Ninety-seven percent of all WELS congregations submitted Congregation Mission Offering (CMO) subscriptions for 2015. This is the highest percentage of congregations to submit subscriptions in several years. We are grateful for the prayerful commitments made by our congregations to support the work of the synod in the coming year and are confident that those congregations that did not submit subscriptions will also share in supporting our common mission, as they have in the past.
The total dollar amount of subscriptions, however, showed a 1.8% decline from actual offerings received in 2014. Total CMO subscriptions for 2015 are $20,617,656 compared to $21,264,681 in actual gifts received in 2014. Subscriptions from more than half of the congregations were higher or the same as their actual gifts in 2014, but a significant number of subscriptions were lower than the previous year’s totals.
Later this month, the Synodical Council (SC) will be putting the finishing touches on the Ministry Financial Plan (budget) it will present to the synod convention this summer. As the SC carries out that task, it will need to consider the challenges posed by this decline in CMO subscriptions and how it will affect the overall mission and ministry of the synod.
Last year, in response to lower-than-planned CMO commitments in 2014, the SC made reductions in the Ministry Financial Plan totaling $825,000 through program cuts, underspending, or other cost savings. This action, along with the “CMO revisit” and the resulting actual offerings in 2014 that slightly exceeded the new commitments, should help to lessen the impact of lower 2015 CMO subscriptions. In addition, World Missions, Ministerial Education schools, and other areas of ministry have benefited from significant gifts from individuals and bequests.
It’s anticipated that the Synodical Council will present a Ministry Financial Plan to the convention that features no increase in planned synodical support for both years of the biennium. If offerings do exceed what is anticipated (and we pray that is the case), the SC will recommend a list of unfunded priorities that could be implemented when funding becomes available.
God continues to bless our synod with the generous support of our congregations. Since he continues to place many opportunities to spread the gospel, we pray that he would continue to move our people to generous and joyful giving, motivated by the good news of what Christ has done for us and for a world of sinners.
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder