In early 2017, our Fort Wayne (CTSFW) and St. Louis (CSL) Seminaries suddenly learned Synod was backing away from $400,000 in budget commitments to help with the two seminaries’ ongoing expenses for Synod’s Global Seminary Initiative (GSI). With no warning, each seminary has to manage a $200,000 loss of promised financial support from the International Center.
Worse Than a Budget Shortfall, It Was a Broken Promise
All of us are familiar with budget shortfalls. They happen. But here’s the rub. Both of our seminaries have been participating in Synod’s Global Seminary Initiative knowing that money to assist them with the real costs of these programs is in the LCMS operating budget.
The Global Seminary Initiative Has Been Successful
Through the GSI, dozens of foreign students came to Fort Wayne and St. Louis to study. These students received various amounts of seminary subsidies. Fort Wayne and St. Louis professors traveled around the globe to teach foreign students in their own countries.
Our seminaries have been counting on $400,000 in the LCMS operating budget to cover part of their ongoing GSI expenses. But, suddenly, the financial rug was pulled out from under them. Without notice, our seminaries learned they would not receive the $200,000 allocated in the LCMS operating budget for each of them for GSI expenses after all.
Meanwhile, Matt Harrison’s Salary Ballooned
Meanwhile, the salary of Synodical President Matthew Harrison has ballooned. His salary of $210,156 in October, 2015 (https://blogs.lcms.org/2015/salary-information-oct-2015-3) jumped to $252,573 in November, 2016 (https://blogs.lcms.org/2016/official-notice-lcms-salary-information-november-2016), an increase of $42,417 – 20%. $42,417 is as much as some of our LCMS pastors, teachers and other church workers earn in an entire year.
Thankfully Our Seminaries Are Well-Managed
Congregations Matter applauds our two Seminaries for scrambling to adjust to this sudden broken promise from the International Center. It cannot have been easy. We thank the leadership teams of Dale Meyer and Larry Rast who have had to deal with the broken funding promises from Synod.
However, the mismanagement of priorities by Synod leadership puts the work of our seminaries at risk. Congregations Matter believes our Synodical leadership needs to change the way they are leading our Synod, or, we need to change our Synodical leadership.
You Can Make a Difference Now
If you would like to join the Congregations Matter movement, here are some things to do:
- Sign up for our email list and receive new posts from this site to become more informed on the issues.
- Make sure your congregation passes resolutions to district conventions and national conventions that support this effort.
- 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. Choose leadership in 2019 who will support the seminaries that provide pastors for our congregations, not use congregations to support them.