The LCMS Board of Directors met for its seventh regular meeting of the 2013–2016 triennium May 15–16, 2015. 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.
In his report, President Matthew Harrison offered positive comments regarding the Synod, stating that this is “a good moment for us, really blessed,” as evidenced by warm receptions and calm collegiality at district conventions and the growth of international mission efforts. Another group of 21 calls to new missionary personnel has been approved, and the Synod continues to receive numerous inquiries from people interesting in serving in the mission fields.
He also spoke briefly on a number of other subjects, including:
- Rev. Kevin Robson is being “on-boarded” as Chief Mission Officer with all anticipated to go smoothly as he brings to Synod leadership considerable background and gifts.
- Once again the board will be considering the approval of a balanced budget, thanks to the work of the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accountant and the very positive performance of development efforts.
- The celebration of the dedication of the Old Latin School in Wittenberg went well and was well received, it providing occasion for bringing together confessional Lutheran leaders from around the world representing 23 million Lutherans. The building, which will serve as an education center, is already booked to capacity until the end of the year. It will also serve as a meeting location for a church start by the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), a partner confessional Lutheran Church.
- The Communications Department of the Synod, always a recipient of awards, recently received a greater-than-ever number of prestigious awards.
- The outstanding effort by Bart Day as he filled in as interim Chief Mission Officer was called by the President a “lovely job.”
- The Synod is awaiting the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage, noting that this is a serious moment for the Synod as the pressure will likely be great for compromise. Assuming that the decision will favor of same-sex marriage, the big question will be what kind of provisos, if any, will be granted to churches, federal grant programs, etc.
Other business of the board included:
- Executive Director for Mission Advancement Mark Hofman provided a report on the work of his department, comparing his department today with one year ago and the positive lessons that have been learned. He also identified ongoing concerns that continue to be addressed and unveiled a draft of long range strategic goals over the next five years.
- The board approved a balanced 2015/2016 (FY16) Mission and Ministry Operating Budget totaling $81,865,893; capital budget requests totaling $1,085,127; and a 2016 LCMS Convention budget totaling $1,994,119.
- The board appointed Rev. Byron Northwick of Saint Ansgar, IA to fill a vacant position of the Concordia University System Board of Directors.
- The board appointed the following persons to positions on the Board of Directors of Concordia Plan Services and Board of Trustees of Concordia Plans: Philip J. Fluegge, Shelby Township, MI (lay position); Frederick G. Kraegel, Henrico, VA (lay position); Robert P. Lesko, Boonton, NJ (lay position); Mark E. Schmidtke, Valparaiso, IN (lay position); and Rev. Kory B. Boster, Sallisaw, OK (ordained minister position).
- The board appointed four members-at-large and three alternates to open Lutheran Church Extension Fund positions: Richard Boyer, Cedar Rapids, IA; Ronald R. Carnicom, Hackensack, MN; Howard Luehmann, Lewiston, MN; Rexford Umbenhaur III, El Segundo, Robert M. Zagore, Traverse City, MI (first alternate); Charles P. Olander, New Holland, IL (second alternate); and Erik Preus, Osseo, MN (third alternate).
- The board set the salaries of the officers of the Synod for the coming fiscal year, in general using the same 3 percent increase granted to other employees, with additional adjustments to align compensation of several officers with market variables, i.e., experience and tenure.
- Secretary Raymond Hartwig provided an overview of the regional elections nominating process, prompting a resolution by the board to encourage the Commission on Handbook to review and propose changes to current bylaws.
- Communications Executive Director David Strand provided a PowerPoint presentation identifying the many services his department provides, listing as his department’s goals the continued growth of Facebook use, the redesign of Reporter, the stabilization of the circuit of The Lutheran Witness, and greater intentionality in the use of video—all in alignment with the Synod’s mission priorities and in collaboration with other Synod entities and its auxiliaries.
—Raymond L. Hartwig, Secretary