Tuesday morning WELS Chief Financial Officer Mr. Todd Poppe presented the state of the synod’s Ministry Financial Plan (budget) to delegates. While the ministry financial plan is well documented in the Book of Reports and Memorials (page 127), Poppe reminded delegates that while God greatly blesses our synod, the harvest fields are vast and there is work to do.
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 therefore, has remained flat for about 10 years, creating an increasing strain at maintaining ministries at current levels and using up reserves.
As Poppe explains, “The proposed ministry financial plan keeps WELS on solid financial ground, but projected near-flat Congregation Mission Offerings when costs are increasing 3.5 percent could challenge WELS’ ability to maintain ministries beyond the 2017–19 biennium.”
In order to maintain existing ministry with these rising costs and flat revenue, the Synodical Council authorized a greater use of reserves in the ministry financial plan being presented for the upcoming biennium. As these reserves are drawn down, funding future ministry becomes more difficult unless offerings increase.
The Financial Stabilization Fund (FSF) continues to be sound. The FSF holds all non-CMO sources of support for one or more years after receipt, allowing for more stable financial planning. Poppe provided an update to the convention regarding that FSF, noting that since BORAM has been printed, unexpected gifts to WELS have put the FSF in a more favorable situation.
New this summer, WELS congregations, schools, and other organizations are encouraged to consider Church Mutual for organizational insurance needs. Church Mutual and WELS have joined in a group insurance program, where WELS congregations, schools, and organizations can benefit from a safety dividend, which equates to a cost savings, through Church Mutual. Poppe says, “WELS has entrusted the coverage of its buildings, property, and people to Church Mutual for more than 40 years. As we look around at our many blessings, it makes sense to protect God’s gifts in the best possible way, so that we can continue to expand ministry.”
Most notably, Poppe and President Mark Schroeder marked the retirement of the synod’s debt by shredding a copy of the debt statement. Two years ago, the synod in convention voted to launch a campaign to retire the debt early. Through God’s grace, WELS members offered their gifts to support this goal, and the debt was paid off a year and a half ahead of schedule.
To read the full financial report, view the BORAM online.
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WELS churches and schools featured in their local media.