by Kim Plummer Krull
How much has the capital campaign raised, and what’s left to go?
The capital fund-raising campaign Fan into Flame has led to blessings as well as challenges.
That’s important for LCMS members to know, says LCMS President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, because “in order for us to solve our financial challenges, we must be honest, transparent and clear with the people who provide the money.”
The campaign, endorsed by the 2004 Synod convention, seeks to secure $100 million to further mission work in the United States and abroad. “The campaign has brought and continues to bring tremendous blessings,” Harrison says. “Much is happening around the world for the sake of the Gospel that would not be occurring without Fan into Flame.”
Through March, the campaign had raised $63.8 million in cash and pledges. Of that amount, $44.9 million has been collected in cash. To achieve the original goal, $36.2 million still needs to be raised by Reformation Day, Oct. 31, when the formal campaign ends.
Challenges persist. Fan into Flame was designed to incur operational costs of no more than $10 million of its original $100 million goal—the lowest reasonable operational expense in order to maximize new funds for work in the mission field. But those expenses (which include costs for materials, management and staff) have exceeded $18.3 million. The economic recession and additional operational expenses (not included in the original campaign budget) have contributed to increased costs.
While some districts chose not to take part in Fan into Flame, other districts have been enthusiastic and successful participants. Another plus: The campaign enabled the Synod to connect with some 8,000 new donors. “These are good people who care about the ministry of the church and simply want the Gospel to go forth and want to use their gifts to help make that happen,” Harrison says.
The LCMS president expresses great appreciation for the Synod’s principal gift officers, people who visit with donors and connect them with giving opportunities. “They believe deeply in the Gospel and the mission of the church,” Harrison says of the development staff. “They operate with complete integrity, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
“We’ve learned a great deal from Fan into Flame,” Harrison says. “Blessings from those gifts will continue for years and years to come—into eternity.” But, he adds, the solution to the Synod’s financial challenges doesn’t reside at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis. “The solutions are sitting in the pews of our churches every Sunday morning,” he says. “They are the people who want—and need—to be informed.”
> LCMS congregations had a median budget of $175,000 in 2009.
> The Fan into Flame campaign generated roughly 20,000 gifts.