By Joe Isenhower Jr.
After more than four hours of often passionate and painful discussion about how to eliminate more from proposed spending projections than unit executives had already pared, the Synod’s Board of Directors adopted a national-Synod operating budget of $87,601,646 for fiscal year 2010-11 at its May 20-21 meeting in St. Louis.
That budget includes $973,667 of the $2.3 million in revenue anticipated in the coming year from the proceeds and interest from the sale of KFUO-FM. The Board will later allocate the remaining $1,326,333 of the KFUO-FM sales revenue for the year.
Dr. Thomas Kuchta, the Synod’s vice-president-finance/treasurer, and Charles Rhodes, executive director of accounting, presented the Board with a proposed budget that still needed cuts of $2,571,000 in unrestricted expenditures to arrive at a balanced budget, which Board policy mandates.
The budget presentation also stated that for 2010-11, projected undesignated revenue for the national Synod — not counting the proceeds from the sale of KFUO-FM — would be down by $1,195,000 from earlier projections, including a total decrease of $1.6 million received from districts.
“I want to go on record commending Synod executives for their incredible cooperation working together with us as they made difficult decisions about $2 million in cuts they made to their proposed budgets,” Kuchta said. “They put in untold hours of work to arrive at reductions while making sure that vital Synod ministries would not be eliminated.”
Much of the passion and pain expressed by Board members centered on whether to use revenue from the sale of the radio station to offset the remaining cuts. Before arriving at its final budget decisions, the Board discussed but did not act on various other possible areas in which the budget might be cut, as well as the possibility of over-spending in an unbalanced budget.
The 2010-11 Synod operating budget includes $1,167,425 for a variety of projects of Synod units, to be funded from the 2010-11 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans block grant and surplus funds from earlier years’ Thrivent block grants.
The Board also adopted a capital budget for 2010-11 of $3,612,156 to meet requests for capital items for the national Synod.
Before budget discussion got under way, Board Chairman Donald Muchow expressed the hope that “as servants of the Synod’s assets and our donors’ dollars, may we work in budget preparation with prayerful deliberation and careful discernment to align our decisions with Synod’s vision and mission, and the Lord’s will.”
“We must not forget that our budget decisions affect people as well as the Synod mission and ministry,” Muchow later told the Board. “People are the most precious gifts that God has given our Synod through which God reaches other people who have not yet been gathered into His kingdom. By our work on the budget, some will suffer disappointment; others will be severely challenged as we strive to maximize the power of each dollar in reaching and nurturing people for Christ and the world to which we are sent. … We must act out of courage, not fear of feedback. We have been entrusted to act out of faithfulness, not emotion. My hope is that somehow we all may find discernment and strength from our living and ascended Lord, to whom we now dedicate our efforts.”
The Synod Board of Directors also adopted a resolution of thanks for the LCMS Minnesota South District and a gift of $250,000 from the district to the Synod for “unrestricted work of our Synod.” In addition to thanking District President Dr. Lane Seitz and the district board of directors, the Synod Board action “acknowledges and echoes the words of encouragement from the Minnesota South District to the other districts of the Synod asking them to “consider a faith-filled gift for God’s work, supporting the unrestricted work within the Synod.”
Synod President Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick told the Board of Directors that the district’s gift would be recognized as part of this year’s special offering that will culminate at the 2010 Synod convention.
In February, the Board approved an overture for the convention that calls for the Synod to join the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI).
Also at its May meeting, the Board endorsed a joint proposal of the Synod and Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Baltimore, to the United Nations Foundation that includes a grant of $4 million for joint work related to the LMI. The action also calls on the LCMS and LWR to develop “a collaborative and coordinative memorandum of understanding” for policies of working together to raise $45 million to combat malaria (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa) and to build support for the initiative among their constituencies.
LMI is a movement including the Synod, LWR, the UN Foundation, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Among other actions at its May meeting, the Board gave approval for Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, to borrow up to $10 million for construction of a building for its new pharmacy program. However, that action also encourages the university “to utilize operational funds as much as is prudent” for the project.
Last year, Concordia, Mequon, received authorization for the pharmacy program from the LCMS Board for University Education (BUE)/Concordia University System (CUS) board, and from the Synod Board of Directors for changes to its master plan to add a “footprint” for the building.
The Board elected five individuals to fill vacancies on the Board of Directors-Concordia Plan Services and Board of Trustees-Concordia Plans. The three incumbents re-elected are George F. Nolde of Richmond, Va.; Dr. Carol Reineck, San Antonio; and Rev. Fred Schroeder, Lander, Wyo. Newly elected are James Jaacks, St. Louis, and Judy Stromback, Minneapolis.
The Board of Directors postponed making appointments at the May meeting to the Synod Boards for Communication Services and Human Care Ministries, pending the outcome of possible restructuring decisions by the Synod convention this summer.
Among other items discussed was the Board’s participation in convention floor committee meetings that started just after the May Board meeting adjourned.
A number of representatives of Synod departments and “partners” reported to the Board on their work. They included Larry Lumpe, executive director of the Concordia Historical Institute; William Cochran, interim executive director of LCMS District and Congregational Services; Rev. Thomas Ries, president of the LCMS Foundation and Terry Whittle, the foundation’s senior vice-president for marketing/communications; Dr. Kurt Krueger, executive director of the BUE/CUS president, and Dr. Alan Borcherding, BUE director of university education; Dr. Thomas Zehnder, executive director of LCMS World Mission; and James Sanft, president and CEO of Concordia Plan Services/Concordia Plans.
As had been its practice throughout the current triennium, the Board at its final meeting of that period offered a prayer for each of its visitors and the ministries they represent after their individual presentations.
Posted May 27, 2010