Board Minutes - September 17, 2021

THE CALL TO ORDER
The September 17, 2021 meeting of the LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors was called to order at 10:12A.M. by Chairman Gary Dowdell, Sr. All of the directors were present, except for Mr. Tim Kollmorgan, and Mrs. Ingrid Lewis, who offered excuses. Mrs. Lisa Rachul, District Treasurer and Mr. Peter A. Hessler, Esq., District Legal Counsel were also present.

TODAY’S DEVOTION
Fourth Vice President Eric Tritten led the devotion, based on Psalm 121. He said that the covid mask is an interesting image for today as it masks our fears, but deep inside we know that we’re fearful. Jesus came for us and died on the cross to open us up to His light and thus give us hope. With Christ’s hope in us, we replace our fears for His true hope which comes to us. Eric concluded his devotion with his own poem and he led us in prayer.

SPECIAL WELCOME
At this time Chairman Dowdell welcomed our two guests, First Vice President of Synod, Rev. Peter K. Lange and Fifth Vice President of Synod, Rev. Christopher Esget

AGENDA FOR THE DAY
Chairman Dowdell presented the Agenda for the day.

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
By common consent, the directors approved both the Minutes and the Agenda for
the Day.

DISTRICT COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL MATTERS (CCM)
Rev. Dr. Paul Hoffman, Chairman of the District CCM, stated that there are several congregational constitutions for the Board to approve today, namely, Emmanuel, Lancaster, OH, Risen Christ, Springfield, OH, and St. John, Garfield Heights, OH. He recommended that the Board of Directors ratify these constitutions today. It was moved and seconded that the LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors ratify the constitutions and by-laws of Emmanuel, Lancaster, OH, Risen Christ, Springfield, OH and St. John, Garfield Heights, OH The motion carried.

SYNODICAL REPORT
First Vice President of Synod, Rev. Peter K. Lange and Fifth Vice President of Synod, Rev. Christopher Esget, gave the report. Rev Lange noted that the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) is often perceived mostly as a bureaucracy, but actually we’re all a part of Synod. God first spoke the Word of reconciliation to all of us, so now we are first reconciled to God and then we’re ready to work wherever the Lord needs us. He gave the Board greetings from President Harrison.

Using the resource, “Making Disciples for Life - Documents and Data,” Rev. Lange explained that visitation has a long history. It was somewhat forgotten until in 2013
Synod gave it new prominence. In fact, it goes back to the Bible itself when Paul and others made visitations on congregations. In 1528 Martin Luther and others went around Wittenberg and discovered how the pastors were unprepared to teach their adults and children This fact led him to write both catechisms. Luther also wrote “The Visitation Articles,” dealing with visitation. Dr. C. F. W. Walther discussed the importance of visitation. In 2013 President Harrison brought it back to the forefront. President Harrison and Pastor Lange have divided up the districts to visit all the boards of directors. In the next years they will interview the pastors’ conferences.

He presented Section 2: “The 7 Mission Priorities.” The Seven Priorities are not presented in terms of Priority 1 being most important and so on, but they are actually seven facets of our mission. The theme is “Making Disciples for Life”. District people should be aware that copies of “The Making Disciples for Life Resource Center” are now available for people to use.. The website is especially supposed to be a “clearing house” for ideas, both from Synodical people and individual pastors and congregations.

Section 4 is the statistical section which reveals that the Ohio District is a mid-sized district and has had gradual increases in the 90's, but has seen decline in recent years. There have been increases in the number of congregations, but a decrease in number of members. Baptisms in the Ohio District are down by 34%, while it’s a 22% decline in Synod. Confirmations only increased by 2% in the District.

The Chart on giving reveals the various sources of funding for the Synod.
67% of the budget is unrestricted giving from districts; 19% comes from donors, ,9% comes from bequests, and 5% from investment income.

In terms of disaster giving, 100% of the funds goes to the specified disaster area.

He then took the Board through the section on “National Mission” and “International Missions.” Both areas are operating on a “shoe string” budget; in some cases a full-time worker has assumed duties of a certain area, such as Stewardship.
.
He also reviewed Section 9 which presented Interchuch Relationships of the LCMS.
The LCMS has relations with 39 Partner Church bodies which means we have Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with them. We have relations with 43 Allied Churches and this number is growing, which means we are in various stages of fellowship talks with them. In addition, the LCMS has 14 Emerging Relationships, meaning that Synod is getting to know these synods, but it does not have a formal relationship with them. Lastly, the LCMS has a growing number of Ecumenical Relationships with other church bodies.

 

After the presentation, the two presidents took questions from the Board members. Here are the questions that were discussed:

1. I’m concerned about all the demographic information presented in this book. Is there any population growth these days? There is growth in certain states; namely, the Texas, South East and Pacific Southwest districts. Immigration growth is happening in these districts, so districts may decide to staff intentionally more in the direction of immigration patterns, such as in the Ohio District we are reaching out to an Ethiopian group and a Hmong group. As a whole, the Christian Church is declining, but we may have to open up from our German culture and become more multi-cultural. After all, we are called to preach the Word to all nations.

2 Where is the growth in international missions? The map in the book shows the shifts in international missions . We are seeing that migration shifted from Europe to North America and now it has shifted to Africa.

3. How is the Lutheran Church doing in Asia? Christianity has never been dominant in Asia and it has faced much persecution. For example, Chinese Christians have suffered much under the Chinese government and other churches have suffered as well. The graph shows that 54% of the Synodical budget, $22 million, is devoted to International missions compared to National missions

4. In Section 9 it is noted that some well-known church bodies are found in the Ecumenical section, such as the Roman Catholic and the Wisconsin Synod. Does this mean that we don’t have much dialogue with these bodies? The LCMS has some dialogues with these church bodies. We have annual dialogues, but we're not coming close to fellowship as with the other Lutheran bodies, though there may be some cooperation in externals such as we have with the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of abortion. Note that the ELCA isn’t even mentioned on this list because it is so divergent that there is no interest at this time in discussing theology.

5. What is the NALC? - It is an offshoot of the ELCA

6. The chart of the LCMS finances looks so complex.. Is there any possibility
of “streamlining” it? It may be difficult to understand but it reveals the multi-faceted ways people contribute to the LCMS and its response to mission calls. The recent Seven Mission Priorities show how the LCMS wants to reach out in mission.

7. With the growth of missions in Africa, do you see us becoming less “colonial” toward Africa and becoming more open to them as partners in mission? The Ethiopian church is sending dozens of missionaries. The Lutheran church of Brazil has partnered with us and is sending missionaries to Boston to reach out to immigrants there.

8. I am concerned about the LCMS sending a letter concerning separation to the Lutheran Church Japan because this letter could cause great shame to the Japanese leaders and cause a great division.

9. The LCMS sends out professors all around the world - are we listening to other voices speaking to us theologically? We are starting to hear more voices. We have Lutheran relationships through the ILC International Lutheran Council and we’re listening. In addition, both seminaries are calling professors from other countries such as Prof Delib Schultz from South Africa and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis has called Professor Leo Sanchez from Brazil, so this may mark an opportunity to listen to international voices. In fact, we have people from 31 other cultures who are seeking colloquies.

10. As our congregational decline continues, what has the LCMS done in regard to social media? Congregations have done well during the covid process but we still need direction in terms of becoming more savvy in media work. The LCMS may have to give more directions with social media especially in regard to reaching the millennials. The Synodical Communications Department may provide more resources, yet we have to remain faithful to our Confessions and beware of these social media which make us become more covetous.

11. In my opinion, sometimes our churches are becoming more interested
in getting more members and keeping the institution going, but we must be more interested in dialogue with people and share Christ in this way. The LCMS is interested in revitalizing churches today and may share the importance of dialogue to share Christ.

12. My observation - I appreciate receiving mail from the Missouri Synod about my supporting the Synod financially, but keep in mind, I receive all sorts of materials from RSOs in Synod clamoring for money along with other non-profit organizations, so it becomes difficult to decide how to parcel out my offerings!

 

SUNSET CEMETERY REPORT
Mr. Peter Hessler, Legal Counsel gave the report. He noted several points. 1. The Olmsted Township Trustees approved NorthStar’s rezoning application. Unless there is some opposition to the rezoning in writing, the rezoning will become effective on October 8, 2021. 2. The close of the deal will occur within 60 days of the October 8, 2021 effective date of the rezoning. However, NorthStar is anxious to take possession of the District building as soon as possible to begin their renovations. They’re hoping that the process can move quickly. 3. Lisa attended the Trustees’ meetings and encountered no opposition; approval appears very likely 4. At this point, it is necessary that a final decision of the new office space should be made quickly. The Committee, consisting of President Wilson, CFO Lisa Rachul, and director Mike Korba, has examined several commercial facilities and initially recommended that the District office be moved to 2000 Aerospace, near the airport. However, the Committee has engaged Mr. Jeff Hewett, a real estate specialist, to assist in considering the options and to engage the landlords to obtain lower more competitive rates than have been presented. 6. Lisa stated that the District building now consists of 13,000 square feet, but the new space will be about 4200-4500 square feet.

The Board thanked Mr. Hessler and Mrs. Rachul for their thorough report.

