A huge drop in benevolence receipts from the ELCIC's five regional synods is severely hindering the National Church Council's ability to fund programs, according to financial statements released yesterday.
The national church today is receiving only 50 per cent of the benevolence it used to get from the synods when the ELCIC was formed in 1986, statistics show.
"We can't do all the programs we'd like to do," said ELCIC treasurer Norman Thompson.
In his report to the ELCIC convention, Thompson said total congregational giving throughout the ELCIC increased from nearly $43.7 million in 1986 to $65.6 million in 2003.
But the amount of benevolence money forwarded from congregations to synods increased only slightly during that time, from $4.1 million to $4.4 million.
Some congregations are having a tough time keeping their doors open and can't afford to increase their benevolence funding. Synods in turn are forced to cut their own benevolence to the national office, Thompson said.
The ELCIC national office received nearly $4.5 million in general revenue during 2004. Synods were the second largest source of revenue with $1.06 million. The largest revenue source was investment income ($1.26 million).
Because of its on-going budget squeeze, the national office has been forced to offload some programs to the synods, Thompson said. It downloaded Canadian Missions to synods during the mid-1990s.
The ELCIC posted a small operating surplus in 2004, based on total revenue of $4,492,486 and expenses of $4,099,031.
Page revised August 16, 2005.