Board Minutes - June 21, 2019


The LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors met on Friday, June 21, 2019 for their regular meeting at the District office. Fifth Vice President Kip Smith led the devotion. Using John 13:8 as his text, he spoke about Jesus' words, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." He noted that when Jesus washed the disciples' feet, he wasn't just demonstrating the life of Christian servanthood, but He is especially revealing His authority to wash the believer clean. He is the only one we can go to for cleansing; He washes us from the stench of our sin and it is gone completely. As Christ's cleansed people, the Board directors were ready to take part. Here is a summary of the items that were discussed:

Healthy Congregations:
• In terms of congregational revitalization, the Ohio District staff is shifting from the Synodical program called Re:Vitality to using the Congregational Assessment Resource. (Pres. Wilson)
• Regional Facilitators have started working directly with congregations, meeting a wide-range of needs. (Pres. Wilson)
• The District faces an increasing challenge in finding clergy who can serve at-risk congregations; at-risk congregations usually cannot afford a full-time pastor. (Pres. Wilson)

Healthy Church Workers
• The Circuit Visitors took part in on-line training and explored why church workers leave the roster of the Synod. In addition, they examined practical steps to keep workers from leaving. (Pres. Wilson)
• The Care Partners have experienced an increase in the number of contacts from professional church workers, compared to the previous triennium. (Pres. Wilson)
• The Board heard a report about The Lutheran Mission Society (LMS). The Lutheran Mission Society buys loans from seminary graduates, consolidating seminary and pre-seminary debt and the seminary graduates then make repayment to LMS, often around half the amount of the former payments. Over the years, LMS has partnered with 20 pastors. LMS has lent close to $700,000, saving around $300,000 in interest. All the completed loans were fully repaid. Currently, eight clergy are partnered with LMS, including four from Ohio. The Board then decided that $25,000 be taken from the Thrivent Funds and be given to the Lutheran Mission Society.

Healthy Relationships between Congregations, the District and Synod
• The District staff has finished preparations for the Synodical Convention and the Youth Convention. (Pres. Wilson)
• The District has partnered with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund in training our Regional Facilitators in a stewardship emphasis called, "Consecrated Stewards," which is experiencing a kind of renaissance among churches in the Ohio District. (Pres. Wilson)
• Pastor Chris Eldridge, Ministerial Health Commission Chairman, and Pres. Wilson participated in a process about church worker wellness.

District Finances and Building
• Mission support for 2019 Period 5 is 5.6% lower than the same period as last year. This is the first period with a significant decline in this fiscal year. (Mrs. Rachul) However, the cash position is benefitted by an unrestricted bequest received in June and by the District staff's underspending of certain areas of the budget.
• The audit of the District books was finalized. According to the auditors, the books are clean and there are no adjusting or correcting recommendations. (Mrs. Rachul)
• Mr. Bill Fecht spoke about the recent Thrivent investment from the proceeds of the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund sale. Currently, the Fund shows a total value of $1,503,111.84 from both stocks and bonds. The Fund is a very flexible fund in case something comes up and it keeps expenses low. It started in 2017 at 4% increase and now shows a 6% growth.
• At this time the managers at Sunset Cemetery have indicated that they are still interested in purchasing the District building. They are reviewing options regarding the necessary changes to zoning. This Board is considering selling the District building because it is under-used due to the growth of deployed staff. (Mrs. Rachul)
• President Wilson presented his recommendation concerning Board Designated Funds. At this time the six Board Designated Funds were reviewed because congregations have not been requesting these funds often. Thus, five of the Board Designated funds will be combined into a single fund called "The Board-Designated Mission and Congregational Needs," including the BD-Ministerial Health, BD-Kirner Bequest, BD-Mission Contingency Fund, BD-Circuit Visitation Fund, and the BD-Congregational Revitalization/Dissolutions Fund. This fund would total altogether $350,000.
• At this point there is a concern about mission support for the District this year. The Northwest Region has received a great amount of rain so that the farmers are unable to plant their seeds. Since the Northwest Region usually gives about 28% of the District's mission support, this could be a year in which the District receives much less mission support from the Northwest. In addition the District is concerned that farmers often suffer emotional and psychological problems which could possibly lead to suicide. In addition, pastors may their own mental and psychological tensions and they show a tendency to keep this to themselves. Thus, pastors should be "listening posts" for the farmers facing such a crisis. Members of the Care Partners and members of Ministerial Health will also try and reach out to distressed pastors and people.
• District mission support faces another challenger in that the Federal government in 2018 had raised the amount for deductions so that many taxpayers do not have to claim their charitable donations as a deduction any more. Thus, it may be necessary for congregations to encourage their members even more to become committed stewards to the Lord.

Legal Issues
• Legal Counsel, Mr. Peter Hessler, accompanied by Mr. Aaron Hessler, reported about some significant legal actions for the District in 2019 involving individual church workers and congregations.
• Mr. Hessler also noted some periodic issues that have appeared on the legal horizon, including the consideration of policies for schools dealing with LGBT issues congregations with concerns about the issue of same sex marriages and related issues, and possession of hand guns by persons.
• Since the 2018 Convention ask the Board to establish a plan to deal with dissolving congregations with their own cemeteries, Mr. Aaron Hessler guided the Board to consider establishing a single member limited liability company (LLC) for cemeteries. Most likely, President Wilson and CFO Lisa Rachul would serve as the staff members for this LLC. At this point the Board established a sub-committee which would examine the purpose and necessities for establishing a District LLC for cemeteries.


The next Board meeting will be held on Friday, September 6, 2019.
Pastor Paul Hoffman, District Secretary