In 2001, the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod received $1.2 billion in congregational gifts, about $12 million less than the previous year, reports the LCMS Reporter (September 2002).
Congregations had $9 million less in 2001 for their own work and sent $2 million less to outside causes, including LCMS districts.
Suggesting that revisions to a synod reporting form may be a factor in the drops, synod research analyst John O'Hara warned members against "drawing firm conclusions." He said trends wouldn't start to show until next year. O'Hara also didn't want to attribute the drops to economic downturns last year or redirection of gifts away from congregations to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Congregational gifts for 2000 were actually $119 million more than in 1999.
To help offset $9.1 million in budget cuts, the church's national office offered early retirement packages in 2002 to employees aged 55 and older. The national office also budgeted less for its universities and seminaries, church plants, conferences, ministry to the blind, missionary training and its monthly newspaper, The Reporter.
In other statistics, the church had a baptized membership of 2,540,045 in 2001, down slightly from the previous year. It also had an all-time high enrollment of 17,042 students for fall 2002 at two seminaries and the 10 schools in its Concordia University System — an almost 16 percent increase over the last five years.
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