From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Adopts 2004-2005 Budget

Date Mon, 18 Aug 2003 11:39:56 -0500


August 17, 2003

ELCA Assembly Adopts 2004-2005 Budget

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted budgets for
2004 and 2005 Aug. 16. For 2004, the budget was approved at
current fund fiscal year income of $84,310,000, and World Hunger
income was approved at $16,250,000. For 2005, the budget was
approved at current fund fiscal year income of $85,140,000, and
World Hunger income was approved at $16,500,000. World Hunger
income is designated for addressing chronic hunger and poverty in
the United States and around the world.
     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 vote on the budget proposals was 858 in favor, 95
percent; and 48 against, 5 percent.
     An additional measure adopted by the churchwide assembly was
to authorize the Church Council, the interim legislative
authority between churchwide assemblies, to establish spending
authorization after periodic review of revised income estimates.
Revision of income estimates based upon further development of
mission plan and strategic directions being discussed by the 2003
ELCA Churchwide Assembly is also expected as it affects the
churchwide spending plan, staffing and structure.
     Amendments to the budget were considered. A plea by Leon T.
Philpot, voting member, Eastern North Dakota Synod, to use up to
$1 million in income in excess of expected levels for youth and
family ministry was presented. "This is an investment, not an
expense," Philpot said.
     Linda J. Brown, chair of the Church Council Budget and
Finance Committee, Moorhead, Minn., was among those speaking
against the amendment, saying the funding approach is "not a
healthy practice in the long-run." The amendment was defeated by
a 77 percent majority.
     The Rev. Margarita Martinez, bishop of the Caribbean Synod,
presented an amendment seeking to promote awareness of the stated
ELCA goal to achieve full partnership and participation of
African American, Black, Asian, Latino, Arab and Middle Eastern
and American Indian/Alaska Native people in the life of the
church in budget allocations. The Rev. Stephan M. Kienberger,
voting member, Caribbean Synod, said the proposed amendment
"doesn't change the dollar amount, but is a message to the Church
Council." The amendment was defeated by 53 percent of the vote.
     Comments regarding the constraining environment of finances
preceded a comment by Earl L. Mummert, ELCA Church Council Budget
and Finance Committee, Harrisburg, Pa. "We across the ELCA act as
if we are a poor church. But the ELCA does not have an economic
problem," he said. Mummert reported that the 5 million members of
the ELCA have a combined income of an estimated $125 billion.
Members are giving on average 1.9 percent of their income,
according to Mummert. "We have a problem with commitment, not an
economic problem," he said.
     Three major purposes to which funds are directed in the
approved budget are 24.2 percent to vocation and leadership; 23.9
percent to worship and evangelism outreach; and 19.3 percent to
service and justice work.
     Significant expenses in the proposal are $37 million toward
financial support grants to congregations, seminaries, global
companion ministries and many other entities; $29.1 million
toward staff compensation; and $6.7 million to retiree health
-- -- --
Information on the 2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is available at on the Web.

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

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