure a construction bridge loan of up to $4.5 million for the stadium.
Already, the university has received $6.1 million in gifts and pledges for the project, including a single pledge of $5.5 million.
And for Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, the Board approved the school’s proposal to build a Center for Environmental Stewardship and authorized its board to secure a construction bridge loan of no more than $3.5 million for it.
Rev. Charles S. Mueller Jr., who is senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Roselle, Ill., was appointed by the Board of Directors to fill a pastoral vacancy on the LCMS Board for Communication Services.
Among other actions at its February meeting, the Board approved changes to its own policies in several areas and to bylaws for the Concordia University System.
Continuing its practice of hearing firsthand from “ministry partners,” the Board welcomed and heard reports from staff executives of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, the Commission on Ministerial Growth and Support, and Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Posted Feb. 26, 2009