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ELCA Church Council approves use of gift

At its April 4-6 meeting in Chicago, the ELCA Church Council voted to place 25 percent of the $1.26 million sale (so far) of the Tonner collection of Bibles, books and artwork into a fund designated for support of regional archives.

Forty percent was deposited into the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia’s endowment fund and 60 percent was retained by the ELCA churchwide organization. Half of the latter was designated for the ELCA Fund for Leaders, while the other half was split between support for regional archives and purposes beyond the regular operating budget (e.g., additional seminary support).  

In other actions, the council: 

• Extended development of a social message on gender-based violence to its April 2015 meeting, and asked for a progress report at its November 2014 meeting. 

• Approved the bylaws of Lutheran Services in America, which allow “associate members” that can be other groups connected to the “Lutheran tradition.” 

• Revised personnel policies and expectations for ELCA Global Mission personnel.

• Received a final report from Living Into the Future Together (LIFT), a committee that evaluated the ELCA’s response to sweeping economic and social changes in the last 25 years, and made recommendations approved by the 2011 Churchwide Assembly.

Those recommendations include urging each congregation to develop a mission plan, restructuring the churchwide organization, moving to triennial rather than biennial churchwide assemblies, seeking new ways for discerning the church’s stance on social issues, and temporarily expanding the Church Council from 33 to 45-plus members.   

• Heard that ELCA operating income ($72.3 million) for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2014, was $2.9 million ahead of $69.4 million in expenses, but $4.1 million behind the previous year. Mission support — income from congregations through synods — stood at $48.8 million, $1.1 million below the previous year.

“We’ve come out of those years of steep decline, but we are still in a period of relative decline,” ELCA Treasurer Linda Norman said.


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