From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Treasurer Reviews ELCA Financial Status

Date Wed, 13 Aug 2003 19:36:21 -0500


August 13, 2003

Treasurer Reviews ELCA Financial Status

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The financial status of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was reviewed by the ELCA
treasurer, Christina L. Jackson-Skelton, in her report to the
2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Fiscal news was positive overall,
but coupled with caution for upcoming years.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is
"Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     "The churchwide organization completed fiscal years 2002 and
2001 with an excess of revenue over expense in its current
budgeted operations," Jackson-Skelton said.  Since the report to
the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, revenue exceeded expenses by
approximately $3.3 million in 2001 and $800,000 in 2002.
     "Net revenue in excess of expense is important to us
financially because it builds cash reserves and gives us the
flexibility to support new mission opportunities and to meet
needs not anticipated or included in the normal operating
budget," said Jackson-Skelton.
     Funds totaling $900,000 million in 2001 and $1.4 million in
2002 were authorized by the ELCA Church Council, the interim
legislative authority of the ELCA, for items not designated by
the 2001-2002 budget approved by the 2001 ELCA Churchwide
     "Most of these funds were allocated for work requested by
the 2001 Churchwide Assembly," said Jackson-Skelton. Items funded
by such requests include $1.1 million over six years for studies
on sexuality and $450,000 over two years for development of a
strategy for evangelism. The Church Council also authorized
$400,000 for resources to help meet the spiritual needs of
diverse cultural/language communities and $350,000 for the "Stand
With Africa" campaign that funds relief and development in Africa
in the areas of HIV/AIDS, hunger and building peace.
     For the first time since 1994, mission support dollars --
unrestricted income from congregations given through synods to
the churchwide organization -- declined in 2002. In 2001,
congregations gave $69.5 million, but in 2002 gave $68.8 million,
a decrease of $700,000.
     "The trend of the past two years for flat or declining
mission support appears to be continuing in 2003, and projections
from synods for 2004 are again below expected levels," according
to Jackson-Skelton, who called this "an area of growing concern."
     Other revenue sources for the ELCA include financial support
for missionaries, income from bequests and trusts, and endowment
and investment income. Revenue from these sources also decreased
in 2001 by $2.9 million.
     "Many of our operating costs continue to increase, resulting
in the need to cut programs and reduce operations, including
staff," observed Jackson-Skelton. "Rising health costs are
significantly impacting the budgets of congregations, synods and
the churchwide organization." For the last 12 years, the ELCA has
met the goal of keeping expenses in line with revenue, although a
mid-year spending reduction of $2.4 million in 2002 was necessary
to break even.
     The treasurer also reported on contributions to ELCA
ministries not in the operating revenue and expense figures.
Contributions to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, which addresses
chronic hunger and poverty around the world and in the United
States, totaled $17 million in 2002, a "record year" according to
Jackson-Skelton. Lutheran Disaster Response and International
Disaster Response, which assists people in the United States and
internationally following a major disaster, received $2 million
in funds in 2002.
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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