May 16, 2011

Balanced 2012 Budget Approved

The Assembly approved a balanced $2.54 million budget for 2012.

After completing several years with deficits that depleted the Synod’s Fund for Mission and with a continuing decline in partnership support gifts from congregations, the finance committee and Synod Council decided to present a balanced budget for 2012, said The Rev. Christopher Weidner, finance chair.

“Many of you have expressed the need to address the continuing year-end deficits, and we’ve taken some steps together,” Weidner said. “It’s been painful and difficult … hopefully just for now.”

On the revenue side, the budget anticipates that partnership support income, which makes up 90 percent of the synod’s revenues, will not significantly increase from 2010 levels. Last year, partnership support income again fell below the total received in 1985. Partnership support as a percentage of congregations’ regular income was about half what it was in 1985, Weidner said.

To reduce expenses, the Synod eliminated two staff positions in March, and another staff position will be voluntarily reduced to half-time this summer.  Support of related agencies and organizations, other than the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and the ELCA, was cut.  For the fourth year, there will be no increase in salary or benefits for Synod staff members.

Bishop Burkat noted in her address Friday night that in 2003 the Synod had 21 full and part-time employees compared to 12 today, and had $500,000 more in giving from congregations.

The Synod Council decided to maintain contributions to the ELCA at 53.5 percent of partnership support income as a show of solidarity with the churchwide organization, which has seen a drastic drop in income and underwent major staff cuts last fall.  Support of the Seminary was not cut because it is a major partner in ensuring that congregations have educated lay and clergy leaders.