Ready for the 2013 convention?

The Synod’s Communications team has published a report on the latest board meeting. You can read the whole thing but here are a few highlights of board decisions:

* St. Louis will be the location of the 2013 convention. The dates are July 20 through 25. The past couple of conventions had been held in Houston, Texas.

* The International Center’s Human Resources Committee was authorized to use or recommend (I wasn’t entirely sure from the report) personnel cost-savings such as hiring freezes, voluntary early retirement, reductions in force and voluntary furloughs.

* Close to $200,000 was allocated to stream classical and sacred music over the Internet. Funding is contingent, however, on receiving a business plan by the end of the month. Funds will come from the proceeds of the KFUO-FM sale. The funds will cover dedicated studio space, software upgrades, broadband costs, a program administrator, a part-time programming assistant, other voice talent and renegotiated music licensing.

* Some bylaw changes were approved. New language no longer specifies that “every congregation” is to receive printed Convention Proceedings. However, these Convention Proceedings must now be posted on the Synod’s web site. And all delegates will get printed copies. Another bylaw encourages congregations who are expanding beyond their district to discuss their intent with their own district officials and those in the area they seek to expand to. The expansion requires the concurrence of both district presidents.

* Last February, the board authorized spending $150,000 to look into a “world-class” attraction center for the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg. So the board looked at results of that study. Tentatively called the “Martin Luther Experience,” it’s format and approach would be similar to that of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The theme for the “experience” would be “Just by Faith … Just in Christ.” But don’t worry. Sam Nafzger says it’s going to be done right and give proper credit to confessional Lutheranism. Depending on the size of the project, it would cost between $17.2 and $36 million. Costs would be offset by a German government subsidy. A business plan was requested and is hoped for by the Board’s February meeting.

* Finally, Concordia Health Plans reports that they chose to have the “grandfathered plan” status under the new Obamacare, making them exempt from some — but not all — of the reporting and regulatory requirements introduced by the reforms. The law will limit CHP’s ability to change its plan design.


Comments

Ready for the 2013 convention? — 29 Comments

  1. “The International Center’s Human Resources Committee was authorized to use or recommend (I wasn’t entirely sure from the report) personnel cost-savings such as hiring freezes, voluntary early retirement, reductions in force and voluntary furloughs”

    Mollie,
    Some employees at the IC said that there will be “reductions in force” next week. It may be scuttlebutt and I hope that is true, I would hate to see reductions at Christmas. It would look like the holy week fiasco again.

    John

  2. If they are going to keep paying for classical music streaming, they should differentiate themselves and focus a lot more on sacred music. I would love for them to play the bach cantata for the week every day at a certain time, for example. Right now it doesn’t sound much different than what is free on Pandora. There is no good source online for streamning great sacred music.

  3. @JOHN HOOSS #2

    “It would look like the holy week fiasco again.”

    I see your point, but I also see some huge differences. There was no economic justification for the Issues, Etc. firings. There was also no warning. I think both of those exist in this case.

  4. @Cheryl Magness #4
    Some of the staff reductions were mandated by the convention, weren’t they?

    These days, staff reductions are less a matter of “whether” than “when”.

    [I notice that the Congressmen who think Social Security is a great waste have not offered to cut their own pensions (which are 3-5 times what I would get from SS, depending on which pundit is counting) and most of them have enough w/o their “government handout”.]

  5. @boaz #3

    > they should differentiate themselves and focus a lot more on sacred music.

    This has happened. The focus is classical, choral, sacred, and STL.

  6. The sacred could be emphasized a lot more. I listen to it all day at work, at least until they underplay baroque, then I switch to my bach/schutz/praetorius pandora station.

    If they pay a host, let’s get one who can explain the sacred music in its liturgical context and do more than just queue up something and read liner notes.

  7. @boaz #7

    I listen much of the day too. The mornings are heaviest on choral works. The morning host does know the works fairly deeply and does comment on them. All of the announcers are volunteers; all content is ‘programmed’ and I am sure they have to limit their time in the studio. With some funds they could spend more time on features and commentary. I also think they could continue with very little funding, but I think it would end up more like how they restarted in July, that is, essentially without any custom voice segments. They are asking for donations. I am encouraging people to trust the synod to disburse donations appropriately since the current administration has a sterling reputation in that area.

    I listened a lot before and there is absolutely a huge difference. I do not know any station right now that is anywhere close. I could not disagree more with your Pandora comment, except that you can directly influence your personal programming there. Maybe that is more appropriate for you than anything intended to be shared by a lot of other people. Many people younger than myself seem very inward-turned and are happy to do all of their own programming now (and equate iPods with radio stations) and many in their isolated ways of thinking do not ‘get’ the pleasure of knowing one is sharing a listening experience with a number of other people, whereever they are.

