By Joe Isenhower Jr.
ST. LOUIS — During its May 16-17 meeting here, the Synod Board of Directors adopted a balanced national-Synod operating budget (or “spending plan”) of $81,762,189 for the 2013-14 fiscal year that begins July 1.
That action also gave approval to a contingency surplus of $51,612, and states that the Board allows “non-material deviations (defined as less than .5 percent of the total spending plan) to be made by the chief financial officer to set [the] final budget consistent with the intentions of a surplus/balanced budget.”
Added together, the 2013-14 operating budget and surplus equal $81,813,803 — the amount of revenue expected for the year.
In addition, the Board adopted a separate motion approving a capital-needs budget of $1,253,974 for 2013-14. Capital expenditures are charged back to Synod units.
The operating budget for the upcoming year compares with a 2012-13 operating budget of $64,626,022 that the Board approved a year ago.
However, Synod Chief Financial Officer Jerald C. Wulf and Executive Director of LCMS Accounting Charles Rhodes explained when they presented the new budget that such a comparison is not valid, since the 2013-14 budget includes some $13 million, primarily attributed to the National LCMS Youth Gathering and Synod convention in July — both of which occur every three years.
As he began the presentation, Wulf said the coming year’s budget “is a product of many, many folks working together under some very difficult revenue projections. … Thanks to all the unit executives [and] other Synod officers for providing input to help us put this budget together. I can’t express enough thanks to them.”
Synod revenue — restricted and unrestricted — is from a number of sources.
Total unrestricted (or undesignated) support for 2013-14 is projected at $18,075,000. Most of that — $15,434,000 — is from funds that LCMS districts have pledged to send on to the Synod. The districts’ pledged amounts are mainly from congregations’ worship-service offerings.
Among other actions at its May meeting, the Board of Directors authorized and approved the creation of a legal entity in The Republic of Singapore “to better support and facilitate the work of the LCMS in the Southern Asia and Oceana region,” according to a “whereas” of the resolution. Another “whereas” notes that such entities are “for the purpose of establishing, facilitating and/or operating foreign missions.”
At previous meetings, the Board of Directors approved the creation of similar entities in Germany and South Africa.
For the one in South Africa — known as “Concordia International — South Africa,” the Board during its most recent meeting also adopted a resolution concerning the delegation of authority to appoint that South African entity’s board members.
The Board approved appointments of individuals to fill vacancies on two boards.
For the board of directors — Concordia Plan Services and board of trustees — Concordia Plans, those elected are James R. Jaacks of St. Louis; George F. Nolde III, Richmond, Va.; Carol A. Reineck, San Antonio; Judy K. Stromback, Minneapolis; and the Rev. John C. Kaiser, Lapeer, Mich.
And the Board elected Robert Chappell of Southfield, Mich., to the board of directors of the LCMS National Housing Support Corporation.
The Board also approved several changes to its Policy 4.9, concerning the Synod’s Facilities and Services Management Board.
In his report to the Board of Directors, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison covered a number of areas — some of which he had reported at the April 27-May 1 Council of Presidents meeting in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Those included his thoughts on membership declines in the Synod and a call for more accurate and coordinated records-keeping in the Synod, as well as exploring ways of reaching the so-called “nones” who are not interested in organized religion.
He also noted that his office, through LCMS Church Relations, has “begun the initial steps of the mandated  study of Article VI of the Synod Constitution by opening a Web page devoted to the topic.” He indicated that “after further consultation, we shall commence in earnest in the next triennium as God gives and wills.”
Harrison touched on several points having to do with the 2013 Synod convention, including his three-part report — written in the Convention Workbook, delivered at the May 17-20 meetings of seven convention floor committees and his oral report at the convention.
“The Synod, dare I say, has never been so ecumenically engaged,” Harrison wrote in a section of his Board report that refers to the Synod president as “the chief ecumenical officer of the Synod.” Specifically, he mentioned recent and ongoing dialogues and discussions with several church bodies that agree with the Synod on a number of theological and societal issues.
He also made an observation related to the portion of Synod Bylaw 3.3.1 that states, “The president of the Synod shall … serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors of the Synod.”
“Time on the Board of Directors has been collegial and enjoyable. All members have functioned at a high level,” Harrison stated. “Handling of difficult issues, especially the merger of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., into Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., has produced a great spirit through trials. [BOD Chairman Rev.] Dr. Robert Kuhn has been a master of collegiality and wisdom in his leadership of the Board.”
This was the Board’s last regular meeting before the July 20-25 convention here, where several new Board members are expected to be elected.
The Rev. Dr. Herbert C. Mueller Jr., the Synod’s first vice-president, also mentioned Synod convention preparations in his report to the Board.
Among other matters he addressed was the work of the Synod Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry, which he chairs.
Mueller indicated that “at any given time, there are between 20-25 men in the process,” and that the committee has approved 43 of them in the 2010-13 triennium.
Several other Synod staff members also made presentations to the Board at the May meeting, in addition to other Synod officers who regularly report to the Board.
They included Mark Hofman, executive director of Mission Advancement; Denise Webb, executive director of Risk Management and Insurance; Concordia Plan Services President and CEO Jim Sanft; and Concordia University System Interim President Rev. Dr. Alan Borcherding.