April 3, 2008

Issues with stewardship

In my non-April-Fool's "Roundup" post I included a link to a source alleging that $3,000,000 in funds earmarked for World Relief/Human Care had been spent by Synod President Gerald Kieschnick. I have learned that this is not true. I apologize for passing on an inaccuracy, and regret the error.

However, what I have learned--and verified from several sources--is that Synod "holds" funds contributed to World Relief/Human Care, and does not credit the interest made on those contributions back to World Relief/Human Care. Over the past several years, this amounts to at least $15,000,000 in contributions, the interest from which has climbed into the millions. It is important to note that the Synod as a whole has not taken contributions earmarked for WR/HC; however, they have kept the interest on those contributions and used them for other purposes.

This practice is not illegal.

However, it is, I believe, improper to redirect the benefit (interest) of funds donated for one purpose towards other programs and entities without the permission of the donor. What programs and salaries are being paid for with interest from World Relief/Human Care donations?

I have encouraged my congregation to include WR/HC in our annual budget, and we have done so for several years. (Over the years I have also given personal gifts to WR/HC.) I will continue to encourage this, but it is profoundly displeasing to know that interest from the funds is not being credited to WR/HC. I wonder if other donors know that if their gifts are not disbursed immediately, the interest is not credited to human care needs? As with the Issues, Etc. scandal, we are left asking, "Why?"

From what I have learned, LCMS treasurer Tom Kuchta is not at fault for this. Official synodical documents indicate that the LCMS Board of Directors declined to grant World Relief/Human Care even a small reimbursement for the interest collected and used for non-WR/HC purposes.

I do not want this to take the focus off of the growing Issues, Etc. scandal. Nevertheless, this raises some significant questions about Corporate Synod's stewardship of the money entrusted to her.

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