 

TREASURER’S REPORT
Lisa Treasurer, the District Treasurer, gave the report. She noted several points:
1. The Ohio District financial position continues to be strong with adequate cash to avoid fiscal jeopardy. 2. There are two mission support trend schedules, One schedule is based on the actual month end closing date so comparison to prior year is difficult. The second schedule is an “as if" presentation and shows mission support for the prior year and current year "as if” the District had stayed on a January 15 year end. This provides a better comparison across the years. In this "as if” presentation, the Ohio District is currently 9.8% above the mission support for the prior year. We’re presently at seven months of discretionary spending. 3. The unrestricted cash analysis for fiscal jeopardy removes the dissolution funds from Zion Maple Heights in the secondary fiscal jeopardy computation. The rationale is that these funds may be necessary to transfer ownership of the Zion Maple Heights cemetery to another entity. Effort is being made to find a new owner. such as the City of Maple Heights. for this cemetery and it may be necessary to transfer some or all of the cash with the cemetery ownership. There are no updates on the status of these efforts since the May Board meeting.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT
The Ohio District - LCMS, as governed by the Board of Directors, exists to foster the fulfillment of the Great Commission in ways that are faithful to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions as demonstrated by:

Healthy congregations;
A. At the start of summer most of our congregations seemed to think we were coming out of the pandemic. By mid-summer he recommended that our pastors ensure their contingency plans were in place just in case there was a surge of COVID-19 variants. As we are entering fall, a few churches have brought back pandemic protocols. Most were monitoring the county or city information of COVID-19 reports and recommendations. B. The District educators’ training in August was led by MinistrySafe, focusing on preventing sexual abuse in schools as well as churches. We are considering making this training available throughout the District. C. Due to the pandemic, the annual middle school and high school gatherings were scheduled to be regional. However, even the regional gatherings could not be held safely. In response, the District Youth Team put together a “Gathering in a Box” resource for church youth groups to use this summer.

Healthy professional church workers (PCWs) and their families;
A. The Ohio District Fall Pastors Conference will be led by the Grace Place Ministries which is involved in worker renewal. B. Several District pastors have attended Doxology events sponsored by the LCMS. It provides help with pastoral care and counseling. As a District we might be able to host a couple of events this school year. C. Ohio District educators were invited to an online retreat called “Catch Your Breath” in June.

Healthy relationships between congregations, the District and beyond.
A. A task force from the LCMS Council of Presidents requested input from Districts regarding creative ways to support congregations and new church starts. B. Both the Ohio District Presidium and members from mission-related Ohio District task forces contributed to his report to the LCMS task force about creative ways of outreach. C. In the past couple of years the District received messages of concern about the Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery Association in Cleveland, OH including concerns about cemetery upkeep. The Ohio District is not a member of the association and has no authority over the Association. However, out of fraternal concern, he contacted the pastors of Ohio District churches in the Association to let them know the concerns.

Convention directive
A. In accordance with Resolution 2-08 of the 2019 Convention, we have increased awareness of military chaplaincy recruitment in the Ohio District. B. In accordance with Resolution 4-03A of the 2019 Convention, we have promoted “Making Disciples for Life” training opportunities.

Potential New Ministries or Programs for 2022 (Policy Manual 2.8)
The Mission and Ministry staff met to review Scriptural, District outcomes and required ministries. He then shared District and congregational needs as well as mission and ministry outcomes. From that point, they worked on ideas for new ministries for 2022. The ideas include:  Regional “thank you” celebrations for youth volunteers which includes a “best practices” element.  Increase Bible study or devotions for youth by send out a postcard with a QR code on a regular basis. The QR code will access the devotions or studies.
 Create a grant program for starting new schools. The grant would assist with the due diligence in discerning whether to start a school.  Creating a Curriculum Coordinator position for schools to help integrate the faith into all the classrooms.  Support two new church starts in two different regions.  Partner with the Michigan District in training and certifying Transitional Interim Pastors for Michigan and Ohio District churches.  Add a part-time communications position or contract with communications organization.  Make the Mission Coordinator position an Executive position and determine whether it will be part or full time.  Sponsor a District-wide emphasis on expanded Bible study in churches and Scripture study/devotions at home during the week.

There was one question about Intentional Interim Ministry - does it work or is it better to
have a vacancy pastor? Interim pastors help uncertain situations, such as a congregation which had a long-term pastor who left. They also help a congregation in conflict, especially one which has concerns about a previous pastor. An Interim pastor is helpful for congregations considering a dual parish situation; in fact, dual parishes are becoming more popular these days. Some congregations should look at this possibility.

Addendum: A. Update on training with Ted Kober from Ambassadors of Recon- ciliation. He has received more information about policy based governance. He has some suggestions for our Policy Manual which may improve the Board’s relationship with the District President. B. He has appointed Pastor Steven Hackman as Circuit Visitor of NE 4, replacing Rev. Powell Woods. C. After 10 years on the Board of Directors, Rev. Andrew Norris has tendered his resignation. Pastor Norris said that he was not going to let his name stand for re-election, so he took the option of ending his service this September. Given the timeline for replacing Rev. Norris, President Wilson recom-mended that the position be left vacant until the District Convention in 2022. The current ranking of the Vice Presidents is as follows: Rev. Don Beaumont, 1st Vice President; Rev. John Hohe, 2 nd Vice President; Rev. Dr. Eric Tritten, 3 rd Vice President and Rev. James Strawn, 4th Vice President.

