“Stewardship Renaissance” — a term used by the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission — is starting well before the task force’s report reaches the 2007 LCMS Convention.
Among the developments is that the LCMS Board for District and Congregational Services is moving toward hiring a staff person to handle stewardship responsibilities. Rev. Larry Reinhardt, who retired as director of Stewardship Ministry last February, will continue to serve part time until a new staff person is in place.
“Right now, a number of people in leadership are very enthused about Stewardship Renaissance,” said Dr. William Diekelman, LCMS first vice president who has taken on “Renaissance” responsibilities.
He pointed to the Council of Presidents decision to hold a fiscal conference on Feb. 8-9, prior to its regular meeting. The districts will cover expenses for the conference.
“I’m not sure what the outcome will be, but my hope is that it’s what the task force has recommended — to determine the amount of unrestricted dollars to be provided for the synodical budget,” Diekelman said. He added that the task force envisioned that fiscal conferences plan three years ahead for the budget needs of both district and national offices.
Noting that unrestricted income to national offices has declined by about $1 million a year, Diekelman said the uncertainty about unrestricted income has frustrated budget planning for the Synod’s Board of Directors. About $22 million of the Synod’s current $88 million budget is comprised of unrestricted funds that flow from congregational offering plates to the districts and then to the national office.
A stewardship staff member and the fiscal conference are two of 11 recommendations from the task force that was requested by the 2004 LCMS Convention.
Diekelman said Reinhardt has proposed two stewardship education projects, which await funding approval from the LCMS Board of Directors. One is a multi-year project to train leaders to be “stewardship catalysts” in their congregations. Another project would prepare “stewardship advocates” to assist district leaders in promoting healthy stewardship within congregations.
“I take this as a sign of health and wellness in the LCMS,” Diekelman said. “I hope the people in the pew can gather the excitement. It’s not about money; it’s about our relationship with God — seeing the gifts He has given and learning how we manage them.”
Posted Oct. 27, 2006