Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Could this be voting with the wallet?

Head of Luther Seminary in St. Paul resigns amid financial woes
  • Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 11, 2012 - 9:42 PM

School announces search for new president after losing nearly $4 million last school year.

The president of Luther Seminary in St. Paul has resigned amid rising maintenance costs and declining enrollment.

Considered the country's largest Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) seminary, the school wants to "take a fresh look going forward" after losing nearly $4 million last school year, Luther's board chairman Jim Lindus said Tuesday.

The seminary announced Monday that Richard Bliese stepped down from the job he's held since 2005. Officials plan to name an interim president by January and launch a national search for a successor.
Enrollment is down from 822 nearly five years ago to 764 students this year.


Could this be a sign of people voting with their pocketbooks and wallets?  There is no secret about the membership losses in the ELCA since 2009 and the CWA that opened the door to gay and lesbian marriage and clergy.  Now it seems that Luther, a very large Lutheran seminary, is suffering financially and I would be surprised if the two were not connected.  BTW the other seminaries of the ELCA are also suffering financially and enrollment wise -- with the Lutheran Seminary in the South merging with Lenoir-Rhyne University some months ago...

It will be interesting to see if this is spun by the spin doctors into another scenario...  Wait and see!


Anonymous said...

The ELCA has been loosing about 1.5-2 % a year for a long time. In 2010 that peaked to 6% so they lost about 4-4.5% of members from that 2009 vote. To me this doesn't show a seismic schism and most who haven't left in 2010 won't leave later, they decided they are ok with the ELCA decision.

Of note the LCMS, being 1/2 the size of the ELCA, has not seen an 8% increase, so the members are going somewhere else and not to LCMS.

The 2010 LCMS numbers show a 1.45% drop ( per the Reporter ) and historically have been about that.

So the LCMS and ELCA decline other than the 4% bump are similar. I think its due to death:birth ratios and average age of parishoners.

Anonymous said...

But some passing scuttlebutt I saw online suggested that the fiscal issue was more a pullback on alumni giving.... but thats just wild and rampant gossip.....

Anonymous said...

I agree with bitznbitez. Demographics does play a significant role in declining membership. Lutherans are having fewer babies.

The ELCA may be twice as large as the LCMS, but the LCMS has only two seminaries. How many ELCA seminaries are there? Ten? The number of seminaries should have been addressed in the mid-1980s when the ELCA was still being formed.

Doctrinal issues notwithstanding, the cost of attending any seminary in the USA is scaring many potential students away. Who in their right mind would want to get $80,000 in student loan debt with zero guarantee of a job that pays $32,000 after graduation?