At this time the Board members stated that they would recommend that the 5th Vice President should be filled at this time. According to the Code of Regulations, the District Secretary should conduct the nomination and election process.

It was moved and seconded that the LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors move forward and call for nominations for a new Vice President from the Southwest Region and hold the election. The motion carried.

DEMOGRAPHICS REPORT
President Wilson then presented the demographics report of factors applicable to the Ohio District .
A. The Big Picture: The population in the boundaries of the Ohio District in 2021 is 14,810,164 The District has experienced slow growth (less than 2 percent a year) the past decade; growth in the next five years is expected to be even slower with less than 1 percent growth. (Source: MissionInsite)

B. Population Trends A. Nearly two-thirds of Ohio’s counties lost population in the last decade. Cuyahoga County lost the most people, 15,305 or a decline of 1.2%, yet remains the second largest county. B. Central Ohio counties accounted for five of the six fastest growing population centers the last decade, adding 235,600 residents. Franklin County was the state’s growth center, adding 160,000 people to become the state’s largest at
1.32 million people. C Delaware County topped Ohio’s expansion by percentage at 23%, followed by Union County at 20%. (Source: 2020 Census)

C Households with Children: By 2026, the percentage of Married Couple households will decline from 65 percent to 64.0 percent, with both Single Mother and Single Father increasing by 1.2 percent and .9 percent, respectively.

D. Housing Market In 2020 homes sales dropped significantly through June., finally rallying in July. Starting in July, homes sales increased monthly year-over-year until July 2021. (Source: Ohio Realtors)

D. Ohio Unemployment: Ohio’s unemployment rate ranged from 4.7 percent to 5.4 percent the first seven months of the year. Hard to find consensus in interpret the numbers. For example, in May the Ohio workforce dropped below 60 percent for the second time since 1976. However, by July the $300-a-month unemployment subsidy ended. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Ohio Economic Recovery with COVID-19: In May Ohio was 36th fastest in economic recovery from COVID-19, Kentucky was 19th and West Virginia 44th.
(Source: May 12 Toledo Blade)

President Wilson ended his report with the Installation of the two new Vice Presidents, Rev. Eric Tritten, the North Central Region and Rev. James Strawn, the Northwest Region.

He also installed two new Board members, Rev. Ryan Kleimola, pastoral representative from the Northwest Region and Mr. David Jordan, lay representative from the Northeast Region. The Board greeted them with applause.

 

NEW BUSINESS
A. Rev. Kevin Jud will serve on the Finance Committee. B. Several directors expressed a concern about the Endowment Fund Committee in terms of the relation of the Board to the Endowment Committee as well as an explanation of the process of the Committee’s investing funds and the method of disbursing the funds. The chairman of the Endowment Committee will be invited to the next Board meeting in December. C. The Personnel Committee, consisting of Rev. Kevin Guynn, Rev. Don Beaumont, and Rev. Powell Woods, will again send out a survey about President Wilson to make an
evaluation in regard to his salary.

EXECUTIVE SESSION
At this time, Rev. Wilson was ready to call the Board into Executive Session.

It was moved and seconded that the LCMS Ohio District Board of Directors enter intro Executive Session.

After the Board discussion, the Board was ready to move out of Executive Session. The motion carried.

By common consent the Board agreed to adjourn the meeting at 2:05pm. Rev. Eric Tritten then led the Board in a closing prayer.

Rev. Paul W. Hoffman District Secretary

 

 

 

SECRETARY’S NOTE: Election of the Vice President - Southwest Region
Although eight pastors were nominated for Vice President, Southwest Region,
four pastors agreed to let their name stand in the election. The pastors who were
nominated are: Rev. Ken Castor, Rev. Mark Etter, Rev. Everette Greene, Rev. Ken Castor, and Rev. Allen Stuckwisch.

The directors were then contacted by e-mail and then voted for one candidate. Here
are the results of the first election: (13 votes altogether)
Rev. Everette Greene - 6
Rev. Mark Etter – 5
Rev. Ken Castor – 1
Rev. Allen Stuckwisch – 1

At this point, Rev. Ken Castor and Rev. Allen Stuckwisch were eliminated from the
Ballot. The directors were contacted to vote for the two pastors. Here are the
results from the second election
Rev. Everette Greene – 9
Rev. Mark Etter – 4

At this point Rev. Everette Green was declared to be Vice President – Southwest Region. The Secretary communicated with both pastors about the results. Rev.
Greene will attend the next Board meeting in December.