WELS Synodical Council spring 2024 meeting

The Synodical Council (SC) held its spring meeting on April 26-27.

In my president’s report, I noted that:

  • Synod finances remain strong, with another year of record Congregation Mission Offerings and special fund balances all at a healthy status.
  • The newly established Capital Projects Fund will provide planning support for needed building projects at the synodical schools and will potentially provide support for servicing capital debt if needed.
  • Two missionaries have been redeployed from Thailand to Australia. WELS World Missions will also be working with a new Chinese congregation in New Zealand.
  • A special committee is working on plans to celebrate the synod’s 175th anniversary in 2025.

Rev. Paul Prange provided an update on the work being done by the Ministry Recruitment Task Force. The task force will provide detailed information to the district conventions this summer.

Rev. Jonathan Hein presented an overview of the draft of the synod’s new long-range plan, which is entitled “Christ through us.”

Several new office spaces will be created in the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, providing offices to administrators who need them.

The Administration Committee received reports from the synod’s subsidiaries (WELS Foundation, WELS Church Extension Fund, WELS Investment Funds, Northwestern Publishing House) and from various synodical departments (Human Resources, Technology, Communications, Ministry of Christian Giving, WELS Benefit Plans). Appointments to various board positions were approved by the SC.

The committee also received a report from the Compensation Review Committee, which reminds congregations that paying “synod code” includes full health insurance premiums, cash housing allowance, cost of living increases, and reimbursement for the self-employment aspect of social security. Before making any major changes to the compensation code, the committee will survey congregations and other calling bodies to determine how actual compensation compares to the synod code.

The SC reviewed the summary of FY24 financial results, noting that total unrestricted support is trending better than planned, while overall expenses are trending lower than planned through the first nine months of FY24. FY24 special funds reserves through March 2024 increased to $92.7 million, a $10 million increase from FY23, and a $50.0 million increase in the last five years, more than doubling special funds reserve balances.

The SC approved the support forecast for the next biennium (an estimate of the financial support that will be available to fund the synod’s ministry). It’s estimated that synod support levels will be $35.3 million in FY26 and $36.4 million in FY27. The SC also approved the initial planning assumptions, including:

  • Congregation Mission Offerings projected to increase 0.5% each year,
  • called and non-called worker wages to increase on average 3.5% in FY26 and 2.0% in FY27,
  • healthcare expenses to increase 10% each year,
  • no increase in retirement plan expenses in either year, and
  • operational/program expenses and school subsidy to increase 3.0% each year.

The SC discussed the continued progress that the WELS CFO, Mr. Kyle Egan, has been making in helping to improve the process for planning, organizing, and prioritizing capital projects for the synod. His office has started to have conversations with firms that could assist with comprehensive site-planning across all synod locations and will work with the SC Executive Committee with the goal of getting that process started in the next few months.

The SC received reports from Home Missions, World Missions, Ministerial Education, WELS Christian Aid and Relief, and Congregational Services.

Mr. Steve Hansen, Mr. Kennith Gosch, and Mr. Thomas Schermerhorn all completed 12 years of faithful service on the SC. We thank them for all that they have done.

Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder




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