In late December 2016, the final payment was made on the synod’s capital debt. The retirement of the debt took place nearly a year and a half ahead of schedule.
Efforts to repay the debt, which had reached $22.4 million in the early 2000s as a result of capital projects and amalgamations at the ministerial education schools as well as internal borrowing, began in 2009 with an initial synodwide special offering called the “Year of Jubilee.” Through that offering and in the years that followed, WELS members brought gifts for debt retirement totaling approximately $5 million. The plan was put in place to amortize the remaining debt by the end of 2018 by budgeting for annual payments of $1.6 million.
With the desire to retire the debt ahead of schedule, the Conference of Presidents recommended a second special offering to the 2013 synod convention, which resolved to launch that offering starting at the 2015 synod convention. Congregations and individuals in the synod responded to the “One in Christ” offering with gifts of $3.1 million. Those additional gifts and regular debt payments made it possible for the Synodical Council to make the final payment on the debt in December 2016.
The synod is now completely debt-free. Dollars previously set aside for debt payment can now be used to support current ministry and new initiatives. “Eliminating the debt will help us to continue the ministry that God has so richly blessed for us, including the training of pastors, teachers, and staff ministers, proclaiming the gospel in 23 countries in addition to our own, and providing resources and assistance to our churches and schools,” says Kurt Lueneburg, director of the Ministry of Christian Giving.
“This remarkable achievement, accomplished during a period of economic uncertainty, is truly a blessing for which we can be thankful to God,” says WELS President Mark Schroeder. “We humbly acknowledge that it happened only by God’s grace and by the power of the gospel working in the hearts of his people. Thanks to all who gave their gifts of love for this effort, and thanks to our gracious God for making it happen!”
A special celebration is being planned for the 2017 synod convention this summer. A prayer of thanksgiving is also available at wels.net/oneinchrist.
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Volume 104, Number 3
Issue: March 2017
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