At the synod convention in August 2017, WELS President Mark Schroeder (pictured: left) and WELS Chief Financial Officer Todd Poppe (pictured: right) marked the retirement of the synod’s debt by shredding a copy of the debt statement.
Begun in 2015, the “One in Christ” campaign to eliminate the synod’s debt was generously supported by WELS members and resulted in the payoff occurring one-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. The money that was being used for debt payments can now be used to support WELS ministry.
Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) are the main source of support for WELS ministry. While CMO has slightly increased, it is not keeping up with inflation and has remained flat for about 10 years.
As Poppe explains, “The current ministry financial plan keeps WELS on solid financial ground, but projected near-flat Congregation Mission Offerings when costs are increasing 3.5 percent may challenge WELS’ ability to maintain ministries beyond the 2017–19 biennium.”
To maintain existing ministry with these rising costs and flat revenue, the Synodical Council authorized a greater use of reserves in this biennium’s ministry financial plan.
The Financial Stabilization Fund continues to be sound. The fund holds all non-CMO sources of operating support, which includes gifts from individuals and non-CMO gifts from congregations, bequests, investment income, grant money, and endowment fund distributions. Gifts are spent in the year after they are received, making it possible to address new opportunities and to avoid sudden reductions in ministry. Unexpected gifts to WELS have put the Financial Stabilization Fund in a more favorable situation than when the 2017–19 ministry financial plan was first developed.
“We are thankful for the support of WELS members,” says Schroeder, “and we ask God’s continued blessing on our efforts to most efficiently and effectively utilize available resources.”