Board Minutes - December 4, 2020

SUMMARY OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ MEETING

The LCMS Board of Directors met on Friday, December 4, 2020 through Zoom in order to avoid the coronavirus.  5th Vice President, Rev. Eric Tritten, led the devotion. He noted that many regions in Ohio have experienced a growing percentage of covid cases. Many of the people have many fears and anxieties, so they reach up for something more. We Christians can deal with our fears because we have the Gospel, God’s message of hope and life through Christ. God reached down to the world and made His Son less to save us.

The Board then considered these areas of responsibility:

District Personnel

A. The Board extended the call for Kevin Creutz to continue as District Superintendent of Schools, since he has a renewable three-year call.

District Finances

A. Mission support is running 9% below the same period last year. This is a very slight improvement over periods 8 and 9 which were about 10% below the same period last year. The District budget benefitted greatly from several large gifts; otherwise, the 2020 Budget would have been worse off. The District cash position remains strong and the District is not in fiscal jeopardy. This is primarily due to underspending or the timing of spending in the areas of travel, grants, and student aid.
B. In terms of the 2021 Budget, the top tier of the budget consists of adequate staffing, mission support tithe to Synod, and mission work beyond ourselves. He could not find a way to propose a balanced budget and meet the top tier priorities. Thus, President Wilson presented an unbalanced budget. He met with the finance committee and decided to move forward with the unbalanced budget. The Code allows for one unbalanced budget, but the next budget must be balanced The Board considered the possibility of balancing the 2021 budget by staff reduction which may happen especially if the mission support doesn’t improve. In addition, the staff and Finance Committee will be looking at the budget in July to see if the mission support is getting better or getting worse. At this time, the support to Synod would be set at 10%; however, the Board will revisit this item toward the end of 2021 and if it discovers there is a surplus in mission support from the congregations, the Board will set the District’s giving to Synod to a higher amount.
C. In terms of setting the 2021 budget and the next budgets to come, President Wilson proposes that congregational mission support is utilized to fund the 2021 Budget. The Endowment Fund must be used for Mission and Ministry, wherever possible. Also, the District will draw from the Unrestricted Funds\Bequests to support staff and make possible transition to rental property. The Lutheran Church Extension Fund will be used to help with closing congregations. Especially with congregations facing pressures from the coronavirus, the District has to be careful with its own finances and monitor the total situation very carefully.

District Building
At this point, the Board gave authority to the Building Committee to negotiate with North Star, the owner of Sunset Cemetery, to see what it would offer for the District building. This sale became necessary because many of the District staff were not working in the building any more, but were deployed. Since, the District building needs some major repairs on the air conditioning and needs other projects, the directors voted to sell the building in the neighborhood of $520,00 and see if North Star will agree to purchase the District building. The District plans to lease a new building, so the Committee will begin searching for a suitable one soon.

District Convention
So far the dates for the 2021 District still stand, from Tuesday, June 22, 2021 to Thursday, June 24, 2021. However, the pandemic may cause some necessary changes. The CCM has already stated that the district conventions must be face-to- face and cannot be “Zoomed.” In addition, the district convention is supposed to hold a Bible study, present synodical report and provide special times for fellowship together, so it cannot be held in one day. At this time, there is a distinct possibility that some district can not hold their conventions in 2021, especially the districts on the coast. Therefore, LCMS President Matthew Harrison will inform all congregations that he will ask them to vote on moving the next synodical convention to 2023. It is anticipated that the vote will occur by late February. A simple majority vote of 25 percent of the churches in Synod is required to approve changing dates. If the necessary congregations approve moving the synodical convention date, Synod anticipates districts being able to hold conventions in 2021 or 2022. The District will need to confer with the Michigan and English Districts to see if they will move their conventions to 2022. Given our interdependent relationships as districts, the Ohio District may explore moving our convention to 2022, depending on the actions of two other districts. It was suggested that the Ohio District move its convention to a hotel in Columbus, but the congregations should be aware that the assessments to District congregations will go up significantly because the District receives savings from Concordia University, Ann Arbor, MI and from the Michigan District, especially in regard to electronic voting. At this point, President Wilson cautioned the Board to wait and see how congregations will vote in favor of the Synod changing the date of its convention.

District Missions and Ministry
A.. The Board has been working together with the CLAIM (Columbus Lutheran African Immigrant Ministry) Task Force which provides necessary assistance to a new District mission for Ethiopians immigrants in the Columbus area. Recently, the mission has met some major financial concerns, but the Board has determined to deal with the financial concerns and help the Ethiopian mission to go forward.
B. President Wilson also presented the Board with a demographic study in relation to District missions and ministry: 1. The state shows a slow growth in the next years with less than 2 percent growth a year, resulting in a population of 14,881,455 in 2024. 2. By 2024, the percentage of married couple households will decline from 65 percent to 64.2 percent, while both single mother households and single father households will increase by .3 percent and .6 percent, respectively. 3. In terms of immigration, there will not be a large influx of immigrants coming into Ohio. By 2024, about 94.3 percent of Ohioans speak only English at home. 4. Due to the pandemic from March through June, 2020, Ohio had 35 percent fewer residents move when compared to the previous year. In June, relocations started to pick up. Once the novel coronavirus was established, home sales dropped; however, housing sales have improved so that by October, 2020 Ohio had a 16.5 percent increase in housing sales. 5. Ohio unemployment is doing better during the pandemic: February: 4.1 percent, April 17.6 percent, June 11.0 percent, August 8.9 percent, and October 5.6 percent. 6. In term s of economic recovery, the most pessimistic view is that Ohio will take four to five years to recover; the most optimistic is a two to three year recovery. 8. From all respects, most economists believe that this pandemic time is not a recession, since many Americans are holding onto their money and will show willingness to spend when the pandemic is under control.