Board adopts resolution ‘to support Concordia College Alabama’

Students walk to class outside the Kreft Campus Center at Concordia College Alabama in Selma, Ala. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

Students walk to class outside the Kreft Campus Center at Concordia College Alabama in Selma, Ala. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Joe Isenhower Jr. (joe.isenhower@lcms.org)

ST. LOUIS — The LCMS Board of Directors (BOD) is granting Concordia College Alabama (CCA) in Selma, Ala., a total of up to $4 million by Dec. 1— contingent on the college meeting certain conditions.

After several hours of discussion at its Feb. 19-20 meeting here, the Board approved that granting plan with adoption of a resolution that has 22 “Whereases” — including one that notes, “The LCMS has always recognized and deeply appreciated the important cultural, spiritual and educational role CCA has played in the Selma, Alabama, community, and has always viewed CCA as a unique opportunity for mission and, therefore, has voluntarily provided financial donations and other support to CCA for decades.”

Another “Whereas” points out that “the LCMS, the Concordia University System [CUS — the Synod’s governing entity for the nine LCMS colleges and universities], other Concordia universities, other Synod-related corporate entities and individual members and congregants of the LCMS have provided CCA with significant financial, operational and spiritual support throughout the institution’s existence.”

Since July 2006, the corporate Synod and the CUS have granted CCA more than $5 million to support continuing the institution’s operations — as CCA has faced significant financial and other challenges to carrying out its mission. In addition, a line of credit has been available to the college, as is the case with each of the CUS schools.

“The Synod has gone to extraordinary lengths to assist with the ongoing ministry of Concordia College Alabama,” CUS Board of Directors Chairman Dr. Gerhard Mundinger Jr. wrote to Reporter via email. “CCA is not alone in financial struggles that have been suffered by many smaller faith-based colleges. The mission and ministry of CCA have consistently relied upon additional sources of funding and as of late these sources have been less available.

“There is certainly widespread love and support within the LCMS for CCA and its mission,” Mundinger continued. “We remain prayerfully hopeful that mechanisms to sustain this mission and ministry will be found for CCA. We know that all things work to good for those who trust in God and are called according to His purpose.”

In December, the Board of Regents for Concordia, Selma, submitted requests and two options to the Synod Board of Directors for financially supporting the college.

According to the BOD resolution, one of the options proposed by the CCA board was that CCA would “continue as a college under the auspices of the LCMS Bylaws and requirements of the CUS.” The other option proposed “that CCA would be divested from the LCMS and seek status as [an LCMS] Recognized Service Organization.”

Both options called for the LCMS to provide CCA with $12-18 million “over the next four years.”

In response, the BOD resolution makes it clear that “in light of [limited] LCMS revenues, expenses and other missions that need financial support, … the [national office of the] LCMS does not have the financial resources to provide or commit such financial resources requested by CCA over the next four years.”

The BOD resolution’s five final “Whereases” state the following:

  • “The LCMS sincerely and wholeheartedly desires to support the ministry of CCA within the LCMS’ financial means and in accordance with good stewardship and God-pleasing ways.”
  • “The LCMS has encouraged CCA to submit an overture to the Synod in convention for financial and spiritual support for its future.”
  • “The LCMS has encouraged the CCA Board of Regents to meet its fiduciary responsibility to … CCA by taking such actions as developing a realistic and responsible business plan for the future, while at the same time adopting a contingency plan for an orderly closure of the institution that would provide protections for the CCA students, faculty and staff if the circumstances require such.”
  • “The LCMS wishes to offer support for a period of time that will allow the CCA Board of Regents to address the financial concerns of the college.”
  • “The LCMS joyfully and voluntarily, in accordance with the mission and objectives of the Synod Constitution and to the glory of God, wishes to provide donations to CCA totaling $4 million.”

The one “Resolved” of the Board of Directors’ resolution lays out four conditional terms for delivery of its $4 million grant.

CCA will first receive $1.5 million by March 15 to meet its financial obligations. Also by that date, another $200,000 from the Synod will go toward CCA putting in place a chief operating officer “to provide the necessary leadership to become a self-sustaining institution.”

The remaining Synod donations in calendar year 2016 — all contingent on CCA delivering specified planning and operating results — would be made in the following amounts:

  • $1.5 million by July 15,
  • $500,000 by Oct. 1, and
  • $300,000 by Dec. 1.

Board members made comments throughout the discussion indicating their concerns for CCA and its difficult circumstances, as well as for the economic realities facing the Synod.

The LCMS Board of Directors’ resolution of support for Concordia College Alabama is expected to be available by mid-March at lcms.org/bod.

“It’s a pleasure to sit on a board where business is conducted well, and where we can make hard decisions and whatever the outcome, remain fraternal,” said BOD member Rev. Dr. Victor Belton at the end of the meeting. Belton, who is pastor of a congregation in the Atlanta area, also is the BOD’s special representative to the CCA Board of Regents.

“That’s a pretty nice word to end the meeting on,” Board Chairman Rev. Dr. Michael Kumm replied before calling for adjournment.

Also at its Feb. 19-20 meeting, the Synod Board of Directors approved recommending a number of overtures for floor committees to consider for action by delegates to the 2016 Synod convention, set for July 9-14 in Milwaukee. They include measures to:

  • celebrate 175 years of combined ministry and service of the two Synod auxiliaries — the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and the International Lutheran Laymen’s League.
  • revise and enhance the nomination and election process for regional members of the LCMS Board of Directors and the Synod’s two mission boards.
  • form a task force to review the LCMS Recognized Service Organization program and Bylaws.

The Board also adopted a policy on investing in donor-care efforts and limiting fundraising costs to prudent levels.

Among other actions, the Synod Board of Directors appointed David Daniels of Taylorsville, N.C., to fill a vacant seat as a layman on the Board of Regents for Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Board of Directors also made preparations for and discussed setting the corporate Synod’s budget at its next meeting, May 26-27 in St. Louis.

Posted March 3, 2016 / Updated March 10, 2016 (The amount of support that the corporate Synod and CUS have granted CCA since July 2006 is more than $5 million. The incorrect amount initially provided for this story was “slightly more than $8 million.”) 

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