Changes at Northwestern Publishing House

Last week Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) announced that it will be closing its Milwaukee retail store in October. While it’s sad to say goodbye to this brick and mortar store that served thousands of WELS members over the years, we can be thankful that the scripturally sound books and church resources will still be available to purchase online at nph.net.

It was becoming increasingly evident that our publishing house was being affected the same way so many other Christian bookstores, and retailers in general, have been—more and more people are making their purchases online. In response to the challenging realities they face, Northwestern Publishing House had to make some difficult decisions with the objective of exercising good stewardship of its limited resources.

NPH remains committed to its mission of developing biblically sound, Christ-centered, and trustworthy resources and will continue to publish new books, music, and other materials for our pastors, teachers, and WELS members. Last year, NPH launched a newly redesigned website that makes it easier to search for and find the books and products you value. If you haven’t done so lately, I’d encourage you to visit nph.net to see all it has to offer.

Synodical Council spring meeting recap

  • Through March, congregational offerings are down slightly from the previous year, but the picture will become clearer in May after Lent and Easter offerings have all been received.
  • Due to higher enrollment, lower expenses, and blessings on the new Congregational Partnership Grant program, Martin Luther College is projecting a surplus of $600,000 compared with a deficit of $600,000, which had been anticipated.
  • The Synodical Council (SC) reviewed a report from Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS) that outlined financial challenges resulting from lower than planned enrollment, lower gift totals, and several accounting errors that were discovered during the transition between business managers. The SC Executive Committee will be working with the new president of MLS, its governing board, and the Board for Ministerial Education to address these financial challenges. The SC deferred consideration of several capital improvement projects planned as a part of the MLS Foundation’s recent capital campaign until the financial challenges are addressed.
  • Significant savings were realized due to the 2016 decision to self-insure a portion of the health care costs of synodical workers. These savings were returned to the ministerial education schools, areas of ministry, and departments.
  • The SC expressed its thanks to the board and administration of Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) in the way it implemented recently announced changes to NPH operations.
  • The SC agreed on how the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in the synod’s compensation plan will be applied. To prevent sudden decreases in compensation and levels of compensation that would fall below the salaries listed on the salary schedules, the SC determined that 1) all synodical workers will receive no less than the numbers set forth in the salary matrix approved by the synod in convention; 2) the actual salary for a called position will be based on what the calling body has established as its applicable COLA for all workers at that institution; 3) salaries will be adjusted annually only if COLA increases from the previous year; and 4) exceptions to these policies for synodical workers can be granted in unusual cases by the synod president. The Executive Committee of the SC will continue to analyze how these policies will play out in actual practice prior to implementation on July 1, 2018. Salary matrices and a web-based called worker compensation calculator tool is available at wels.net/cwcompcalc.
  • Paul Holzhueter and Mr. Warren Ehlke each completed 12 years of faithful service as Synodical Council lay representatives of their districts. We thank them for their service.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder