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Current budgets cause concern for seminary task force

July 22, 2010 4 Comments

“We’re at the point where recommendations are becoming clearer,” reported Rev. Nolan Astley to Lutheran Church–Canada’s Board of Directors. Rev. Astley is chairman of the Task Force on Cost-Efficient and Sustainable Seminary Education. His report summarized the most recent meetings of the task force in April and June.

In its interim report, the task force presented the Board of Directors with two recommendations. Since the financial state of both seminaries is of concern to the task force, it recommended LCC’s Board of Directors ask the seminaries’ Boards of Regents to produce and adopt realistic budgets that avoid any further deficits and to clear from their books any accumulated debt before June 2011.

Other the past years, Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton has balanced its budgets from reserve funds, which are now depleted. In St. Catharines, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary has an accumulated debt of more than $738,000 upon which it is only paying interest. Rev. Astley explained that “any new proposals for seminary education in Canada need to begin with a clean financial slate.”

While retiring an operating debt is not easy, the task force believes the Lord will move His people to provide the funds.

The task force also recommended that Synod review Chapter 6 of the LCC Handbook which deals with colleges and seminaries. It believes there needs to be clarification of the relationship between the LCC’s Board of Directors and the institutions’ Boards of Regents.

Pastor Astley concluded his report by stating that “our seminaries remain integral to the mission of the Synod and the task force looks forward to tabling proposals that will enhance this work and lead to the development of a renewed vision for confessional Lutheran seminary education in Canada.”

The task force will meet in Winnipeg August 31-September 1 with the goal of presenting proposals to the Board of Directors at its November meeting.

4 Comments »

  • Rev. Jason Kouri said:

    Tell me, is it good stewardship to accumulate a debt of 738 000$ for a non-profit institution like my Alma Mater, Concordia St. Catharines? Isn’t it a red flag that somehow were not doing things right?
    A small seminary like this that manages to accumulate such a debt while we have another seminary of comparable size that did not. Can’t we just use common sense and face the fact that asking the people of God to give 738 000$ to a seminary while it has another without debt and while congregations struggle to pay their own pastors… isn’t it asking too much and pushing it?
    Having two seminaries is nowhere in the Lutheran Confessions! Don’t give me this regional thing. I am from Quebec, and I was ready to go anywhere in North America to study our blessed Lutheran theology, and I now fly to St. Louis, to take Seminars. The Bible is the Bible, whether in St. Catharines, Edmonton, or Quebec city!
    God bless the task force for stating that we need seminaries or seminary with a clean financial state.

    Pastor Jason Kouri, Military Chaplain
    Bachelor in Business Administration
    Master of Divinity, Concordia, St. Catharines, On

  • Seminarian Jeremy Richert said:

    In response to Rev. Kouri,
    If you`ll notice the article stated that CLS Edmonton had balanced their budget by depleting their reserve funds. St. Catherines on the other hand has accumulated a large debt of $738 000 while keeping their reserve funds in tact. Please don`t be so quick to paint one seminary in gold while painting your Alma Mater with not so great of colour. Truth be told both seminaries have had trouble with operating funds and it is not so fair to simply state that Edmonton has done a better job by having no debt while they have used up all their reserves, while St. Catharines has maintained their reserve funds.

    Seminarian Jeremy Richert
    M. Div. Program (Second Year)
    Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines

  • Rev. Jason Kouri said:

    The article did not say that the St. Catharines’ Sem had a reserve it did not use. I did not realize it was the case. (if it had not been the case, the debt would have been a dramatic situation). Thank you for the precision. My main point is that the task force is right in asking that seminaries have clean slates. In my mind, that means no operating deficits. Then St. Caths can use its reserve to pay its debt. Now this kind of tells us that we cannot afford or are not willing as a Church to support financially two seminaries. I tend to think we cannot afford two sems (our Church is too small). I of course favour my alma mater! I loved my time in St. Catharines and I have never step foot in Alberta (I am probably missing out on a beautiful part of the country!). But common sense and good stewardship for the glory of God should prevail over emotions. Can we afford it? Or do we want to pay for it? are two simple questions, that will tell us what we should do. We cannot go the US way (higher tuition) of having seminarian finish with debts close to 100 000$… that would be impossible to repay… and jeopardize their family budget for years. I finished with only 15 000$ of debt, and I found that was much. Imagine 7 or 8 times that amount… If we want Pastors to be trained, we should pay for a good part of their training if not all. Ultimately the Church in convention will decide what it wants to pay for! It now has asked the task force to see how we can be financially reasonable.

  • LCC InfoDigest for August 16, 2010 « Lord of Life Lutheran Church said:

    […] In its interim report, the task force presented the Board of Directors with two recommendations. Since the financial state of both seminaries is of concern to the task force, it recommended LCC’s Board of Directors ask the seminaries’ Boards of Regents to produce and adopt realistic budgets that avoid any further deficits and to clear from their books any accumulated debt before June 2011. READ MORE […]

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