February 24, 2010
Dear Leaders of the Northern Illinois Synod and Congregational Presidents, Vice Presidents, Treasurers:
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am writing to report that the Northern Illinois Synod Executive Committee recently made some difficult decisions concerning the Synod spending plan for 2010. Cuts were necessary because the Statements of Intent received from our congregations were about $400,000 short of the budget, which was approved at last year’s Synod Assembly. In fact, anticipated Mission Support for 2010 is approximately $194,000 less than last year’s actual income. I believe this shortfall in Mission Support is due to the challenging economic times in which we live and also because there are 15 congregations in Northern Illinois that have chosen to withhold Mission Support.
I give God thanks for the generosity of the vast majority of our Northern Illinois Synod congregations. For even during these difficult economic times, many individuals and congregations have sacrificed to keep their pledges at the same level as last year. Some were even able to increase their giving. Thank you for this encouragement and for your faithfulness in responding to God’s mission.
The cuts in our 2010 spending plan fall into four main areas:
First, we will make cuts in terms of the operation of the Synod offices. Sandy Musch, Assistant to the Bishop, has graciously offered to reduce her work to three-quarters-time during Fiscal Year 2010. We will not replace two part-time Conference Assistants to the Bishop. Office hours for support staff will be reduced. And again, as last year, all staff salaries will remain frozen.
Second, all Northern Illinois Synod Committee budgets will be reduced by 25%. This affects important programs of the Synod such as seminary scholarships, social ministry grants to congregations and support of the companion synods and congregations in India and Tanzania .
Third, our agencies and institutions will be cut by 25%. I have heard that some agencies and institutions are receiving direct gifts from congregations that are withholding Mission Support. However, in this time of great need, this cut still represents a significant decrease from our Synod budget.
Fourth, even though we will continue to forward 55% of our Mission Support for Churchwide ministries, the actual amount of dollars will be less. This saddens me because Churchwide has already been forced to make significant staff cuts, including in the Global Missions and Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Ministries units.
Finally, some of you may wonder if I am discouraged by all of this. Well, I must admit there are days. But, at the same time, I am prayerfully confident that the economy will improve, that congregational conflict will taper off, and we can soon concentrate more fully on the work that God has graciously given us to do. Most importantly, at the end of the day, I look to Jesus, the “founder and perfecter of our faith.” And I pray that, by God’s grace, we may fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith.
Bishop Gary Wollersheim
Bishop Gary M. Wollersheim
Northern Illinois Synod
103 W. State Street
Rockford, IL 61101
Phone: (815) 964-9934
Fax: (815) 964-2295