By Joe Isenhower Jr. (email@example.com)
ST. LOUIS — The national Synod’s operating budget for the 2016 fiscal year that starts July 1 is $81,865,893 — set by the LCMS Board of Directors at its May 15-16 meeting here.
That is about $6.4 million more than the operating budget for the current 2015 fiscal year — due mainly to the growing number of LCMS missionaries and anticipated expenditures of restricted (or designated) funds.
The Synod’s Office of International Mission is making significant strides toward fulfilling the 2013 Synod-convention mandate to double the number of LCMS career missionaries to 136 by the time of the 2016 convention next summer in Milwaukee.
The 2016 budget also includes a contingency of some $456,000.
It includes a salary increase of 3 percent for national-Synod employees and reflects an estimated 9 percent increase for their health benefits. The budget also continues all current Synod-staff positions and provides funding for several new staff positions.
Synod Chief Financial Officer Jerald C. Wulf — who presented the budget to the Board, along with Executive Director of Accounting Ross Stroh — told Reporter that preparation of the 2016 operating budget began in January and “was accomplished through the great collaboration of the Office of the President, the Synod’s Operations Team and the heads of each budgetary unit.”
Wulf also noted that “the budget balances expected revenues against anticipated expenses,” which has been the case each year since he became CFO in 2011.
He said that although “the undesignated [congregational] offerings total that the 35 LCMS districts share with the Synod for mission and ministry continues to decline, that decline is less steep than in the recent past.”
Because many LCMS districts’ fiscal calendars are not the same as the Synod’s July-June fiscal calendar, the amount of their pledges for the Synod’s new fiscal year is partially estimated. The adjusted district-pledge support for the Synod in fiscal year 2016 is $14,402,000, compared with $14,696,000 for fiscal year 2015.
After adding revenue from gifts, grants and bequests and other sources, the total of unrestricted support available for the new budget year is $18,784,455. Restricted funds available and budgeted total $63,081,438. Their ratio of 77/23 percent is the same as for the current year, Stroh told the Board.
At its May meeting, the Board also adopted a capital budget of $1,085,127 and a budget for the 2016 Synod convention of $1,994,119.
Most of the funding for the convention budget comes from a levy of each district that is calculated as outlined in Synod Bylaw 3.1.9(d)(1). The Board of Directors designated that $250,000 generated by cost savings related to the 2013 Synod convention be applied to lower the district levy for the 2016 convention levy. Wulf indicated that there is no guarantee that any savings will be generated in connection with the 2016 convention.
In other action
Also at its May 15-16 meeting, the Synod Board of Directors adopted resolutions that:
- approve Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center of Angola, N.Y., as a corporation of the LCMS Eastern District. The approval is retroactive to 1990, when the district “took possession” of the camp, and is “in compliance with” 1981 Synod convention Resolution 5-07, which states that the Synod Board must approve such status. The Eastern District did not have evidence that the Synod Board had ever taken such action, and had requested that it do so.
- allow reallocation for a portion of $594,000 in designated funds that the Board had allocated to the LCMS National Housing Support Corporation 10 years ago for providing housing loans.
- approve relatively minor changes to several of its policies.
- encourage the LCMS Commission on Handbook “to review and propose revisions to the nomination and preparation of slate processes” for LCMS regional elections that would include “consideration of incumbency in similar fashion to what is the case in non-regional elections.” The action also encourages the commission “to review convention procedures for floor nominations in general” for Synod conventions.
- thank the Rev. Bart Day “for his faithful service as the Synod’s interim chief mission officer,” noting that he “provided continuity and leadership during this yearlong interim service to the LCMS, in addition to carrying out his primary assignment as the executive director of the Office of National Mission.”The resolution also encourages Synod members “to continue to raise up in prayer [the LCMS], its new Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson and the work of the Offices of National Mission and International Mission.”
- “thank [on behalf of the Synod’s baptized members and congregations] … Brenda Wilson of St. Louis for her “sixteen years of dedicated service,” including nine as “executive assistant to the [LCMS] chief administrative officer, supporting the work of the Synod and the Board of Directors.” Wilson recently accepted a position with another faith-based employer in St. Louis.
The Synod Board of Directors also approved the following appointments to:
- the Concordia University System Board of Directors — the Rev. Byron Northwick of Saint Ansgar, Iowa, to fill a vacancy.
- the Board of Directors — Concordia Plan Services and Board of Trustees — Concordia Plans — all reappointed to lay positions: Philip J. Fluegge of Shelby Township, Mich.; Frederick G. Kraegel, Henrico, Va.; Robert P. Lesko, Boonton, N.J.; and Mark E. Schmidtke, Valparaiso, Ind.; and reappointed to an “ordained” position the Rev. Kory B. Boster of Sallisaw, Okla.
- Lutheran Church Extension Fund members at-large — Richard Boyer of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the Rev. Ronald R. Carnicom, Hackensack, Minn.; Howard Luehmann, Lewistown, Minn.; and the Rev. Rexford Umbenhauer III, El Segundo, Calif. Appointed alternates are the Rev. Robert M. Zagore (first alternate), Traverse City, Mich.; the Rev. Charles P. Olander (second alternate), New Holland, Ill.; and Eric Preus (third alternate), Osseo, Minn.
“It’s a good moment for the Synod,” LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison told the BOD as he commented on his report in the Board docket.
He commended the Board for its consideration of the balanced budget for 2016, characterized LCMS district conventions as “calm,” welcomed Robson to the staff, and mentioned Synod units that are “hitting their stride.”
Harrison spoke of the dedication of the International Lutheran Center in Wittenberg, Germany’s, renovated Old Latin School as a “tool for worldwide confessional Lutheranism. … It’s off to a good start,” he said, adding that the Synod’s German partner church, the Selbständige Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche, is working to establish a congregation based at that center.
Harrison also spoke of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage that it is expected to hand down this month and what it could mean for LCMS congregations and schools.
Robson offered brief remarks at this first Board of Directors meeting that he has attended, saying that he is “very much looking forward to working in this position.”
Two other LCMS staff leaders also addressed the Board — Mark Hofman, executive director of Mission Advancement (MADV), and Executive Director of Communications David Strand.
Hofman gave an overview of Mission Advancement’s history and its “2016 plan alongside a longer-range strategic vision and plan.” Strand spoke of of his department’s units and their work that serves the church.
Hofman also laid out five long-range strategic goals for Mission Advancement for the next five years:
- “We are clearly Lutheran in our fundraising and care of donors.”
- “Donors are joyful, fulfilled and hopeful; we are a preferred partner. … They trust us.”
- “MADV is sufficiently resourced to balance efficiency and effectiveness.”
- “We are focused on long-term, consistent and equitable growth, especially in unrestricted and less-restricted gifts.”
- “We display … ‘markers’ predictive of ‘outrageous performance’ in advancement work.”
“Communications offers guidance to the other Synod ministry units,” Strand said, “often helping them develop and fulfill their strategic plans. … We’re a program department serving all the others.”
“We try to grow engagement with our target market — LCMS Lutherans — through dynamic communication pieces involving print, Web, video, social media and public relations,” Strand said.
The next meeting of the LCMS Board of Directors is Aug. 21-22 in St. Louis.
Posted May 21, 2015