The following items were discussed or decided at November’s meeting of the Synodical Council (SC):
- Reports from WELS Church Extension Fund, WELS Investment Funds, and WELS Foundation indicated strong and healthy financial results for all three subsidiaries.
- Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) reported it is planning to develop a new WELS religion curriculum called “Curriculum 22:6” (a reference to Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it”). The curriculum will include levels for early childhood through high school and will also be suitable for use in both Sunday schools and elementary schools. Development time will take approximately five years. NPH also reported that sales of the new hymnal are strong and above projections.
- WELS Benefit Plans reported the transition to the new retirement plan is going well. The SC gave final formal approval to implement the new plan on Jan. 1, 2022.
- Chief Financial Officer Mr. Kyle Egan reported that Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) totaled $22.6 million (the highest ever) and was $1.2 million higher than the previous year. He also reported the Financial Stabilization Fund finished the year with a balance of $19.5 million, an increase over the prior year by $3.3 million. All four synodical schools ended the fiscal year with higher surpluses than the previous year. CMO for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 remained strong and above projections.
- The synod learned last week that its Paycheck Protection Program loan of $2.6 million was forgiven. All synodical entities eligible for PPP loans (synodical schools, Northwestern Publishing House, and the synod) now have had their loans forgiven.
- The SC created a new “Ministry Opportunity Fund” to provide continuing support for unfunded priorities and for new ministry opportunities. The fund will initially include about $5 million coming from the Financial Stabilization Fund. The SC passed a resolution that this fund would provide $750,000 for four years to WELS Home Missions in support of its 100 new missions in 10 years initiative.
- The SC approved the transfer of the synod’s ownership interest in the Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel and Student Center property in Madison, Wis. The property and buildings will be fully owned by the Chapel and Student Center.
- The SC will consider providing additional funding for WELS Military Services once the SC receives a detailed request of how the dollars will be used. A convention request for additional funding for WELS Prison Ministry was answered with grants from the Antioch II Foundation and the Schwan Foundation.
- The SC, with the encouragement of the Conference of Presidents, appointed a committee to begin the process of developing a new synod strategic plan for the year 2025 and beyond. First Vice President Rev. James Huebner will chair the committee.
- The SC will work with WELS Home Missions to support the 100/10 initiative that will begin in 2023.
Once again, the SC marveled at the grace of God and the generosity of our WELS members. To him be the glory!
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder