Same challenges, different priorities

March 29th, 2010 Post by

Yesterday I posted a quote I found from 1929. It dealt with the desire of some progressives to lose our hymnody. Well, here’s another awesome find from 1929. It’s a report from the Missouri Synod titled, well, “The Work of Your Synod 1929.”

As folks like to say about the United States federal budget, “a budget is a policy document.” It tells you what an organization’s priorities are.

So I thought it really interesting that some 84 percent of the budget in 1929 went to seminaries and colleges.

Also interesting, we had 730 ordained missionaries in the field that year.

And it looked like the Synodical President was rolling in cash — getting paid $4,000 a year. Which in those days was not terribly bad. But he also had to pay his own travel expenses and his own secretary’s salary. So at the end of the day, he made about what the top professors at the seminary did — $200 per month.

I found all this information over at The ABC3S of Miscellany blog, where the author notes that not everything is different:

In 1929, the Synod had a $751,000 deficit. Financial challenges are nothing new for the Missouri Synod. Nonetheless, in 1929, the Synod kept to its goals and borrowed money to support its mission.

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  1. Dennis Peskey
    March 29th, 2010 at 21:46 | #1

    A real interesting budget. Lots of money for missionaries and missions, lots of money for education and the seminaries. Couldn’t seem to find the line item for consultants??? How did they do this thing? It was reported the crusty, old conservative upon viewing this “buget” could only reply, “Manna!”

  2. Henry Bimpage
    March 29th, 2010 at 23:01 | #2

    What exactly does Synod, Inc. do with the money that is sent to it today?

  3. March 30th, 2010 at 00:31 | #3

    A billion dollars was given by the congregations all told, and 84 million got to the Synod Budget?, for fiscal year 2009.

    Very little, if any support worth the name, is given to the Seminaries.

    All of our Ordained Missionaries are being recalled or few are remaining.

    The Synod is being raised from the dead by Kieschnick and his cronies, as it was dead pursuing are old Doctrine and Practice, but now with Ablaze we are finally a living Church.

    Did Jesus enter the Temple and declare His church to be dead and therefore change the Theology of the Old Testament, of the coming and present Christ.

    There were many sects in his church and He joined none of them, but adhered to His Father’s teaching and Word which he heard from His Father.

    Christ is not many ways to God, He is the only way, as sacrifice and Atonement.

  4. March 30th, 2010 at 06:35 | #4

    Consultants? How about the Three in One and One in Three? To the apostles and prophets, martyrs and evangelists of old.

  5. Elnathan45
    March 30th, 2010 at 07:56 | #5

    To quote someone far more adept at putting spins of things that I: “It’s not your grandfather’s synod anymore.”

    And mores the pity!

  6. March 30th, 2010 at 08:00 | #6

    @Deacon Brian Hughes #3


    Does LCMS provide a Annual Report? I know the 2009 report for WELS was just provided to our congregations in a handout provided by Synod and also is available to all called workers online to share with the congregations, etc…

    In terms of support, 37% is gifts and memorials, 28% is from congregations, 16% from tuition, and the rest from fees, sales, bequests and others. Expenses were 39% to ministerial ed, 11% home missions, 13% world missions, 12% general admin, 12% subsidiaries, 9% publishing house, 4% parish services.

    Surely, LCMS provides information regarding how dollars are being used to it’s congregations. I find it difficult to believe that one billion dollars were given by congregations in LCMS. I base that fact on the LCMS being 6x the size of WELS and the congregational dollar amount in WELS is known for 2009 to be about $22.5 million, plus about $28 million from gifts and memorials.

    I remember at WELS convention in Saginaw, MI this past summer the men standing up for missions and ministerial education and finding ways to trim administrative budgets in order to support priorities. May God grant the LCMS the grace to do wonderful things this summer in its convention.

  7. Lloyd I. Cadle
    March 30th, 2010 at 09:50 | #7

    Deacon Brian Hughes # 3: Very good comments! Maybe LCMS otta put you in as SP!!!

    Perry Lund # 6: Thanks for sharing how the budget money is spent by the WELS synod. Also, in the new Forward in Christ magazine put out by WELS, our SP has some great stuff on what worship is in the church. It is in the March edition. It might be on the WELS website.

  8. March 30th, 2010 at 13:08 | #8

    @Perry Lund #6
    Perry Lund, I believe you will find these numbers in the Annual Report, in the LCMS publication ‘ The Reporter ‘, which you can access on the LCMS website, LCMS. org.

  9. Jan the Walther
    March 30th, 2010 at 13:12 | #9

    “A billion dollars was given by the congregations all told, and 84 million got to the Synod Budget?, for fiscal year 2009.”

