The LCMS Board of Directors (BOD) met Aug. 24‒26 in St. Louis just as hurricanes were about to wreak havoc in Texas and the Southeast. Not long after the regular meeting, the Board would make a key decision to help optimize relief efforts for both storms.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, the BOD, anticipating a greater-than-normal charitable response for LCMS relief and recovery efforts than was originally budgeted for this fiscal year, voted unanimously to authorize a change in the allocation ratio for disaster-response gifts for both storms to a ratio of 94/6 percent for the duration of the initial relief effort.
This means a minimum of 94 percent of every donation to LCMS Disaster Response must be made available to carry out disaster relief, recovery and restoration work, and no more than 6 percent may be spent on engaging donors and fulfilling obligations to donors. While authorizing this change, the BOD reserved the right to make additional adjustments as relief efforts continue.
Read more about this at lcms.org/makeagift/faqs.
“We pray for the victims of these catastrophes and all the disaster responders, and we give thanks for the generosity being shown across the Synod in the wake of these devastating storms,” said BOD Chairman Rev. Dr. Michael L. Kumm.
Reimagining for greater effectiveness
The meeting began with a day’s retreat and continued with the regular quarterly meeting. In its retreat, the Board considered its core policies and manner of functioning with Synod executives and staff. The chief aim was “reimagining the business of the Board” for greater effectiveness, making the board more productive for the Synod and for its “owners,” the congregations.
At the outset, Chairman Kumm reiterated a recent theme: “We cannot keep doing Synod the way we’ve been doing it the last 50 years, and this includes this Board.”
Alternating between committee and plenary work, the Board developed a number of suggestions for improvement, and established a task force to develop proposals for November’s meeting. Also in its regular meeting, the Board received reports and took routine actions through its consent agenda.
In the remainder of the meeting:
- the Board interviewed three finalists for chief administrative officer (CAO) of the Synod, ultimately appointing Frank Simek of Keller, Texas. Simek, who comes to the Synod with extensive corporate executive-level management and financial experience, is expected to start work Oct. 2.
- the Board formally thanked LCMS Human Resources Executive Director Val Rhoden-Kimbrough for serving as acting CAO while simultaneously performing her regular duties as well as for her invaluable help in a productive search process for candidates throughout the CAO transition.
- the Board received visits from the chief executive officers of Concordia Publishing House and Concordia Plan Services, as well as from the Rev. Bart Day, who was preparing to begin his transition from serving as executive director of the Office of National Mission (ONM) to assuming the presidency of Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). Day noted his commitment in that capacity to “forge strong collaborative efforts and work between Synod and LCEF.”
- Chief Financial Officer Jerald Wulf reported to the Board on actions taken, at the Board’s May request, to reduce FY2018 mission-and-ministry budget expenditures by an additional $1 million in unrestricted/undesignated funds. Wulf noted that financial conditions are being monitored closely, that capital expenditures are on hold and that the Synod’s cash position is improving after a particularly challenging end to FY2017.
- among other changes to its policies and operating directives, the Board issued guidance for agencies reporting to the Board, intended to produce more uniform and more useful summary reports.
- a routine proposal to apply a standard 2 percent annual increase to Synod officer salaries was opposed by the officers present, who noted already generous compensation and the economic situation of the Synod and many of its workers. A salary increase for officers was unanimously rejected by the Board.
- concerning church matters outside the United States, the Board approved creation of a legal entity in Shanghai, necessitated by changes in Chinese business law and regulatory rulings.
The BOD next meets Nov. 16–17 in New Orleans, in conjunction with the LCEF Fall Conference and the corresponding meeting of the Council of Presidents.
Posted Sept. 26, 2017