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



The LCMS Board of Directors met on Friday, December 2 to discuss important issues and monitor reports from President Cripe and the District staff. Here are the major items that were discussed that day. 

District Staff, Personnel, and Volunteers
+ The Board approved the renewable three-year call for Mr. Travis Gulke, District Superintendent of Schools.
+ The Board approved the appointment of Mrs. Bobbie Glotzhober, Rev. Richard Habrecht, Rev. Doug DeWitt, and Mr. Robert Reisenbichler as the four District Reconcilers. We now have four Reconcilers due to a recent resolution at the synodical convention.
+ The Board approved the nomination of Mrs. Ingrid Lewis, DCE from Bethany, Parma, to serve on the Board as Commissioned Minister at Large.

Reports from the President and District Staff
+ President Cripe presented much demographic information to the Board. According to the statistics, Ohio will experience a very low growth rate. Ohio's growth has been characterized as"sprawl without growth." We as a District should be concerned about this since Denominations have historically grown by births naturally rather than through evangelism efforts.
+ Mr. Kevin Wilson, Executive Director of Mission and ministry, reported that 13 congregations have received Outreach Seed grants. There are new efforts to reach out to college students at Bowling Green University.
+ Mr. Travis Grulke, District Superintendent of Schools, reported that he has visited many of the District school, led chapel occasionally, and also worshiped with their congregations. He has helped several school as they dealt with their teachers. He also works with state legislators, thanks to Mr. Gary Smith, our advocate in Columbus.
+ Mrs. Karen Dutton, Youth Ministry coordinator, reported that an increased number of youth attended the Senior High Youth Gathering. The Junior High Gathering will be held in March, 2017.

+ Mrs. Lisa Rachul, District Treasurer, reported that the District continues to show a positive balance for available unrestricted cash. District Mission Support revenue is trending close to the same period as last year. She has had a conversation with Sunset Memorial Park regarding the purchase of the District building. They have toured the building and expressed an interest in purchasing it, but it's a waiting game.
+ Mrs. Rachul also presented the 2017 District budget which was later revised. The 2017 budget is similar to the 2016 budget with 21% of the budget being sent to Synod.

The Board approved the constitutions of Reaping the Harvest Ministries, LCMS, Cleveland, OH and St. Paul Lutheran Church, Painesville, OH.

District Missions
The Board will ratify today the resolution which allows the Ohio District Lutheran Church Extension Fund (ODLCEF) staff to enter into conversations to proceed toward a merger with the with the national Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). This merger will occur in 2017.

Next Board Meeting:  Friday, January 27, 2017 at the District office, Olmsted Falls, OH