Congregations Matter will provide sample overtures for congregations, circuits and districts to consider in the coming months. The first of these overtures is about Synod finances. Click here to download a PDF copy of this proposed resolution. An overture is a proposal from a congregation to support or express concern about an issue, change a Synod bylaw or procedure, etc. Such overtures are presented at tri-annual conventions of your district or our national body.
Our recommended overtures will all be about important issues our Synod needs to consider.
Current Synod Leaders Ignore Convention Direction
Despite Synod Convention resolutions that require clear financial reporting (like 2010 Synodical resolution 4-03), the International Center shares little about Synod finances with congregations. Our Synod leaders say even less about Synod’s dire financial state. Here’s some examples of problems:
Did you know….
- In February 2017, Synod leaders reported to the Synod Board of Directors (BOD) we had 5 days of operating cash?
- In July 2017, President Harrison reported a $4 million budget cut from the previous budget — but the May 2017 Synod BOD minutes stated an additional $1million cut by Synod management?
- Also in 2017, Synod reneged on $400,000 promised to both Seminaries to support the Global Seminary Initiative (click here to see the Congregations Matter article about this)?
All of US are Synod, not just the people who work at the International Center in St. Louis.
The binding will of LCMS congregations can only be imposed on Synod leaders with convention overtures. Unless overtures are passed at the local level to change things for the better, we will not be able to stop the centralization of the LCMS into a hierarchical structure. That’s not what our LCMS forefathers had in mind when the formed the Synod. Congregations matter — and we deserve to be fully informed about what’s going on in our Synod, especially with regard to finances!
Your Congregation Should Act
Why are overtures important? What can these proposals from congregations accomplish? Consider this….
Despite several national convention resolutions over the past decade requiring the broad distribution of information about Synod finances, congregations are still being kept in the dark regarding the financial state of Synod. If congregations dig through LCMS Board of Directors minutes, some information may be found, but not much.
A small peek into our Synod’s current serious financial problems appeared in the July 7, 2017 Reporter, when Synod President Harrison referred to $4 million in budget cuts for this coming fiscal year:
The Board for International Mission (BIM) also heard about financial realities challenging the church body’s work as Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson presented their reports. Both spoke seriously about the efforts made by ministry leaders and departments to curtail spending and tighten budgets. Harrison noted that political unrest across the nation is affecting giving to many nonprofits.
“The financial challenge of the church weighs heavy on my mind,” Harrison told the board. “We’ve taken significant action and reduced the budget by $4 million while avoiding a reduction in force.”
Robson reported that a balanced budget was presented in May to the Synod Board of Directors, which approved it with the proviso that an additional $1 million be cut from the budget.
Synod Leaders VS Synod Convention Action
This is not sufficient information for the congregations of Synod. What is provided does not fulfill the requirements of 2010 Convention Resolution 4-03, “To Broadly Communicate the Statement of Financial Position of LCMS,” which reads in its totality:
“Whereas, It is helpful to understand the Synod’s financial position and communicate it to the members of the congregations of Synod; therefore be it
Resolved, That each November, the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer of the Synod use widely available means, (i.e., The Lutheran Witness, Reporter, the LCMS Website) to state the financial position of the Synod in a format easily understood by persons unfamiliar with financial terminology.” (2010 Convention Proceedings, p. 120);
God’s people need financial information so they can understand Synod’s financial position and support its work. If the current leadership of the LCMS chooses to ignore convention resolutions and hide information from the congregations of Synod – who ARE the Synod – perhaps it is time to change our leaders.
Sadly, our Synod has gotten away from its historic role and is more focused on concentrating all authority, direction, and control in the International Center in St. Louis and in the hands of a few. Along with that has come a lack of financial transparency. This is not healthy for our Church. The health of our Church is our local congregations.
Congregations Matter© stands with leaders and others who stand for the historic, constitutional and Confessional understanding of the LCMS. All of us need to remember the task of Synod is to support congregations in their local mission and ministry.
It’s Time for a Change
We believe it is time for our elected leaders to change the way they are acting – or it is time for us to change our elected leaders.
If you would like to join the movement, here are some things to do:
- First, sign up for our email list and receive new posts from this site to become more informed on the issues.
- Next, make sure your congregation passes overtures to district conventions and national conventions that support this effort. We must turn our LCMS leadership back to its historic role.
- Finally, elect local delegates to the District and National conventions who will vote for the primacy of congregations, not the primacy of the Synodical President and his administration.
And one more thing. You have the responsibility to nominate men and women to serve as our leaders in Synod. When it’s time to nominate a Synod President and others in 2019, let’s choose leadership that will support congregations, not use congregations to support them.