The LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors met on December 1, 2017 and heard first all Christians have many reasons to be thankful. Using Luke 17:11-19 as his text,, Fourth Vice President Andrew Norris spoke about the crippling disease of leprosy. The lepers not only suffered from their illness, they also had to stay away from their family and also from worship. Even though Jesus cleansed the ten lepers, only one, still a social outcast, returned to thank Him. We, too, are outcasts from God due to our sin, so we are thankful that Jesus brought us into His family and also into worship. Thus, the Board of directors began this meeting on a note of thankfulness. Today we considered some important items of the District business.

1. The Board approved these appointees for the District, as mandated by the Code of Regulations. a. Chief Financial Officer – Lisa Rachul; b. Legal Counsel – Wegman, Hessler & Vanderburg. c. Auditors for 2018 Financial Review – Internal Audit Department of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod; d. Committee on Constitutional Matters – Rev. Paul Hoffman, Mr. Thomas Moffitt, and Mrs. Jean Moffitt e. Ohio District - Lutheran Church Extension Fund Trustees (needed until merger is completed) Rev. Milton Berner, Rev. John Davidson, Rev. Ron LePere, Rev. Kip Smith, Rev. Jeff Stephens, Ms. Eileen Fitzenreiter, Mr. Mike Korba, Mr. Ryan Miller. f. District Reconcilers - Rev. Doug DeWitt, Rev. Richard Habrecht, and Mrs. Bobbie Glotzhober. g. District Endowment Committee – Mr. William Fecht, Sr., Mr. William Englemann, Mr. Chuck Foreman, Mrs. Eileen Fitzenreiter, Mr. John Schimmelmann. g. Church Dissolution Taskforce - Mr. Peter Hessler, Esq., Mrs. Lisa Rachul, Mr. David Bowers and Mrs. Christine Spohn. h. District Archivist – Rev. Paul Hoffman.
2. The Call Committee for the District Superintendent of Schools interviewed three candidates and decided with prayerful consideration to call Mr. Kevin Creutz to receive the call to become the new District Superintendent. Kevin is presently principal at Central Lutheran School in New Haven, IN. Kevin at first declined the Call, citing timing as a large factor in his decision, but there is a possibility that he may be open for a call at this time.
3. Rev. Kevin Guynn, chairman of the Performance Development Committee, noted that the Committee presented the proposed survey was presented to the recent Pastors' and Teachers' Conferences. Eighty-six church workers responded to the survey. This survey will be used to evaluate the District President and the District staff. The Committee learned much from this "practice evaluation and will continue to revise it before it is sent out.

1. Mrs. Lisa Rachul, District Treasurer, reported that Mission Support revenue continues to decline. It is 4.5% below the same period last year. If this trend continues, the 2017 mission support will be below the current year budget and possibly below $1,400,000. However, despite this decline, the unrestricted cash position continues to be positive with about 4.8 months of non-discretionary spending available.
2. Once the District has sold its portion of the Ohio State mission, the merger between the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund will be complete. (Mrs. Rachul)
3. In terms of the 2018 Budget, Mission Support was reduced to $1,390,000 due to current year trend. 2. The support for Synod was reduced by $76,240 to balance the budget. 3. Investment income from Thrivent account is included in the budget computation at an estimate of $50,000. The budget also reflects $100,000 for four missions, $39,500 for congregational vitality, $37,500 for mission training. 6. The Endowment Fund has released $55,000 to the mission and ministry budget. The Board approved this balanced budget. (Mrs. Rachul)
4. The Board expressed concern about the decrease of money given to Synod. It was decided that if any funds remain unspent from that budget, those funds could be used to provide additional support ro Synod.
5. President Cripe noted that the District has encountered no violations in terms of legal and governmental Matters.
6. There is a possibility that the District office will be sold and the District will rent a building instead, especially with the deployed staff. (Pres. Cripe)

