The Synodical Council (SC) held its winter meeting last week. The foremost item on the agenda was the adoption of the 2015-2017 biennium Ministry Financial Plan (budget) to be recommended to the synod convention for consideration this summer.
Prior to adopting the plan, the SC received word that the Church Extension Fund (CEF) will be making grants of $700,000 to Home Missions in each of the next two years. In addition, the WELS Foundation also forwarded a grant of $460,000 to the synod this year and is planning grants of $150,000 annually during the biennium. Both of these grants to the synod resulted from newly adopted policies governing the unrestricted net assets of the WELS Foundation.
As a part of the planning process the SC first adopted the Support Forecast, which estimates the anticipated financial support available for the synod’s mission and ministry. On the basis of that information, the SC then established spending levels for all areas of ministry in a Ministry Financial Plan that includes the following features:
- The operating support total of $29,426,700 for the first year is virtually unchanged from the current operating support of $29,410,800.
- The operating support total for the second year of the biennium drops to $27,890,800, since the anticipated retirement of the synod’s capital debt will no longer require the $1,600,000 allocation for debt repayment.
- Total expenditures (which include synod support and special funds) increase by $1.2 million in the first year, with the majority of that increase in Home Missions, made possible by the use of additional special funds already on hand and the grant from the CEF.
- Even though the synod support levels have been kept flat, the overall plan provides sufficient support for our Ministerial Education schools and for all existing World Mission fields and expanded work in Home Missions.
- Home Missions receives an additional allocation of $700,000 in both years of the biennium as a result of the grant from the Church Extension Fund. This will enable it to plant several additional new home missions.
- The Support Forecast assumes a 1% increase in CMO in each year of the biennium. Increases greater than that will either enable some unfunded items to be funded or will result in a smaller drawdown of the Financial Stabilization Fund.
While the decrease in Congregation Mission Offering subscriptions for 2015 presented some challenges, the SC earlier made reductions of $825,000 in the current year plan to enable the synod to operate within expected levels of support. Additional steps taken in forming the 2015-2017 plan are also intended to keep the synod’s expenditures within the planned levels of support. The complete plan will be published in the Book of Reports and Memorials.
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder