by Jerald C. Wulf
We certainly are living in interesting times. It seems the challenges we face are ever-increasing. Yet we trust in our Lord’s promises to provide for our needs, as well as for the work He would have us do together through our beloved Synod.
During Fiscal Year 2011 (July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011), did you know that through your Sunday morning offerings and other financial support, you participated in mission activities in more than 90 countries around the world, provided support to two LCMS seminaries and 10 colleges and universities, and made many resources and services available to each of the more than 6,000 LCMS member congregations?
Did you also know that those offerings helped us to better understand and maintain proper church doctrine to guide us in the face of ever-changing societal norms? Did you know those offerings supported continuing dialogue between the LCMS, Lutheran and other church bodies around the world in an effort to promote the proclamation of the pure Gospel of Christ Jesus to a world so desperately in need of its comfort, assurance and hope that can be found nowhere else under heaven than in the life, death and glorious resurrection of Christ Jesus? To Him be all glory, honor and praise now and forever!
As I reviewed the financial statements of The LCMS, Inc., for the recently completed fiscal year, I had to pause to give thanks to our Lord who has and continues to richly bless His people of the LCMS. Thanks be to God that a number of years ago, several brothers and sisters in Christ were moved by the Holy Spirit to provide generous bequests to the LCMS to be used where needed most. Because those good stewards recognized our Lord as the Fount and Source of all their earthly blessings, their generous and thoughtful planning allowed The LCMS, Inc., to end the 2011 fiscal year with an excess of revenues over expenses of about $3.6 million. Accordingly, the amount of equity financing that had previously been used to fund current operations decreased from $15.4 million to $10.6 million. That is great news to be able to share with you.
However, that good financial news must be tempered by the continued trend of reduced unrestricted financial support shared with The LCMS, Inc., by its component districts. According to information in The Lutheran Annual from 2001-2009, total financial gifts received by member congregations have been gradually increasing even while the aggregate number of congregation members has been declining. Financial resources for district, national and international work shared by member congregations for the work of the Synod and its districts has remained flat or declined slightly.
The financial support passed on to the Synod by the districts has been decreasing over the years–nearly $1 million per year on average–with a $1.6 million decrease in the level of support from FY 2011 to the current FY 2012. That trend of declining unrestricted support from the districts, coupled with slowly rising prices over the years, challenges us to meet the mission and ministry opportunities that our God places before us.
I daily thank God for each and every one of you who the Holy Spirit has called to walk together in the proclamation of the Gospel by supporting the mission activities of our beloved congregations, beloved districts and beloved Synod. We are so blessed by the gracious outpouring of good gifts from our Lord that, even in the face of our current financial challenges, we must rejoice. How can we do anything else?
> Audit reports will be available at www.lcms.org/bod on or about Dec. 1, 2011.
About the Author: Jerald C. Wulf is the LCMS Chief Financial Officer.