Future Challenges
1. President Cripe reported that the Church is facing strong challenges, especially with the downturn of members in many congregations which could result with numerous congregations closing, merging, or becoming part of multi-point parishes. However, President Cripe feels heartened that more congregations are becoming engaged with their community and are sharing the Good News in words and actions. Our churches must continue to be faithful in the Word In addition, pastors may face financial challenges due to the recent ruling to end the clergy housing allowance
2. The Lutheran Church Extension fund (LCEF) has begun a process of reorganization as part of a cost-cutting measure as they are divided into three regions. There is a possibility that districts of Synod could someday follow in the same fashion. (Pres. Cripe)

1. President Cripe has been invited to teach classes for several weeks next spring in Ethiopia.

Board Matters
1. The Communication Sub-Committee has developed a Powerpoint program in which the individual Board member attend his or her respective circuit meetings and thank the churches for their support and hear any concerns and suggestions from the District. pastors. The Board directors see this programs as a helpful tool for communicating more with District pastors and congregations.
2. All the directors signed a document stating that they have no conflict of interest, as they serve on the Board. The Synod requires that directors sign this form annually.

Next Board meeting:  January 26, 2018 at the Ohio District Office, Olmsted Falls OH



The September 8, 2017 Board of Directors' meeting began with a devotion taken from Psalm 73:1: ""Surely God is good to Israel; to those who are pure in heart." (v. 1) Loneliness is not so bad when it alerts the Christian that he can't do it all by himself. Psalm 73 here speaks of God's gracious actions for loneliness. We Christians may find that "it's lonely at the bottom," but God is still with us, as Jesus went to the bottom Himself to bring us forgiveness and raise us up.

The Board heard reports and made decisions to further God's Kingdom in the Ohio District.

District Personnel
1. Pastor Kevin Wilson and Mrs. Karen Dutton are now certified trainers to guide District congregations through "Re:vitalization," the new Synodical program for congregational revitalization
2. Rev. Kevin Guynn and members of the District Personnel Committee have developed survey questions concerning the performance of the District President as well as the Executive staff for evaluation purposes. The Committee will present this survey at both the Pastors' and the Teachers' conference to receive their comments and suggestions.

District Finances
1. Despite the decline in mission support, the cash position continues to be positive with 4.8 months of non-discretionary spending in available cash.
2. The Synodiccal Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) checking account transferred the $1,414,661.70 to the Ohio District checking account. The Board approved a resolution stating that an investment account would be established through Thrvient Financial for these funds.
3. The Board suggested that the District should take a tithe (10%) from the LCEF money and give this portion to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and possibly to Lutheran World Relief in view of all the recent hurricanes. The Board also suggested that the remaining portion be invested in Thrivent or such other investment services company and the District would utilize the interest for congregational projects; however, if the right opportunity for a new mission or ministry should arise, the District staff could bring it up to the Board to consider using the principal for mission purposes. Thus, this investment would be flexible for District missions. The merger between the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund and the LCEF will be complete once the District has sold its portion of the Ohio State mission in Columbus, OH.
4. The District received extra money from a real estate tax refund of $44,965.66 from a former congregation.
5. Immanuel Lutheran Church, Youngstown, Ohio, was dissolved and its building sold to another church for $150,000. The Board decided that this fund should be designated as a Board-designated fund, and should be released to the Executive District Staff for the next three years to revitalize congregations and to deal with possible dissolutions.
6. Victory Lutheran, Youngstown, OH also voted to dissolve. St. Mark, Boardman is interested in keeping the food and clothing ministry operating. The property was deeded to the LCEF.

District Congregations
1. Several congregation have experienced growth, including St. Matthew, Huber Heights, OH St Mark, Broadman,, OH and Redeemer, Austintown, OH.
2. President Cripe has received several inquiries from congregations about affiliation with the Ohio District. One, in the Strongsville/North Royalton area, is an independent Lutheran congregation, while the other two, in the northwest region, have left or are leaving the ELCA.
3. Now that the District has joined the LCEF, it now has gained knowledge of their congregation evaluations which will be applied to congregations.
4. The District now provides 3-year ministry grant to help revitalize congregations. Pastors and congregations will find more information about this grant at the District website.

