At its June meeting, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Board of Directors cut the budgets of several synod programs to start paying off the $47.4 million capital debt accumulated by Concordia University System's national office.
Although $4 million had already been cut from the "unrestricted" funds in the denomination's budget, LCMS President A.L. Barry said the church would need to cut an additional $3 million. After cuts, unrestricted funds (mostly consisting of congregational benevolence dollars) came to nearly $28.5 million, placing the LCMS' total operating budget at nearly $82 million.
The budget decisions will mean staff and funding cuts for many LCMS departments, including the Board for Congregational Services, which failed to receive $600,000 of the $1.7 million it requested, and the higher education department, which will have $2 million less than budgeted for grants to its universities. Because $200,000 was cut from the LCMS communication budget, the denomination's national newspaper will no longer be mailed free to many congregational leaders.
According to its chair, Donald Muchow, the board of directors has been working to change its stewardship and decided to pay off the $47 million debt. "We weren't even paying off the interest [on the accumulated debt], so the synod's fiscal viability was in jeopardy," he said. Although Muchow said the denomination had made a "really painful" decision to no longer invest funds in an international school in China, he called the budget decisions "a real positive change for the LCMS — a change that gets our financial house in order for pressing mission and ministry into the new century."
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