ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010

Started by Steve Ames, June 20, 2010, 11:23:26 PM

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Mel Harris

I received a letter today from the Oregon Synod Office about adjustments that have been made to the 2011 budget to bring it more into line with current income.  The adjustments include reducing the bishop and assistant to the bishop positions to 90% of full time (with corresponding 10% reductions in their salaries) and the elimination of one of the synod staff positions.  The letter also stated that the advocacy position in this synod will no longer be funded by ELCA ChurchWide and other sources of funding for this position are being sought.

These adjustments to the budget are being made by a synod that has not lost many congregations and has not had many congregations split.  I assume that some other synods are having to make more drastic reductions in their spending plans.

Mel Harris

Mel Harris

The Religion Newswriters Association has released the results of their poll on the top religion news stories of the year.  Numbers 6 and 7 on their list are:


6. Sexuality continues as a hot topic among mainline congregations. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA votes for the fourth time to lift the ban on noncelibate gay clergy; the presbyteries are again voting on it. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suffers scores of defections after its 2009 vote on the issue. The Episcopal Church is asked by the archbishop of Canterbury to take a lesser role in the Anglican Communion after a lesbian assistant bishop is ordained.

7. The prolonged economic slump spells trouble for additional churches and ministries. In the highest profile case, the Crystal Cathedral declares bankruptcy after downsizing efforts fall short. The Lutheran publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, drops its pension plan; Focus on the Family cuts 110 employees; the Seventh-day Adventist publishing arm removes top executives.

The release is posted here:



The Office of the Treasurer of the ELCA has just posted the 4th quarter reports.  They can be found at http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx (Sorry, I haven't learned how to do one of those neat little refer-to-a-site-with-just-a-word thingy.)

As expected, the financial slide continues.  The final income figures for fiscal 2010 are $66.8 million, down $9.8 million or 12.8% from 2009.  Mission Support for the year was at $52.6 million, down $7.1 or 11.8% from 2009. 
The one bright note is that January 2011 Mission Support was $0.1 million above January 2010 Mission Support, "breaking an 18-month trend of mission support decreases in same- month prior-year comparisons."  It remains to be seen whether this is the turning point for the precipitous decline in income or just a momentary hiccup in the continuing downward spiral.  With the number of congregations continuing to leave, I suspect it will be necessary to begin a new thread - "ELCA Fiscal Crisis contiunes into 2011."

Marshall Hahn

Dave Benke

Thanks for the figures.  The Missouri Synod's national "slide" was about a million after five fiscal months and some pretty serious cuts, but without really any parish defections.  Very few if any judicatories or denominations are in rosy condition. 

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

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