ST. LOUIS — The Synod’s Board of Directors took several positive actions at its Feb. 17-18 meeting here — including endorsement of allocating to 28 projects of Synod units a total of $1,150,000 in funds anticipated from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ Churchwide Grant Program to the LCMS for the coming budget year.
Also at that meeting, the Board heard of sharp Synod-revenue reductions, in preparation for its meeting in May, when it considers an operating budget for the national Synod.
The Churchwide Grant Program funds are given to the Synod each year by the Lutheran fraternal organization. With the Board’s approval, the grant allocations proposed for projects by Synod executives are then incorporated into the budget for the coming year.
For the 2011-12 budget year of the national Synod, those proposals include six “Type B” large-scale or cross-unit projects and 22 classified as “Type A” projects that do not exceed $40,000 in funding.
The six “Type B” projects, the amount of Thrivent Churchwide Block funds allocated for them and the Synod units responsible for them are as follows:
- The Koinonia Project, $150,000 — Office of the President.
- “Recruiting, nurturing and retaining professional workers for the LCMS,” $127,500 — Pastoral Education, Concordia University System Board, District and Congregational Services.
- International Model Theological Conference on Confessional Lutheran Leadership in the 21st Century, $125,000 — Commission on Theology and Church Relations, president’s office.
- LCMS Video Initiative, $115,000 — LCMS Communications on behalf of several other Synod units.
- Sustainable Lutheran Schools, Leadership Development, $100,000 — LCMS School Ministry, LCMS National Mission.
- National Ministry Strategic Planning, $50,000 — LCMS World Mission.
“Type A” projects for which the Board approved Churchwide Grant funding cover a variety of programs, activities and emphases — including downloadable publicity kits for congregations, a sanitation and clean water project in Haiti, expanding Hispanic ministry resources, congregational outreach training, commemorative editions of The Lutheran Witness, support of Black ministry, focus groups for early-childhood ministry, review of the Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support (PALS) program, a hymn writer’s workshop, and LCMS outreach to people of differing or limited abilities.
Charles Rhodes, executive director of accounting for the Synod, pointed to several items for the Board’s consideration as it prepares to address the 2011-12 national Synod operating budget in May.
Using figures current through Nov. 10, Rhodes said that results of Synod operations showed a $978,000 “unfavorable variance to budget.”
He added that revenues were $5.7 million “behind budget” — primarily from decreases in restricted giving.
“All the units within Synod program board areas have decreased their expenses, but these decreases have not been sufficient to offset the shortfall in revenue,” Rhodes said.
As of Feb. 18, the preliminary projected 2011-12 undesignated support budget for the Synod was estimated at $19,549,000, compared with the 2010-11 undesignated support budget totaling $23,025,000.
“Synod income flow mirrors the districts’ income flow,” Rhodes told the Board, as he explained that district pledges for the 2011-12 Synod budget stand at $16,155,615, compared with their pledges of $17,794,515 for the 2010-11 Synod budget.
Toward the end of the budget discussion, Rhodes spoke of difficulties — in system conversions, for instance — if the 2011-12 Synod budget would need to be prepared to match the national-Synod restructuring mandated by the 2010 Synod convention.
However, the Board supported preparing that budget to match the current structure, and possibly adjusting it through the upcoming year as staff restructuring takes place.
The Board also approved a resolution setting the “salary increase budget” for 2011-12 at 0 percent and the “bonus budget” for the coming fiscal year “at 1.5 percent of the … salary budget.”
Also during its recent meeting, the Board of Directors appointed a 13-member task force to study and make recommendations concerning “the efficiency of cooperative interaction for the fiscal strength of the LCMS system of colleges, universities, and seminaries.”
That action complies with 2010 Synod Convention Resolution 4-04A, titled “To Study Higher Education and Bring an Action Plan to the 2013 LCMS Convention.”
Among other actions, the Board reappointed for the next three years Ronald P. “Ron” Schultz as the Synod’s chief administrative officer and the Thompson Coburn, LLP law firm as the General Counsel for the Synod.
In addition to reports from Synod offices, the Board heard updates and reports from those responsible for several LCMS ministries and initiatives. They included:
- Five representatives of Lutheran Housing Support (LHS), who spoke about its work of bringing people back into neighborhoods and the church by “providing support that promotes improvement of economic conditions, housing and other services to revitalize and prevent deteriorated communities,” according to the LHS mission statement.
- Rev. Tom Ries, president of the LCMS Foundation, who explained the services offered by the Foundation, particularly helping LCMS members with stewardship of all of their resources, while supporting the Synod and its associated organizations.
- James Sanft, president and chief executive officer of Concordia Plan Services, who reported on amendments to and restatement of the Concordia Retirement Plan, effective Dec. 1, 2010.
- Barbara Below and Rev. Jon Vieker, assistant and senior assistant to the Synod president, respectively, who provided an update on restructuring of the national LCMS staff.
- Dr. Alan Borcherding and Dr. Gayle Grotjan, respective interim president and director of cooperative services for the Concordia University System (CUS), who spoke about responsibilities of the CUS, including those shared with the Board of Directors.
- LCMS First Vice President Rev. Herbert C. Mueller Jr., who provided an update on the Koinonia Project.
- David Fiedler, executive director of General Services for the Synod, who told the Board about establishment of an endowment for the upkeep of the mausoleum at Concordia Cemetery in St. Louis where Dr. and Mrs. C.F.W. Walther are buried.
Posted March 2, 2011