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Synod funding declines

Sunday, November 15, 2009

With less than three months left in the financial year, Lutheran Church–Canada faces a potential three-figure deficit even though the spending level is currently below budget. The news, delivered to the Board of Directors by treasurer Dwayne Cleave at its November meeting, will cause the board and synod staff to think about cost reductions for the next fiscal year.

Most of synod's funding budget supports seminaries, church work programs, overseas missions and the associated costs of communication, international church relations, theological and program supervision, and associated implementation. The funds come from congregations through districts for this work the church does together. If congregational “mission support” declines, there is less money for districts and eventually synod.

The treasurer explained to the Board of Directors that rather than a set amount designated to synod work, the East District sends a set percentage to Winnipeg. As mission offerings from congregations decline, the amount available for national and international work also declines. “We had expected a shortfall of about $20,000 based on the previous year's commitments from congregations” said Mr. Cleave. “Unfortunately that amount has ballooned to $60,000.” The treasurer believes this is the result of the economic situation in Ontario. In addition, the impact of the stock market downturn last year and the resulting increase in pension contributions has raised personnel expenses for synod. Currently, LCC employs four executives (president, treasurer, mission executive and communications director) and two support staff.

“The financial reality increases the importance of the seminary task force and we will also have to make some decisions that will reduce some services and what we are doing overseas,” the treasurer explaned. He expressed the hope that as the economy continues improving, congregations can fulfill their mission commitments to districts.

He noted that representatives of Lutheran Foundation Canada are working with members of LCC congregations who want to leave gifts to the church as part of their estate which will have a positive impact sometime in the future.

Before the Board of Directors meets to approve the 2010-11 budget, the staff and the board’s finance committee will work to assess spending cuts and apportion funding to areas of highest priority.

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