The LCMS Board of Directors met for its tenth regular meeting of the 2013–2016 triennium February 19-20, 2016, in St. Louis. The use of a “consent agenda” again expedited the board’s conduct of its business by including routine matters that require board review or action under a single resolution adopted at the beginning of the meeting.
President Matthew Harrison spoke at length in his oral report of demographic studies that continue to be conducted, noting that it is now clearer than ever how our country’s birth rate has affected the Synod’s statistics. Were the Synod to out-evangelize all other groups, this would hardly begin make up the difference caused by the reduction in the birth rate. In his words, “Barring a national revival, we will not be able, humanly speaking, to evangelize our Synod out of its decline.” He emphasized that what the Synod can and needs to do nonetheless is concentrate on evangelism, healthy workers, and healthy congregations, including reaching out to non-Anglo people.
The business of the board conducted in open session included the following:
- Chief Financial Officer Jerald Wulf called attention to the January 2016 financial statement, noting that December, ordinarily a major month for contributions to the Synod, was disappointing in 2015, mostly in the area of restricted funds. Currently income is down $3.5 million compared to prior years. Any current budget concerns, therefore, have mostly to do with income shortfalls, not control of expenses.
- While elections according to regions have been well received since introduced by the 2010 convention, recent experience has shown that there are a number of deficiencies and opportunities for improvement to the current nomination and election processes. The board adopted an overture for submission to the 2016 convention to address a number of these issues, also advocating the inclusion of the Committee for Convention Nominations in the process of gathering and reviewing regional nominees, tasking them to create a slate of the most qualified candidates by using previously established processes for elections to other LCMS positions.
- The board also approved the submission of overtures to the 2016 convention to celebrate the 175 years of combined service to the LCMS of the International Lutheran Laymen’s League and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League; and to authorize the formation of a special task force to review the purpose and intent of the recognized service organization (RSO) program of the Synod.
- Executive Director David Strand of LCMS Communications Department provided a presentation to describe in general terms the manifold work of his department, ranging from managing the Synods Website and participation in social media (the LCMS has the largest Lutheran presence) to working with mission advancement to dealing with the secular media—all with an annual $3.5 million budget. The work of his department is “fed and directed” by the President of the Synod, who casts the vision for the church. His department’s greatest challenge is to reach more people (presently only about 15 percent of LCMS families are reached).
- The board adopted a resolution offering $4 million in support to Concordia College Alabama incrementally over the next nine months to allow the school’s Board of Regents opportunity to address the financial concerns of the college.
- The board adopted a resolution to amend its executive limitations policies whereby costs for fundraising and donor care will be allocated equitably and fairly across all classes of gifts and all ministry areas.
- The board appointed David Daniels of Taylorsville, North Carolina to fill a vacant position on the board of regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
—Raymond L. Hartwig, Secretary