The ELCA's churchwide spending will be reduced by $2.4 million for 2002, reported Charles Miller, executive for administration and executive assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop, and Christina Jackson-Skelton, treasurer, in a July 17 letter to churchwide staff.
Two primary factors were cited for the 2002 cuts: economic influences on interest and investment income, which is projected to be $350,000 less than expected; and lower than anticipated income from bequests and trusts, $1.5 million less than expected. Only a small portion relates to financial support from congregations through synods, the letter says, calling it "the stable anchor of the churchwide budget."
Income projections for 2003 are also being adjusted downward by $1.2 million. Factors affecting the 2003 budget include increases in ELCA obligations for retiree benefits, insurance premiums, and staff, missionary support and pastor/developer costs.
Miller and Jackson-Skelton asked each churchwide unit to propose up to a 4 percent spending reduction in 2002 and a similar budget reduction in 2003. Miller said some units might choose to leave some staff vacancies unfilled.
At an Aug. 22 churchwide staff convocation, Miller gave principles to be used in making the reductions, including making "as few programmatic changes as possible, unless those changes are already in process for [other] reasons." Restructuring might happen at the units' discretion.
The major three studies — evangelism, worship and sexuality — will also work to underspend, Miller told The Lutheran. The studies use designated funds and are outside of the churchwide operating budget.
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