    I’m not questioning your intent, but if this statement is true, then 916 million is unaccounted-for. Right? I inherited the right-brains, only…. 1,000,000,000 – 84,000,000 = 916,000,000

    … yeah, that looks right. Srsly? LCMS,Inc., can’t account for $916,000,000? If so, things are way worse than I thought, and more satisfied than ever that my decision to quit giving to anything Synodl-related is the right one.

  10. March 30th, 2010 at 13:27 | #10

    Jan the Walther: Faulty reasoning. 1 billion is given TO congregations, which pass (some amount) on to the districts, and then the 35 districts pass 84 million on to synod.

    It’s unclear from the figures that have been tossed around how much the congregations keep for local work, but I imagine it’s close to 900 million — 10% passed on to the districts.

  11. Justin Ohmie
    March 30th, 2010 at 14:58 | #11

    The billion probably refers to the amount given by members of LCMS churches to their congregations. The majority of this is to pay the Pastor and property loans. This is about $400 per baptized member per year, or about $8 a Sunday. The $84 million is what trickles down to LCMS, Inc. Ideally it would be spent on missionaries and seminaries, but for the most part, it isn’t.

  12. boogie
  13. March 30th, 2010 at 19:22 | #13

    Compare what was given to the Districts by the congregations and then what was given to the Synod by the Districts and then go back and compare that with what was done 40 to 50 years ago, in adjusted dollars, and then tell me about faulty reasoning.

    The reason we have such a high Restricted amount in the Synod’s Budgets over the years is because the laity got wise to the Districts using money that should have gone to the Seminaries and ‘ Ordained ‘ Missionaries was being siphoned off for District ‘Ministries’, that had nothing to do with what the money was really intended for.

    If you doubt this check out the District Budgets for the last 40 to 50 years and see how they have grown.

    District Office personnel is only one aspect of this growth along with their multiple ‘Ministries’.

    Come to think of it, why do congregations need district offices, so large and complex, in the first place, since they have morphed to a large extent into other than what they were intended to be.

  14. March 30th, 2010 at 21:06 | #14

    I downloaded the 17 page PDF and found it a rather obtuse document to figure out on the revenue side. The expenditure side was straight forward. I am now tracking what Brian Hughes is saying to some extent. I am some somewhat aghast at the lack of funding the ministerial educational system in LCMS. However, I am sure the issues could be complex if doctrine and practice are problematic.

  15. jim_claybourn
    March 30th, 2010 at 21:21 | #15

    I think it says about $225,000 to both seminaries (not each, but total), and basically nothing to the Concordias, other than guaranteeing their loans.

    Correct me if I am wrong

  16. Rev. Roger Sterle
    March 30th, 2010 at 22:39 | #16

    @Jan the Walther #9
    The 916–went to the support of the 6000 plus congregations, which is an average of about 146, 400 per congregation. This means that many congregations have a whole bunch more than that 146 thousand. The huge congregation in Wisconsin–Hales Corner??? probably has a budget of a couple of millions. Compared to other church bodies of similiar size–how did we do. Norm any answers??

  17. Henry Bimpage
    March 30th, 2010 at 23:21 | #17

    boogie, thanks for the link

    Here are some interesting figures I found in the $81,145,232 2009/2010 budget.

    Program boards:
    $3,315,026 for Fan into flames fundraising
    $3,350,394 for Pastoral Education
    $2,903,359 for District and Congregational Services
    $1,978,539 for Communications


    Synodical constitutional officers and administration:
    $1,384,022 for President and Vice-Presidents, and that is after a 32.5% cut from the 2008/2009 budget of $2,007,587
    $3,333,370 Total Synod officers and administration

    General and administrative:
    Accounting – $2,007,587
    External Audit – $57,000
    Internal Audit – $1,044,469
    Property and Insurance – $4,933,275
    Human Resources – $956,950
    General Services – $4,659,142
    LCMS-Concordia Technologies – $3,849,364

    Total for General and administrative – $18,827,454

    The LCMS has some mixed up priorities.

  18. boogie
    March 31st, 2010 at 15:09 | #18

    They went all out with sem. support, didn’t they? Keep “fanning those flames,” baby.

  19. Concerned
    March 31st, 2010 at 15:17 | #19

    It would also be interesting to see figures on what LCMS congregations, auxiliaries (like the LWML or individual Bible study groups) – and individual households contributed directly TO the seminaries, the colleges/universities, RSOs and organizations like the Lutheran Hour (beyond what they gave to their local congregation).

    Does Synod provide that kind of summary report? It would certainly give a person an idea of how blessed people in the LCMS are and what they return to the Lord outside of the normal offering plate channel.

  20. Helen
    April 4th, 2010 at 17:05 | #20

    @Concerned #19
    “Does Synod provide that kind of summary report? It would certainly give a person an idea of how blessed people in the LCMS are and what they return to the Lord outside of the normal offering plate channel.”

    Does synod collect information from the RSO’s etc., down to individual contributions?
    I sincerely hope not.
    But if they did, you still wouldn’t have the answer to your question.

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