The Synodical Council (SC) met last Friday and Saturday for its fall meeting. Among the items discussed and decision made were:
- After two years of work exploring various options, a special committee presented a proposal to make changes to the synod’s retirement benefit program. The proposed improvements to the plan would better support our workers and our overall ministry efforts. Following the Conference of Presidents’ support of the proposal in October, the Synodical Council approved the proposal, which will be presented as a resolution to the district conventions this summer. A complete description of the proposal, along with a “Q and A” feature and opportunities for online comments and questions, will be shared with the synod in January. The proposed changes will not apply to current retirees receiving pension benefits.
- The SC heard a report from WELS Christian Aid and Relief detailing ways in which the synod can be better prepared to assist congregations and individuals in times of disaster. The SC extended a call to Rev. Robert Hein to serve as the full-time Director of Christian Aid and Relief, a position that has been unfilled for several years. The director’s role will be to facilitate efforts to provide congregations and districts with training to help them prepare for response when disasters strike.
- The SC approved a number of Ministry Financial Plan modifications. One of those modifications gave the approval to the Board for World Missions to move forward with the plans to establish a ministry training school in Vietnam. Funding for this effort has been provided by the generous gifts from congregations and individuals.
- The SC approved funding for one item on the “Unfunded Priority List.” This action will enable the calling of an additional person for the congregational counseling effort, which provides assistance to congregations as they consider ministry plans to address increasing challenges posed by demographic changes and other factors.
- The SC received the report on the financial results from the fiscal year that ended June 30. Even though Congregation Mission Offerings were $300,000 less than the plan, underspending and other factors more than made up for the shortfall and the year ended with the synod in a healthy financial position. WELS Investment Funds has $225 million of assets under management. The WELS Church Extension Fund and WELS Foundation also had strong financial results, enabling their boards to transfer excess reserves to the synod for the support of missions and ministry.
- WELS financial statements received an unmodified opinion, the best you can get, from external auditors.
- The SC reviewed the balances in the special funds of the synod’s areas of ministry and ministerial education schools and found that across the board the balances were higher than four years ago.
Serving in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder