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Dynamic financial environment for LCC seminaries

March 4, 2011 No Comment

by James Morgan

The final months of 2010 brought positive and negative results for giving to Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS) in St. Catharines, Ontario, and Concordia Lutheran Seminary (CLS) in Edmonton.

CLTS Acting President, Dr. Thomas Winger reports that in response to an appeal for debt reduction in August, September giving amounts were the highest ever. From July 2010 to January 2011, unrestricted gifts for general operating expenses are about five per cent higher than average, a trend expected to continue in 2011.

A $500,000 bequest to the Student Aid and Endowment Fund has caused it to increase by 50 per cent, meaning the seminary can provide more student aid in the future. The re-launched 1000 Club initiative has received modest response. CLTS received $40,500 in gifts and pledges, $13,000 earmarked for the foundation, and $27,000 to debt reduction.

“While we rejoice that God has been so very good to us this year, we must note that our debt will not be dealt with quickly, and it is important for our church to maintain this generous support,” Dr. Winger says.

The giving situation at CLS in Edmonton is less positive. Director of Development, Rev. Daniel Deyell reports the 2010 Christmas appeal was much lower than the previous year. Last year at this time the seminary had a positive balance of $198,000; it now faces a deficit of $148,000. “[E]ven though the seminary administration has drastically trimmed costs, and is generally under-spending, contributions over the last few months have not met seminary needs,” says Rev. Deyell, adding; “And since we depend on general donations for 65 per cent of our budget, a reduction of any giving immediately impacts our budgets.”

In response to the situation, CLS is sending a letter of appeal to LCC congregations and individual donors across the country. The letter, titled Support Your Next Pastor Today, states that while 15 men currently study at CLS, help is needed for them to “reach the harvest field.” The letter expresses thanks to those who have given in the past, either occasionally and regularly. “These gifts show many people care about what CLS does for the sake of the kingdom of God,” it says, before further encouraging donors, past, present, and future to consider giving in response to the current financial situation. “Simply put, contributions over the last few months have not met our needs,” it concludes.

CLS does not want to end the current fiscal year in a deficit position. The letter recommends three ways people can offer support: making a one-time contribution to assist with the current financial situation; starting a monthly pre-authorized debit to assist CLS over the long term; and adding CLS to a will.

Donors can support the seminary by sending a cheque, or making an online donation at www.concordiasem.ab.ca

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