Board Minutes - September 3, 2020


The LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors met on September 3, 2020 at St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Rocky River, OH. Usually, the Board meets at the District office, but it met this time at St. Thomas because this building was more conducive for Zoom and several directors were able to participate in the meeting on a Zoom basis. Another way of dealing with the coronavirus!

In our devotion we heard that when King Hezekiah was king, he became aware of the importance of prayer. Even though he faced distinct troubles by the Assyrians, he prayed for peace and justice and God answered him in dramatic form. In the same way, we can pray for God's deliverance and He answers us in His own way, dramatic or otherwise. After being strengthened through prayer, the directors were ready to participate in today's Board meeting. Here are the areas of District work that they considered:

A. District Personnel.
1. President Wilson noted that during the pandemic, the staff continues to identify key needs and opportunities for schools and congregations, and then they provide necessary resources.
2. Mrs. Karen Dutton has shifted from large gatherings for junior high and senior high youth to regional gatherings. The goal is to both attract more youth to the gatherings and make the gatherings as safe as possible.
3. Staff members Karen Dutton and Kevin Creutz continued to hold weekly meetings with the leaders they support and resource. This was especially important in this year's school year.

B. Congregations.
1. As of mid-August, all Ohio District Lutheran elementary and high schools were planning on holding classes in-person. In some cases, there are "hybrids" where students go to classes but also have some instruction online. Most, if not all, early learning centers were also opening.
2. Starting in September, seven circuits plan on meeting in-person, practicing safety protocols. Four circuits will meet via Zoom in September, although they could resume in person in the fall. The rest are not yet sure how they will meet.
3 President Wilson's goal is visit congregations again and to encourage them to keep expending the extra effort to make the facilities and experience as safe as possible while still working hard to meet in-person.
4 The Ohio District has seven churches calling full-time pastors at the moment. While COVID-19 still impacts the call processes across the Synod, vacant churches have begun again their active call processes.
5. All the 40-plus congregations that cannot afford a full-time pastor have at least pulpit supply, if not pastoral support during the week.
6. It was noted that the District Legal Counsel has developed a paragraph that should be included in the constitutions of congregations with a cemetery. The paragraph explains what happens to the cemetery, if the congregation dissolves.

C. Pastors and Church Workers.
1. Due to COVID-19, the All Professional Church Worker Conference conference was canceled. The staff is working on a way to acknowledge the ordination anniversaries, which are usually celebrated at the conference. The Presidium will discuss offering online education for the clergy.
5. The Lutheran Church Extension Fund and LCMS Disaster Response have established a program called "Soldiers of the Cross with a goal of raising $2.5 million for support of professional church workers impacted COVID-19. Grants are provided up to $2,000, with districts providing 20 percent of the grants for their workers. To date, fourteen professional churches workers in the Ohio District have received grants. These special grants will be available at least through July 2021, possibly December 2021.

D. Relations between Synod and District
1. Synod asked each district whether they intend to keep financial commitments to Synod for 2020. The Ohio District intends to keep this commitment, realizing that COVID-19 could impact our funding.
2. The District is exploring forming a partnership with the Michigan District for Intentional Interim Ministry. It would be a benefit to have more trained IIM pastors available for our churches. Both Districts would benefit from sharing in training.
2. In terms of the 2021 District convention, several initial meetings have been held to begin work on the convention. The Council of Presidents and the Synod have met to discuss contingency plans for next year's conventions. He has attended two training sessions concerning dealing with a district convention through the Council of Presidents.

E. Finances.
1. Mrs. Lisa Rachul gave the Treasurer's report and noted that Mission support is running 7% below the same period last year. This is a decline over period 6 which was 4.3% below the same period last year. She will continue to monitor this situation.
2. The District cash position remains strong and the District is not in fiscal jeopardy. At this point the District account shows a slight deficit, but since the District staff isn't using all its budgeted funds and their travel expenses is down, the budget still remains in tact.
3. In terms of a possible increase of the contribution to Synod, probably the District will not raise it to 21% this year due to the current trend in mission support. It will be at the Board's discretion about raising the support to Synod at the December meeting.

The Board intends to pray for the District staff, pastors, and congregations during this pandemic.