Upcoming Events
1. Preparatory steps are underway for the 2018 Ohio District convention to be held at Concordia University, Ann Arbor, June 28-29, 2018. The theme for our convention is "Immeasurably More," taken from Ephesians 3:20.
2. The Board is considering how to develop more effective communication between itself and District pastors and congregations. A committee is considering several possibilities.

Next Board meeting:  December 1, 2017 at the LCMS District Office, Olmsted Falls, OH



The June 16, 2017 Board of Directors' meeting began with a devotion from Matthew 9:35-38. Jesus says here that the Harvest is ready, but the laborers are few. These days the Church seems to be harvesting more people overseas, but what about the harvest here? This is not the time for us to give up, but we should still cultivate and plant. This is the time we consider using new tools for cultivating and "preparing the soil" for people to receive God's Word. Then the Harvest will follow!

The Board heard reports and made decisions to further God's Kingdom in the Ohio District until the Harvest –

District Personnel / Church Workers
+ Mr. Travis Grulke, District Superintendent of Schools, is preparing to become the Superintendent of Schools for the Michigan District. He noted several points about the preparations for his departure: 1. Mr. Kevin Creutz, New Haven, IN has returned the District's call to become the next District Superintendent of Schools. Since all principals have probably signed their contracts by now, the Call Committee should begin the calling process again in October-November, 2017. 2. Several District principals and teachers workers will help maintain the District's work with its schools. Travis' administrative assistant, Sara Krek, is well-acquainted with the necessary workings and documents for the District teachers and schools; she will provide the necessary guidance for the District schools this year 3. Mr. Bob Reisenbichler, a retired principal, will work with the state Department of Education. Travis believes that this group of educators will maintain well the District's ministry to the schools at least for this year.
+ Rev. Dr. Paul Hoffman has been appointed to serve as the District Archivist, replacing Rev. Peeter Pirn. (Pres. Cripe)
+ While the vacancy numbers are down to about 6, more retirements are on the horizon, resulting in more vacancies (Pres. Cripe)

+ Three congregations, Bethany, Erlangen, KY, St. Paul, Liberty, OH, and Concordia, Findlay, OH are taking up the process of revitalization from the Synod called Re:Vitality.
(Pres. Cripe)
+ Rising Hope, an urban mission in Canton, begun by Holy Cross, North Canton, baptized 12 individuals on May 7th. It was an exciting day, especially since the first group to meet consisted of three prostitutes, two drug dealers, and Chad Minor (now SMP vicar) and his wife. The mission meets in a neighborhood school with which they enjoy a very fine relationship. Young families and believers are mentored by older members of Holy Cross.
+ Ebenezer Ethiopian Lutheran Church has purchased their own building. They have been looking for new quarters for over a year.
+ Christ Lutheran Church, Cleveland, moved into its new building on Bellaire, which was given to them by the remaining members of Puritas Lutheran Church. Pastor Kavouras reports a remarkable spirit among the members, as they have refurbished and continue to improve their building.
+ President Cripe continues to monitor the status of Recognized Synodical Organizations (RSOs). He recently renewed RSO status to Luther Memorial School in
Cleveland and will consider other organizations for their RSO status.

+ Mrs. Lisa Rachul, District Treasurer reported on several items: 1. The District's mission support was down slightly compared to this period last year She will continue to monitor the budget. 2. The District's unrestricted cash is down slightly as a result of the payoff of the loan with LCEF for the Ohio District building renovation. 3 The merger between the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund (ODLCEF) and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) has been completed and now new processes are in place for the reimbursement of expenses. We received $25,341 a month as reimbursement for shared costs. The final amount to be returned to the District as remuneration for the merger is $1,414,661.70. The District executive staff is in the process of reviewing options for the investment and use of these funds.
+ Lisa is also negotiating with Sunset Memorial Cemetery concerning the possible sale of the District office. The local cemetery people are interested in purchasing the building, but the national office is lukewarm about this.

Board Actions
+ The Performance Development Committee of the Board plans to develop an evaluation of the District President using an experimental survey from Survey Monkey®. The Committee will present this survey at both the Pastors' and the Teachers' conferences.
+ Several members expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the Board's communication with District pastors and congregations. It was suggested that the Performance Development Committee craft a survey using Survey Monkey® which would ask District pastors and congregations their opinions about the Board's communications. Several board members will also meet to suggest some practical ways for the Board to communicate more effectively with its constituents.

NEXT BOARD MEETING: September 8, 2017 at the District Office, Olmsted Falls, OH



The April 7, 2017 Board of Directors' meeting began with a devotion about the Jesus coming to be our King. He fulfilled the Scriptures' statements about His Kingship and came to rule in our hearts. We should be careful not to try and be the kings in our lives because we only end up in sadness and depression. We welcome Jesus as our King with thanks and joy.

The Board heard reports and made decisions to further God's Kingdom in the Ohio District –

+ Mr. Travis Grulke has accepted a call to be Superintendent of Schools for the Michigan District. The board reluctantly accepted his resignation, but heard that a Call Committee has already been formed. Since principals usually sign a statement in May to remain as principal of a particular school, the Call Committee need to act quickly and call a new person to serve as our District Superintendent of Schools. Since a Board member, Mrs. Christine Spohn, serves on this Call Committee, the Board agreed that she could work with the Committee and issue the call in their behalf to call a possible successor to Mr. Grulke.
+ A Personnel Committee has been formed again to work with President Cripe. This committee will survey the District to develop an evaluation for President Cripe.

+ Mrs. Lisa Rachul, District Treasurer, reported that District mission support has dropped significantly from the first period. It may be necessary to watch the financial progress this year. In fact, the Board's Finance Committee will work with Lisa and make sure that the end of year financial projections won't go below 4 months of non-discretionary spending, based on the CFO's forecast.
+ She also shared some details about the merger between the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund (ODLCEF) and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. (LCEF) which occurred on March 31, 2017. The final amount of the net asset retention has not been determined but the range is $1,250,000 to $1,500,000 to remain in the District. The Executive Staff will determine how the District will utilize this money.
+ The Finance Committee met with the auditors for their report. The auditors gave a good report for the District books, but the District Treasurer should release funds for African and Appalachian missions automatically

+ Several congregations have become dual parishes. The challenge in all of these is for members to learn to work together and understand that it is unrealistic to expect full-time pastoral work at each location. (Cripe)
+ Several spring pastoral education opportunities are replacing the Spring conferences.
+ Several Executive staff members have Kevin Wilson, have received training for Synod's re:vitality process. All members have responded positively about the material.
+The Ministerial Health Committee held several get-togethers for the pastors' wives. Most had a small attendance, but they showed positive results. The next ones may include the principals' wives.

+ The District has a new ministry called "Comfort Dog Ministry." It has been discovered that when stressed, depressed people pet a dog, they feel comfort. Contact the District office to learn more details about this ministry.

District Schools
+ Travis along with advocate Gary Smith, has worked hard in Columbus to promote measures to help our schools. Currently, the Huffman Bill has been introduced which would significantly expand our voucher system in the state. He also opposes an amendment which would establish independent schools as 'accredited' and deregulated by the state
+ The District held two Early Childhood Workshops for workers both in the southern and northern sections of the state. 150+ EC workers attend the workshops. (Grulke)

Next Board meeting: June 16, 2017 at the District Office, Olmsted Falls, OH



The LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors met on Friday, January 27, for their first meeting in 2017. We greeted Mrs. Ingrid Lewis who was recently elected as our Commissioned Minister at Large, replacing Mrs.Kimber Walsh who took a call.

We began with a devotion by First Vice President Rev. Michael Saylor who shared a time in college when he became God's light when dealing with an unchristian professor.

The Board then heard and discussed these important issues.

Mrs. Eileen Fitzenreiter, the District Foundation Gift Counselor, spoke about her work. She once served as a banker, but now realizes how God called her to serve here. She noted that the LCMS Ohio District and its ministries have been blessed and will be blessed by the $31,755,184 from congregational support for the Foundation, not including special gifts given directly to other agencies and ministries.

Mr. Peter Hessler, District Legal Counsel, then spoke about the merger between the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund (ODLCEF) and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. (LCEF) This discussion of merger especially occurred because fewer District congregations are seeking loans from the ODLCEF. Also, congregations are increasingly facing economic struggles which could bring up concerns over possible delinquencies. The ODLCEF faces an aging investor base with no repopulating set of investors to replace them and so more investors may request their money. All these factors led to the discussion of a possible merger.

Mr. Hessler also spoke about the benefits which this merger will bring: 1. The District will carry out its church extension fund activities by partnering with a larger, stronger, more diverse, national LCEF program. 2. The investors of the ODLCEF will receive more protection for their investments. 3. The LCEF will employ representatives in Ohio who will serve as the "face" of the LCEF to congregations. 4. LCEF offers a fuller set of investment opportunities to investors. 5. The fund will operate more efficiently with a national base. 6. Assets of between $1,250,000 and $1,500,000 will be provided to the Ohio District for furtherance of its mission and purpose.
The ODLCEF will have to work out with the LCEF some practical concerns, including size of the staff, budgeting, and representatives in Ohio. Mr. Hessler noted that the ODLCEF Board has already approved the proposed merger, so now the Board of Directors needs to approve the merger. It was moved and seconded that the Board of Directors approve the Resolution establishing the merger of the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. The motion carried.

President Cripe in his report noted several points: 1. Faith, Mansfield will be closing and several congregations in the Youngstown area will consider merging. 2. The Synod has a new program called "re:Vitality" which will be developed in several congregations having difficulties. 3. The District is presently producing a series of 3-5 videos about their grants for congregations. 4. Rev. Mark Hill has agreed to chair the District Ministerial Health Committee. 5. At this point there are only 90 pastoral candidates and two congregation are applying for candidates. 6. At this time more church bodies, especially from Africa, have approached the LCMS for doctrinal and teaching assistance. 7. Two District congregations will call a candidate, but only ninety are available, so it's possible that only one congregation will receive a candidate. 8. The Vice Presidents are planning four spring conferences for the pastors, but each will be held on a different day, so it's possible for pastors to attend all four conferences. 9. Congregations can examine a booklet from Synod that explains the dynamics of church planting under the themes of witness, mercy, and fellowship.

Mr. Travis Grulke, District Superintendent of Schools, also made a report, He noted several items: 1.He has led chapel at several schools, especially at Lutheran West High School for National Schools Week. 2. Plans for the two March workshops for Early Childhood educatots have been planned: one at Royal Redeemer and one at St. Paul Milford. Also, the directors' conference has been finalized at St. Paul Painesville in June. 3.Huge changes are proposed in the state scholarship system; ones that would be a major blessing to our Lutheran schools. 4. The District recently hosted a Curriculum Mapping training for educators from around the state at St. John, Marysville. 5. Continued work is being done in the joint effort with the Great Lakes districts for a leadership training taking place in June.

Mrs. Lisa Rachul, District Treasurer, gave the report. She noted several items: 1. The Mission Support given through January 15, 2017 is 2.6% less than Ohio District Mission Support donations given through January 15, 2016 and it is below the budget by 2% 2. The District had a conversation with the management of Sunset Memorial Park regarding the purchase of the District office building. While the local staff has an interest in the building, the executive staff are not willing to make the purchase at this time 3. The auditors will be here for two weeks to audit the finances of the Ohio District and also the ODLCEF. She doesn't anticipate any problems.

The Board also monitored President Cripe's report about Financial and Operating Plans. They also reviewed the Policy Manual which discusses the relationship between the Board of Directors and the District President and staff. They emphasized the process of monitoring District financial dealings.

Next Board Meeting: Friday, April 17, 2017 at the District Office, Olmsted Falls, OH