Meeting in Melbourne for the in-person sessions of the 20th General Convention of Synod, delegates were informed in a presentation by GCB member Mel Zerner that the church’s headquarters in North Adelaide is operating with an annual shortfall of approximately $1.5m.

While the deficit can be addressed in the short term by drawing on reserves, ‘naturally, this position is not sustainable’, Mr Zerner said. He said that, while the financial situation for the Churchwide Office is concerning, it is not unique across the church.

‘We are seeing reduced income across the entire church. Congregations are facing a range of pressures from several directions. Many are battling to stay afloat, let alone contribute to the District and Churchwide office budgets’.

But reduced congregational giving, particularly post-COVID, is only one reason for the Churchwide Office’s bleak financial situation, Mr Zerner said. The LLL, a major contributor to LCANZ ministries, is facing its own challenges, with low-interest rates over a number of years, coupled with limited lending opportunities as churches stagnate rather than expand as they have in past decades. The flow-on impact is that the LLL has needed to reduce its distribution to the LCANZ to support its work.

Brett Hausler, Executive Officer of the Church, thanked the GCB for the opportunity for the Churchwide Office to achieve a target of break-even for the 2025 budget.

‘This provides time to address the financial shortfall in a sustainable way, but also to consider how the structure and services can be designed to support the future needs of the LCANZ’, he told delegates.

‘Importantly, it gives us the opportunity to undertake broad engagement across the church, so that we understand what sorts of support our congregations want from us. We do not want to stop doing something you value and retain something you don’t value.’

Mr Hausler stressed that, while no-one can predict exactly how the changes will impact on our churchwide community, ‘we are in this together, and we will be seeking the views of the wider church as we plan the way forward’. ‘One thing we can be sure of, the status quo is simply not feasible’, he said. ‘We will be moving forwards through these challenges in an open and considered way, and regularly seeking your input.’

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