Freitag retiring from LCEF presidency

Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) President Merle Freitag announced July 22 that he will retire from that position Jan. 15.
“In 1998, when I interviewed with the [LCEF] Board of Directors, I indicated that I would serve for 10 years,” Freitag wrote in a letter to the board announcing his intention to retire.
“I have served over 11 years, and have been happy to do so, but am ready for the next chapter of my life,” he said later in a meeting with LCEF staff members.
Freitag, who is 69, said he “intend[s] to remain active in the LCMS organization, helping with the Ablaze! initiative, which I fully support and believe in, and likely will continue to serve on the [committee] of [LCMS] Ministry to the Armed Forces — something that’s near and dear to my heart.” 
Freitag chairs both the Synod’s Ablaze! Steering Committee and its Ministry to the Armed Forces Committee. 

He was in the U.S. Army for 32 years, serving as comptroller of the Army (1991-94) and as director of the Army budget (1989-91).  He retired in 1994 with the rank of Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret).

Before joining the LCEF staff, Freitag was vice president of finance for the American Red Cross Biomedical Services.

In the 11-plus years of his presidency of LCEF, the fund’s total assets rose by 84 percent, to $1.8 billion, and investments increased 123 percent, to $1.57 billion.

“And most importantly,” the July 22 LCEF news release about Freitag’s retirement decision states, “LCEF has more dollars at work for LCMS ministries than ever before, with a current portfolio of over $1.5 billion in loans to congregations, schools, and rostered church workers.”

The release notes that during Freitag’s presidency, LCEF introduced several new products for the Synod and its members — such as the Rostered Church Worker Loan program, the interest-bearing Steward Account(r), and the related Family Emergency and FlexPlus Health Savings Account. Ministry-services offerings of LCEF that he helped expand include Laborers For Christ, Capital Funding Services, and Consecrated Stewards.

LCEF Board of Directors Chairman Dr. David Belasic said, “While we were saddened by Merle’s request to retire in early 2010, we are very thankful for the gifts that he shared with our Synod and the many lives that were touched by the Gospel during his tenure at LCEF.

“This isn’t just a job of balancing numbers for Merle,” Belasic continued. “This is a ministry that makes it possible for LCMS churches, schools, and rostered church workers to accomplish their missions. And he fully embraced the concept and serves us well.”

The LCEF board has established a search committee to identify potential candidates and to select the new president. For a job description or an application for the position, or to recommend qualified individuals, contact Vencine Bush of the Synod’s Human Resources Department at

Freitag and his wife, Phyllis, plan to continue living in the St. Louis area.  They are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Ellisville, Mo.

Posted Aug. 5, 2009

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