    Encourage the station to emphasize Lutheran Christian programming. Positive direct communication is the way to go. Thank them when they do the right thing. They played JSB Cantata 140 more than once in the last week. Who else did that?

    Contact every part of the synod about what they are doing. You know what? If you do that you will have disproportionate influence! We have to face these institutions directly and positively or else we are just a bunch of jerks posting to a blog. Trust me, you are mostly wasting your time if you only lodge complaints here. All of the liberals and lots (more and more) of the conservatives will tend to write you off, if they only hear from you on somebody’s blog.

  8. @Cheryl Magness #4

    Well yes and no. It’s still during a Christian holiday involving Christians no matter if it has been foretold. Just the anticipation of “who” is a wet blanket. I still say it is poor timing if true.

    John

  9. A hiring freeze if much different than a layoff. So I guess I’d like know more before I say too much.

  10. Holding the convention in St. Louis makes a lot of sense. Altho Houston was touted as the most economical when put to a vote at the 2004 convention (there were no competing cities), the final figures didn’t show any savings, as I recall.

    Not sure about the balance between broadcasting music vs. jobs. I agree that making staff cuts at Christmas time is worthy of Ebeneezer Scrooge.

  11. I tend to listen more afternoons so maybe I’m missing the good stuff. But choral and classical is not the same as sacred.

    When they play Bach’s cantatas, do they provide any reference to what its about or that its based on.thr pericope?

    I guess what I’d like is a program like JOY every day at a particular time, or for download, focusing more on teaching our liturgical musical heritage, and as an aid for devotional life. A program focusing more specifcally on Lutheran hymns would be nice too. And how about the daily chapel services from FW or StL or the concordias? For the money lcms is putting into it, 2 or 3 hours a day specifically aimed at the sacred is not asking too much.

  12. @boaz #12

    I guess what I’d like is a program like JOY every day at a particular time,

    I think we are on the right track and the same page. The person doing the morning and afternoon music selection for classic99.com is the host of Joy.

    I suspect that a number of hours of work go into creating an installment of Joy and it would be impossible to do a new one every day. Joy is played on both stations, though.

    Also, w/r/t choral vs sacred: essentially all of the choral music they are playing is of the sacred variety. I should have made that clear. I find the description ‘choral’ a little more reliable since I am not a great fan of spirituals and naive or unprofessional hymn recordings, and great recordings of hymns can usually be classified as choral.

    Please also note that KFUO AM is playing 2 hours of sacred and classical music from 1-3 pm every afternoon. http://kfuo.org It sounds better on the web than it does on the radio.

    KFUO also has made other salutary programming changes. Every morning there is an ordained man (usually a pastor) acting as co-host for two hours. In recent days Pastor Fred Baue, Dr. Jim Voelz and other cool dudes have co-hosted. Guests have included Dr. Al Colver, Mark Bender and many others. I would not be too surprised to hear Phil Magness and TR on there some day. The only CCM remaining is under the very capable hand and voice of Pastor Mark Hawkinson. Tom Baker is on 3-4.

  13. Moreover, I highly doubt anybody listening to KFUO could tell from the programming alone it was owned by a church, much less which denomination.

    Sacred music is theological, but nobody is explaining the theology taught by the music or what makes it sacred.

    That’s the problem.

  14. Wow, I will tune in more regularly if that’s the case. Must be really recent changes then.

    They need to put up a calendar to say when these folks are showing up. I’d like to have heard Pr Bauie. I’m very glad to hear that.

    I was skeptical because I made these complaints last year or so and one of the hosts blew it off with a comment about being a minority of the audience and needing to meet local expectations of what a classical music station plays.

  15. @boaz #12

    And how about the daily chapel services from FW or StL or the concordias?

    Why not put that on the radio station (KFUO) ? They have the same web reach as Classic99.com, plus radio coverage of 2+ million people in STL (daytime only).

    I would encourage you to write the STL seminary and the synod about this. It is arguable that they should have more involvement in the radio operation.

    One problem KFUO has is its daytime-only operation. There are FM HD channels available in STL; they are not ‘monetized’ at all right now; now’s the time to rent a couple of them. Lots of new cars have HD radios. Cars are about the only place people need radios now.

    One more thing. It is said that KFUO is the only Lutheran radio station in the world. Why are we not repeating its signal across the US? You can cover thousands of people in a town or part of a metro area with an FM repeater of a couple hundred watts. This costs only a few thousand dollars to set up, and very little to keep running (no staff — only contractors on demand).

