From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Cuts Spending, Staff, Programs

Date Wed, 21 Apr 2004 12:31:21 -0500


April 21, 2004

ELCA Council Cuts Spending, Staff, Programs

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) authorized the churchwide
organization to spend $80.4 million this fiscal year, down $1.1
million from the $81.5 million it authorized for 2004 at its
November 2003 meeting.
     As a result of the action, 20 positions in the churchwide
organization were eliminated, directly affecting eight employees
in those positions, and the funding for some programs was reduced
or eliminated, said the Rev. Charles S. Miller, executive for
administration and executive assistant to the ELCA presiding
     The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and
serves as the legislative authority of the church between
churchwide assemblies.	The council met here April 17-18.
Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 8-14,
2005, in Orlando, Fla.
     Adjustments to the spending authorization included reduced
churchwide unit spending of $3.0 million, an accounting
reclassification that increased both income and expenses by $1.2
million, and an increase of $.7 million for a new mission funding
initiative, said Linda J. Brown, council member, Fargo, N.D.
Brown reported to the council in her role as chair of the
council's Budget and Finance Committee.
     This latest spending limit was prompted by churchwide income
estimates for 2004 being revised downward since last November due
mainly to declines in mission- support income from synods, said
Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer.  About 80 percent of
churchwide unrestricted operating revenue is mission support from
the synods, she said.
     In March the ELCA Conference of Bishops agreed to
"encourage" each of the church's synods to maintain or increase
their current giving percentage of mission support to the
churchwide organization for fiscal 2004 and 2005.
     The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan
New York Synod, told the council that synods are experiencing a
drop in revenue, too.  The percentage of mission support from
synods to churchwide may remain the same, but the dollar amount
may change, he said.  Bouman is one of nine synod bishops who
serve as advisors to the council.
     The ELCA 2003 Churchwide Assembly adopted budgets for fiscal
2004 and 2005.	For 2004 the assembly approved a budget proposal
of $84.31 million in current fund income and a World Hunger
Program budget proposal of $16.25 million.  The ELCA's fiscal
year begins on Feb. 1.
     At its meeting in November 2003, the council authorized
spending $81.5 million instead of the $84.31 million budgeted for
2004.  That action resulted in the elimination of 25 full-time
equivalent positions, directly affecting 13 employees in those
positions, elimination of funding for some programs, and no pay
increases for churchwide employees, mission developers and
missionaries in 2004.
     No change was expected in 2004 giving to the ELCA World
Hunger Appeal, and the council left that program's spending
authorization at the $16.25 million budgeted for 2004.

Process to Address Mission Support Reductions
     In a separate but related action, the council asked that the
ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop develop and propose a process
to address the reductions in mission support.  It asked the
office to consult with the Division for Congregational
Ministries, Department for Synodical Relations and Conference of
Bishops in studying mission-support plans of congregations,
synods and churchwide units.
      The council asked that the process "reflect mutual
consultation, mutual agreement and mutual affirmation."  It asked
also that the office bring a report and possible recommendations
to the council's meeting in November.

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

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