We are now able to report the results of the 2012 Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO), gifts given by God's people in support of our synod's mission and ministry. Those results are a reason to express our thanks to God who moved his people to bring their gifts of faith, as well as to the members of our synod for their joyful and generous response to God's many blessings.

CMO receipts for 2012 totaled $21,225,924. This was an increase of $724,000 (3.5%) over what was received in 2011. The total in 2012 also exceeded projections, based on congregation subscriptions, by $764,000. In other words, congregations gave 103.7% of what they had committed. All but two of the synod’s districts exceeded their subscribed totals. This is an amazing blessing, especially considering the ongoing economic challenges faced by congregations and their members during 2012.

This will have some very positive effects on the ministry planning for the next two years. While financial support from other sources (primarily from two foundations) are projected to be less than previously expected, the CMO results will provide additional financial support that will enable the synod to provide funding for mission and ministry programs that were previously unfunded. A number of options will be included in the ministry plan (budget) that the Synodical Council will present to the synod convention in July.

More financial blessings
Efforts to eliminate the synod’s capital debt of $22.4 million began with a special offering in 2009 called the Year of Jubilee. Gifts have continued to be received for debt retirement. In December, the total of those gifts surpassed the $5 million mark. Those gifts, along with annual allocations of $1.6 million from the synod’s budget, have enabled us to make significant progress toward final elimination of the debt. By the time the synod meets in convention this summer, the debt will have been reduced to approximately $8 million.

Once the debt is completely eliminated, $1.6 million annually will be available for the synod’s mission and ministry. The Conference of Presidents will be recommending to the synod convention a special synodwide offering in 2015 to retire the debt three years ahead of schedule.

Conference of Presidents
The Conference of Presidents (COP) met in early January. Highlights of the recent meeting include:

  • The COP reported pastoral vacancies in 30 congregations, six part-time (semi-retirement) positions, two professorships at synodical schools, and five other pastorally trained positions. The total number of vacancies is similar to previous years at this time.
  • Rev. John Braun of Northwestern Publishing House presented initial plans for marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and for the 100th anniversary of Forward in Christ. He also outlined initial plans for a revision of exposition of the catechism.
  • Extended a call to Rev. Jonathan Hein to serve as the first director of the Commission for Congregational Counseling.
  • Approved memorials asking for a change in bylaws to make District Councils and District Legislation Committees optional for the districts.
  • Approved plans by the Commission on Youth and Family Ministry to hold International Youth Rallies every two years instead of every three years.
  • Developed guidelines for called workers and congregations in the matter of retirement calls.
  • Received a report of informal discussions that took place between WELS and ELS leaders and their counterparts in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify positions in doctrine and practice and to remove misunderstandings and misperceptions that may exist between the church bodies.
  • Adopted a policy that teacher graduates not receive calls to a new location until they have completed their third year of teaching.

Update on the Synod Administration Building
A special committee of the Synodical Council continues to work to bring about the sale of the synod’s two office properties. Negotiations are taking place with two parties interested in purchasing the Mayfair Road property. One of those parties has submitted a formal offer, and an offer is expected from the other party by the end of January. It’s expected that one of these offers will be presented to the Synodical Council for a final decision in February.

There also continues to be interest in the Waukesha property, but at this time no formal offers to purchase have been received.

Administrator for World Missions announces retirement plans
Rev. Dan Koelpin, administrator for World Missions, has announced his plans to retire at the end of June. The Board for World Missions will be seeking nominations for his replacement in the coming weeks. Rev. Koelpin has served faithfully in this position since August 1997.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder