By Joe Isenhower Jr.
SAN ANTONIO — The Synod’s Board of Directors, at its Nov. 21-22 meeting here, expressed appreciation for a presentation about Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s proposed sponsorship of a federally chartered credit union for LCMS congregations and their members, as well as other LCMS-related entities and people.
A statement prepared for the Board meeting’s minutes also notes that the Board “looks forward to continuing discussions in support of the initiative.”
The Board’s meeting and an annual joint session it held Nov. 21 with the LCMS Council of Presidents were in conjunction with the 2013 LCEF Fall Leadership Conference Nov. 22-24.
LCEF President and CEO Richard “Rich” Robertson spoke in detail to the Board of Directors about the proposed credit union — a presentation he gave two days later to those attending the LCEF Annual Meeting, which convened during the Fall Leadership Conference.
LCEF Board of Directors Chairman Randall Peterson also offered remarks to the Synod Board of Directors. In addition, several key LCEF staff members also were on hand for the presentation to the Board.
The credit union will be a separate entity from LCEF.
A Dec. 13 news release from LCEF summarizes the basic information in those presentations. That release announces LCEF’s “sponsorship of a federally chartered credit union [to be] focused on supporting and serving the financial needs of the members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
“In its October 2013 meeting,” the release states, “the LCEF Board of Directors approved the sponsorship and an allocation of start-up capital for the establishment of the credit union.” That board made this decision after conducting — along with LCEF’s senior leadership — nearly two years of extensive assessment.
LCEF board and staff members emphasized that LCEF would be the sponsoring organization for the credit union, and that this would be an opportunity to provide LCMS members, separately from LCEF, state-of-the-art banking products with superior customer service.
“The analysis and consumer data from existing LCEF members, as well as nonmembers, is very encouraging,” Robertson comments in the news release. “LCEF is pleased to act as a catalyst in this unique way to serve our church community.”
“It is anticipated it will require 12 to 18 months for the credit union to gain regulatory approval from the National Credit Union Administration and to implement the processes required to become operational. Further information will be shared as it becomes available,” the news release states.
Robertson told the LCMS Board of Directors that a credit union for LCMS members would provide a number of advantages, including:
- attracting younger investors. He said that the typical age of those in a credit union is “about 15 years younger than of those who currently support LCEF.”
- replacing secular providers, which would “provide outreach, messaging and stewardship opportunities,” particularly “messaging about proper stewardship.” Also, unlike banks and other secular providers, credit unions are exempt from state and federal income taxes. However, as with secular providers, all deposits to the credit union would be insured.
- “… lower-cost options for checking accounts for congregations and LCMS entities.”
- being federal chartered, Robertson said, credit union loans to rostered church workers could be offered nationwide, instead of to rostered workers only in the 16 states for which LCEF is currently regulated to provide such loans.
- “members’ money will be used to promote our members’ [LCMS] causes.” Robertson explained that the credit union’s income “will go back into the credit union for marketing,” which could include sponsorships of national and district LCMS events.
The LCEF news release points out that inquiries about the credit union may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other action, the Board of Directors:
- approved a revised Master Facilities Plan of Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.;
- appointed Robert P. Lesko of Newark, N.J., and Kristi A. Matus, Hartford, Conn., to fill two lay vacancies on the Board of Directors — Concordia Plan Services/Board of Trustees, Concordia Plans.
- reappointed Jerald C. Wulf to the position of LCMS chief financial officer for a second three-year, renewable term.
- approved extending the Synod’s registration to engage in business in the Republic of the Philippines.
- adopted several changes to its policy manual.
- approved use of a “consent agenda” to help with preparing items for Board-meeting dockets.
- approved its meeting dates for the current triennium.
In his report to the Board of Directors, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison noted that a number of new Synod task forces have been appointed, including those for studying the Synod’s call process, the various alternate routes for ministry, the service of licensed lay deacons, and for faithful witness by the Concordia University System. Also newly established is a blue-ribbon task force on schools.
However, Harrison said “the big issue before us is the [2013 Synod] convention directive on visitations,” which has led to formation of working groups on several aspects of visitation.
“This is very good for everybody,” Harrison said of the visitation emphasis.
He also spoke of several “very interesting developments … on the ecumenical front,” including interest among African Lutherans not currently in fellowship with the LCMS in closer ties with the Synod, and “a suggestion from Rome” to investigate the possibility of bilateral international dialogue between LCMS partners and the Roman Catholic Church.
The next meeting of the LCMS Board of Directors is set for Feb. 14.
Updated Jan. 13, 2014