  16. Glad to hear the convention is moving back to St. Louis. I was at the 2004 convention and the big nusiance was that the convention center was entirely union run, and so the local congregations couldn’t send volunteers to help, as this was trespassing on union labor territory. What St. Louis has in its favor is of course that its close to the international center, and the convention center has an excellent hotel across the street. St. Louis as a location in general is probably more convienent and economical for delegates I think they are more likely to drive there than fly.

  17. @boaz #15

    I was skeptical because I made these complaints last year or so and one of the hosts blew it off with a comment about being a minority of the audience and needing to meet local expectations of what a classical music station plays.

    Please note: I am talking about KFUO (the AM radio station). It seems to be getting some positive attention from the synod – all that was ever needed for the entire radio operation.

    Even faithful lay people who specialize in one thing or another (technology, art, education, classical music …) need accountability and positive attention. Don’t expect either the classical stream or the radio station to be perfect. Don’t expect them to tailor what they are doing for you the way Pandora does. If you contact them with an issue and they blow you off, call the synod, and report it fairly and accurately with RECONCILIATION as the goal.

    It’s easy to go totally negative on a blog without much opposition. That’s a trap.

  18. @boaz #14

    Moreover, I highly doubt anybody listening to KFUO could tell from the programming alone it was owned by a church, much less which denomination.

    Just heard another one from the National Lutheran Choir. There are several from them each day (always announced as such).

    That seems pretty unique to me.

  19. @mbw #13

    In recent days Pastor Fred Baue, Dr. Jim Voelz and other cool dudes have co-hosted. Guests have included Dr. Al Colver, Mark Bender and many others. I would not be too surprised to hear Phil Magness and TR on there some day.

    Charles Henrickson (one of the Brothers) is on live right now at kfuo.org (AM 850 St. Louis)

  20. Hmmm, $200,000. That figure sounds familiar from another recent artricle by Mollie.

    Nuff said, and let the reader understand. 🙂

  21. @Kebas #21
    Hmmm, $200,000….

    It’s a nice round figure… and maybe coincidental?
    If we saw the whole budget, would there be a few more estimates like it?

    @Johannes #11
    I agree that making staff cuts at Christmas time is worthy of Ebeneezer Scrooge.

    Layoffs were mandated in July. Would September have pleased you all more?
    [I imagine there was a list prepared when that clause was inserted.]

    Harrison might have had/wanted to make his own list.

    [We just got the list of 15 library people who took voluntary retirement (with a sweetener). Some of those had mentioned their intention to do so before the offer was made.
    That allowed the rest of the staff to think it can relax, hopefully till next fall anyway, as it was stated that no layoffs would be necessary for the present. The ones left only have to figure out how to divide up the work.]

  22. @Helen #22
    “Layoffs were mandated in July. Would September have pleased you all more?”

    Timing is everything. Christmas is a lousy time to make layoffs, mandated or not: No time is good, but I’d have to say that September is better than December in my book.

    Johannes (bah, humbug!)

  23. Convention in St. Louis?
    Ja, shure, you betcha!
    That way everybody can come to my house for a backyard BBQ and beer bust!
    Plus music by “The Dox”, “Al and the Barrytones”, and the presidential bluegrass band, which my parishioner Dennis Miller dubbed, (in a clever double entendre, since the “bishop” is centered at the IC) “The Purplegrass Boys”.

  24. @Johannes #23

    Fellow curmudgeon, normally I agree with you. But staffers knew back in July at the close of convention, and then reality hit with new leadership installed in September, that downsizing was coming. I know it feels bad and is upsetting at such a busy and hectic time of year with all sorts of holidays. But at least they had a few months to get their thoughts together. If they were not prepared for the eventuality, I have little sympathy for that. I do hope all are able to land on their fett and find new ministries to go to. And maybe with a new year, new opportunites may just open up.

    For a simple layperson out east, all I can do is pray for htem. but I will at least do that. In this fallen world, everyone needs God mercy.

  25. The rationale in the business world (been ’round this tree …as ‘baggage’… about every 7 years, till the ‘last time’) seemed to be that getting it done before a holiday would allow the remaining staff to come to terms with it and be ready to get on with the work.
    People who don’t get the pink slip often feel guilty about still having a job when friends get laid off. I can’t think of any good time!

    [I am going to miss some of the people who are leaving us in January, but a severance pkg. is better than “so long, we don’t need you.”
    I miss a number of others who left one by one in the last 5 years!]

  26. P.S. Have we spent this much bandwidth on a rumor… or was/is it a fact?

    (If a rumor, I apologize for contributing.)

  27. I brought it up and stated as such as a rumor hoping to see if it was untrue.

    I was just asking be cause there seems to be some angst flowing from the purple palace.

    I guess we will see this week…

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