National Lutheran News

ELCA withdraws plan to downsize

Outcry from members of nation’s largest chuch body caused the reversal.

The ELCA’s churchwide structure won’t be losing its boards and steering committees, and the executive directors of the 5.1 million member denomination’s two commissions will get to keep their jobs. At least for now.

A downsizing plan was proposed in an announcement made public on September 15. That caused unhappiness among many currently serving at 8765 West Higgins Road, along with those who serve on boards and steering committees which would have disappeared. And, an avalanche of e-mails flowed into the Lutheran Center in Chicago.

News that the plan was being withdrawn came on October 18.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America expects to receive $2.8 million less in 2004 than what is expected to have been contributed during the current fiscal year. By putting off a plan that would have trimmed the Chicago-based structure, the ELCA is most likely postponing instead of solving a spending problem.

Meeting with the board of the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO), Presid-ing Bishop Mark Hanson, who first offered and then later withdrew the plan, said he had received a significant amount of correspondence, both letters and e-mails. Said Hanson, “The volume of mail tells me people are very invested in the strategic planning process.” But, he said, it appeared many people were focused on the church’s structure rather than its mission, which the proposal was intended to address.

Hanson said most comments came from people who “vented” about the proposal, but few offered specific suggestions about it.