These are challenging times for our nation and the world, certainly for the congregations, synods and churchwide organization of the ELCA. The great recession took a toll still being counted. The Lutheran saw the economic dagger heading toward the ELCA in February 2009 when a record number of congregations dropped their subscriptions. Then that figure was eclipsed this past January. It's only in the last few months that the situation appears to be stabilizing.
This financial churn landed upon the synods and churchwide organization in full force this year. Mission support from congregations to synods, and then to the churchwide organization, slumped, exacerbated by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly actions on sexuality.
As a result, the Church Council in August approved a $4.2 million or 6.1 percent reduction in the churchwide organization's 2010 budget (page 8). That was based in part on a drop of $3.7 million or 15 percent in mission support to the national portion of our church through the end of June. Sixty of the ELCA 's 65 synods forwarded less money for that period than they did a year ago.
To be sure, all is not lost. Each synod now has a director of evangelical mission who is assessing local need and opportunity. As you'll read in next month's cover story, diminished funds help bring essential mission work into focus, freeing us from the burden of trying to be all things in all situations.
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