ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 17, 2012
ELCA council approves 2012 budget revisions, attends to mission funding
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved a revised 2012 current fund spending authorization of $65,498,135, an increase of more than $1.3 million, and it approved a revised total ELCA World Hunger spending authorization for 2012 of $19,900,000, an increase of $1.4 million, when it met here April 13-15. The council serves as the ELCA's board of directors.
According to council member John Emery, Fond du Lac, Wis., chair of the council's budget and finance committee, "This is very good news. We are in a position to grow our ministries." He added that the increases are a result of good stewardship and faithful giving.
The Rev. Linda O. Norman, ELCA treasurer, said the revised spending authorization "reflects updates to financial reporting practices whereby changes to certain accounting and building-related services have an offsetting impact to both income and expense."
Norman said other changes include "increase in Mission Support and a decrease in the ELCA Missionary Sponsorship income projections. In relation to the income and expense revisions, direct churchwide organization programmatic expenditures remain at previously approved levels."
For the 2011 fiscal year, which ended Jan. 31, the ELCA churchwide organization's income exceeded expenses by $4 million in current operating funds, Norman reported. This is a favorable variance of $1.4 million from the previous fiscal year, she said. Churchwide ministries had spending at 99.6 percent of the approved spending authorization.
Most of the churchwide organization's revenue comes from congregations through synods in the form of Mission Support. Although Mission Support for the 2011 fiscal year decreased to $50.4 million (a $2.2 million or 4.2 percent reduction), Mission Support was favorable to budget by $2.4 million or 5.1 percent, Norman said.
The Church Council has responsibility for reviewing and taking action on synod Mission Support plans as an interdependent partner with congregations and synods in implementing and strengthening the financial support for the work of this church. At their meeting, the council approved revisions to 2012 synod Mission Support plans and initial 2013 synod Mission Support plans.
In a separate action, the council requested that the ELCA Mission Advancement unit provide resources to council members as they advocate across this church for sustaining and increasing Mission Support.
The council also established a process for the formation of a task force on mission funding, along with a timetable and process for reporting. The council appointed the ELCA presiding bishop and vice president to the task force, and it authorized the presiding bishop -- in consultation with the Rev. Jessica R. Crist, chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops -- to appoint a synod bishop, a synod vice president, a parish pastor, a Church Council member and a member of the churchwide ministries' administrative team to the task force.
The council's action comes as a response to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, which requested a proposal for a pattern or a set of patterns that will allow the ELCA's 65 synods to receive and distribute financial resources to support the whole ministry of the ELCA, and to build on the 2007 ELCA Blue Ribbon Committee report and include recommendations for "renewed, sustainable financial support" for this church, including funding for theological education.
In its action, the council requested that the Conference of Bishops receive a report and recommendations during its October 2012 meeting to ensure its fulfillment of the 2011 assembly's request of bringing a report and recommendations to the council in November 2012.
In his report to the council, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson said the ELCA has planted more than 60 new congregations in 2011. More than half of the new starts are in "diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual communities and communities in deep poverty, because we are heeding the instruction and invitation to 'go and tell.'"
Hanson said that ELCA members are not only engaged in starting new congregations "but we're about renewing congregations," citing an action of the 2011 assembly that calls "upon every congregation to be engaged in a process of discerning how they might deepen their commitment to engagement in mission, and to proclaim the gospel more clearly, (which) is not some command-controlled mandate for which there must be compliance." He said the action is an invitation on "how we more creatively and boldly proclaim the risen Christ and engage in the lives of our neighbors in lives of service."
"We are a church that is deeply rooted - and always being made new," Hanson said. "That is who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are a community of the baptized, who are sent with the good news into the world to announce again and again that Christ is risen, and then to be met by this risen Christ, who goes ahead of us to meet us in the most unexpected and surprising places."
In other business, the council:
+ Learned that the 2012 income goal for the ELCA Malaria Campaign is $4 million. A goal of the campaign is to raise $15 million and support the anti-malaria efforts of Lutheran churches and organizations in eleven African countries.
+ Elected the Rev. Joyce M. Graue, Raymond, Minn., to the council for a term ending in 2013.
+ Adopted an interim process for undertaking corporate social responsibility work and approved a series of documents to serve as a basis for that work in this church.
+ Acknowledged the dissolution of the Lutheran Youth Organization and received a plan for new directions in ELCA youth ministry.
+ Delegated to the council's executive committee to review previous practices and propose a process that would provide opportunities for discernment by the whole church, particularly voting members at assemblies, in anticipation of officer elections. The 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is expected to elect a presiding bishop and secretary.
+ Responded to a resolution from the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod on human rights violations against the Oromo people, and to a resolution from the ELCA Southwest California Synod on the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formally the School of the Americas).
The council also received reports from officers and churchwide ministry leaders; a primer on ecumenism and communal discernment; a greeting from the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; and greetings from a number of the ELCA's full communion partners.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Members of the ELCA believe that they are freed in Christ to serve and love their neighbor. With their hands, they do God's work of restoring and reconciling communities in Jesus' name throughout the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com