The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) held its annual meeting at the church headquarters in Chicago, Ill., Sept 30-Oct 4. The Bishops, who were able to hold discussions with the ELCA synod vice presidents, discussed past developments and future goals of the church both in the spiritual and financial aspect.
According to Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, the 2003-2004 fiscal year ending August 31 saw both good and bad results.
"This was a period of relative stability for the churchwide organization," Jackson-Skelton told the bishops and vice presidents. "This is a piece of good news that I am happy to share with you."
According to Jackson, receipts to the church increased from $42.7 to 43.6 million in the last year. Additionally, the total offerings received were half a million dollars higher than the projected budgets.
However, Skelton explained that despite the growth in income, the church was at a negative balance overall. expenses exceeded income by $1.9 million in current operating funds for the seven-month period -- a "seasonal norm," she said. Expenses were $45.5 million.
In terms of income in the form of mission support, the ELCA received $35.6 million -- $100,000 less than the last fiscal year.
Overall, Jackson-Skelton said the synods across the nation are running “pretty close to budget,” and that “"It has been a more stable period for mission support."
However, because the amount received by the denomination was only 91.4 percent of what was expected, the churchwide organizations had to reduce their budget several times and lay off personnel.
Upon hearing the report, the Conference of Bishops agreed to “encourage” one another to maintain or increase their current giving percentage for mission support.