Year of Jubilee offering Q&A
From the office of President Mark Schroeder
Last week, the Conference of Presidents held its regular fall meetings in Milwaukee. Among the items on the agenda was the Year of Jubilee thank offering. The presidents are encouraging all congregations within their districts to participate during November and December, the months designated for the celebration.
Many people, including some congregational leaders, still have questions about the offering. Here are answers to some of those common questions:What is the Year of Jubilee offering?The offering was authorized by the 2007 synod convention as a way to address our synod's $22.4 million debt. Every congregation and individual is being encouraged to participate in this offering.
How did the debt come about?Most of the $22.4 million debt is capital debt that has been incurred as a result of various building and improvement projects over the last 12 years:
* building projects at synod schools during the amalgamation of Dr. Martin Luther College and Northwestern College in 1995;
* heating plant at Martin Luther College;
* science wing at Michigan Lutheran Seminary; and
* dormitory addition at Luther Prep.
About one-third of the debt is the result of expenses exceeding support in the 2001-03 biennium.Most of the $22.4 million was borrowed internally (from various synodical funds) and was being repaid in a variety of ways and at different interest rates. In the fall of 2007, the debts were all combined into a single synodical debt. This debt has a single interest rate and is to be fully repaid in ten years. The combining of all these into a single debt enables us to present a clear picture of the debt, and it also enables us to reduce the annual payments required.
Why is it important for us to reduce or eliminate this debt? How will this help?There is nothing inherently wrong with borrowing or with debt. But the fact is that each year $2.7 million is budgeted for the repayment of this debt. The convention believed that this money would be better used if it were spent on opening missions and operating our ministerial education schools. If we can eliminate or significantly reduce the debt, dollars will be available to carry out ministry rather than making debt payments.
What is the timeline on the offering?The offering will take place during November and December of this year, but congregations will have the ability to be flexible in how they carry it out. Some congregations are conducting the offering over four Sundays; others are having a single special celebration. Other congregations will start the offering this fall and continue to encourage and gather gifts over the next six months. The offering itself will end at the time of the synod convention in July 2009.How will the gifts be gathered?Congregations have been furnished with offering envelopes for every member. These can be gathered by the congregation and submitted to the synod. Individuals may also send their offerings directly to the synod or give a gift online.
To access Year of Jubliee resources online, go to: www.wels.net/jubileeworshipHow will this offering benefit our shared mission as a synod?We pray that the elimination or reduction of this debt will enable those dollars now being used for debt service to be used to expand our efforts to proclaim the saving good news of Jesus Christ to the world. For every $100,000 saved, a new home mission can be established. Additional funds would enable our world missions efforts to be maintained and expanded. Additional funds would help to stabilize the funding of our ministerial education schools and to keep tuition costs from rising. In short, the less we have to dedicate to repaying our debt, the more we will have available to carry out our shared mission.
Why should I participate in this offering?Our purpose and motivation in this offering is not simply to be free of debt. Our purpose is to unite in the faith and joy that God has given us in Christ, walking and working together to proclaim the gospel to more and more people. We gather this offering as a means of expressing our thanks to a God who has given sinners like us every reason to be joyful. We trust that God will bless these efforts conducted in his name and for his glory.
Serving in Christ,