This assembly report was prepared by Charles Austin, Elizabeth Hunter, Kathleen Kastilahn, Daniel J. Lehmann, Julie B. Sevig and Sonia C. Solomonson.
The churchwide budget plan for 2008, approved by a vote of 800-7, contains $81,670,000 for operations and $19,250,000 for World Hunger, representing a combined 0.75 percent increase from the 2007 budget.
For 2009, operations grow to $81,920,000 and World Hunger to $20 million, a combined 1 percent increase.
Prior to the two-year budget’s approval, ELCA Treasurer Christina Jackson-Skelton reported the church had “seen quite favorable financial results, including operating income, increasing World Hunger income and unprecedented giving to disaster relief” during 2006.
In fact, mission support in 2006 increased for the first time since 2001, she said. Mission support is unrestricted income from congregations through the ELCA’s 65 synods to the churchwide organization.
Further, 2006 witnessed “the largest single-year increase in World Hunger receipts since 1999” while 2005 and 2006 combined produced an unprecedented $46.2 million for disaster relief, Jackson-Skelton said.
More than half of the operating budget is spent by three program units: Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission, Global Mission, and Vocation and Education. The bulk of the World Hunger funds are controlled by Global Mission.
In a related move, the assembly voted 623-52 to accept the recommendations of the ELCA Blue Ribbon Committee on Mission Funding. Titled “Mission Flowing from God’s Abundance,” it offers materials for study and reflection throughout the church to foster a commitment to “vigorous mission-support efforts.”
Those include evaluation of stewardship education programs, examination of best practices for mission funding, leadership training and regular distribution of mission interpretation materials.
The assembly defeated an amendment to the committee’s report that asked congregations to share at least 10 percent of their mission support income with synods and the churchwide organization, and to work toward increasing that amount to 15 percent.
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