Board of Pensions trustees Minneapolis, March 1-3.
Discussed at length a 2003-2005 strategic plan for the board's work. Trustees will approve a final plan at their August meeting, reviewing a draft in the interim.
Approved the report of the trustees' audit committee, which met with representatives from the Arthur Andersen Minneapolis office that performs its audits. Andersen will complete the current audit, and the trustees will decide in August whether to retain Andersen as its auditor. Trustees raised questions about ethical issues, the public relations factor and the viability of Andersen as an auditor in the future.
Heard that the Special Needs Retirement Fund (for retired clergy who need financial assistance) is growing. More than 500 retirees pledged annual gifts of $180,000; St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Chicago donated $120,000 when it closed its doors; and a letter last year from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson drew $189,409 for the fund. Invitations will be sent to active pension plan members after Easter to make gifts to the fund.
Division for Congregational Ministries board Chicago, Feb. 15-17.
Heard from Kenneth Inskeep, director of the Department for Research and Evaluation, about ELCA trends: smaller congregations with fewer worshipers; small congregations, despite their setting, are losing members; smaller congregations can't afford a full-time pastor and the number of congregations without a pastor is increasing; regular giving is actually up and "richer" congregations are getting richer; large congregations are better than small at covering increased operating expenses; the number of congregations and pastors is decreasing; seminary enrollment is up; and the average age of ordination is 39.
Received an update from Marv Roloff, CEO and president of Augusburg Fortress, Publishers, regarding this year's operating priorities. To save cost, Augusburg Fortress will not bring a full display to each synod assembly as in the past but will display a broad and representative sample of books and resources. Most products will be available for order only.
Authorized the publication of "Principles for Worship"; a copy will be sent to each congregation for study and response. The document represents the first phase of work for Renewing Worship, a five-year plan for developing the church's next worship resources. The full document is available at www.renewingworship.org.
Division for Outreach board Chicago, March 1-3.
Heard a report on the ELCA's 33-member "blue-ribbon" task force, which will develop a comprehensive ELCA evangelism strategy. The first draft will be reviewed by the board at its fall meeting.
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