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Administration Matters

Index of the March 2024 Issue

Issue 92 of Administration Matters

You’re not late, everyone else is just early!

Final call for registration for the 2024 ELCA Youth Gathering, MYLE, and the tAble in New Orleans! Registration will close on April 15. Thanks to a generous donor, we are able to provide a waived registration fee (which includes program, housing and food) for our pre-events, the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event and the tAble! To learn more, visit:

Church Mutual update

The churchwide organization is aware of the difficulties currently facing the entire property insurance marketplace and the direct impact of insurers’ underwriting decisions. As you can imagine, Church Mutual is also directly impacted by these loss trends which influence their underwriting decisions regarding ELCA congregations and synods. >More

How to handle embezzlement

Anyone who is a victim of embezzlement experiences devastation on many levels. Trust has been broken and relationships are, no doubt, badly damaged. Steps must be taken to not only deal with the monetary loss but also the emotional and psychological impacts felt. >More

2023 tax guides are available through Portico

Two helpful tax guides are now available for church personnel. Portico Benefit Services provides ministers and congregations participating in the ELCA benefit program with access to tax guides:
• The Clergy Tax Return Preparation Guide by Richard R. Hammar gives special attention to tax-related topics most relevant to ministers.
• Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches helps congregations understand their federal tax-reporting requirements.
Both tax guides are available on myPortico and the Tax Filing Information tab on EmployerLink. If you’re not logged in to your Portico account, you’ll be prompted to do so.

Writing minutes like a pro

Minutes are a tangible record of the meeting for its participants and a source of information for future reference. Succinct minutes that capture the purpose of the meeting and its agreed outcomes are a record that can be referred back to and be used for follow-up purposes later. Good minutes are concise and to the point while including all critical information. >More

Tax guide for churches and religious organizations

Congregations and other religious nonprofit organizations are governed by special sets of rules and regulations. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides a summary of some of those laws in IRS Publication 1828 Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations. The topics covered include tax exempt status issues, substantiating charitable contributions, unrelated business income tax, and special rules on clergy compensation. >More

Index of the September 2021 Issue

Issue 78 Of Administration Matters

Youth Gathering July 2022 – Registration opens Sept. 22

Every three years, 30,000 high school youth and their adult leaders from across the ELCA gather for a week of faith formation known as the ELCA Youth Gathering. Through days spent in interactive learning, worship, Bible study, service and fellowship, young people grow in faith and are challenged and inspired to live their faith in their daily lives.
The 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering will take place July 24-28 in Minneapolis, with our pre-events, MYLE (Multicultural Youth Leadership Event) and the tAble July 21-24. Registration opens Sept. 22 via the Gathering website. There are limited funds available to offset registration fees. Visit the Financial Assistance section of our website to learn more or apply. While on the website, we encourage you to sign up for the gNews, our monthly newsletter filled with tips, resources and reminders as we prepare for next summer. Also, be sure to visit the Key Dates section of our website to see what deadlines are approaching!


SBA launches a new portal to simplify the forgiveness process for PPP loans of $150,000 or less

The Small Business Administration’s new streamlined application portal will simplify forgiveness for many small congregations that obtained loans from the Paycheck Protection Program to survive the pandemic. The majority of borrowers waiting for forgiveness have loans under $150,000 and have been challenged by an overly complicated forgiveness process. The new portal will simplify the process and deliver forgiveness more efficiently. >More


Portico Benefit Services — three important 2022 annual enrollment details

Annual enrollment will be here before you know it, and Portico wants to ensure that you have the information needed to make the process go smoothly. 1) This year your organization’s enrollment window is earlier and shorter, Oct. 4-15. 2) Employers who don’t make a health benefit selection by the deadline will be assigned Silver+ paired with the Level A health savings account (HSA) employer contribution. 3) Several resources have been created to support a successful enrollment season.


ELCA Federal Credit Union issued 360 PPP loans to congregations and ministries

Last year, the ELCA Federal Credit Union quickly pivoted its operations to become an SBA-certified lender and offered special assistance to ELCA congregations and ministries that struggled to make payroll during the pandemic. Read about how this program had an impact on our church, our members and the ministry we share. >More


Public service loan forgiveness expanded for clergy and religious workers

Rostered ministers and other church employees with federal student loans may now be eligible for loan forgiveness. When religious workers apply for forgiveness, the form must be completed by their direct employer. Synods cannot complete forms for congregational staff, and the churchwide organization cannot complete forms for synod or congregation staff. >More

Severe weather safety

Do you know the difference between a watch and a warning? Do you have a designated place to gather during a severe storm? Severe weather may consist of hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms, including damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail, flooding and flash flooding. >More

Index of September 2019 Issue

Issue 66 of Administration Matters

Workers’ compensation insurance
In almost every state, employers are required to buy workers’ compensation insurance, both to protect employers from lawsuits that result from workplace accidents and to provide medical care and compensation for lost income to employees hurt in workplace accidents. >More

Confidentiality and health-related information
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act deals with health care privacy concerns. Privacy rules restrict the use of medical records and health information maintained by hospitals and other health care providers but generally do not cover ELCA congregations. >More

The inherent risk of guest Wi-Fi access at your congregation
With the myriad of wireless devices in constant use, many churches provide Wi-Fi for the convenience of employees and guests. However, this complimentary benefit can come with a heavy price if security is taken for granted. You may want to forward this information to your IT support specialist before deciding to provide Wi-Fi access to your congregation. >More

Records retention schedule for congregations
It is important to know which records and information a congregation or synod should keep and which can be removed. Some records need to be maintained permanently, and others can be discarded periodically. >More

Valuable tips to protect your identity
Identity theft has become a common problem in the United States, with an estimated 9 million people affected annually, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Here are important tips to protect your identity. >More

Index of July 2019 Issue

Issue 65 of Administration Matters

ELCA Churchwide Assembly — livestream
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the church’s primary decision-making event, is a process of communal spiritual discernment — a time for us to be the living body of Christ, guided by the Spirit and conformed to God’s will. Watch our livestream of the 15th Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 5 through 10.

ELCA Annual Report
Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America share a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. Liberated by our faith, we embrace you as a whole person — questions, complexities and all. Join us as we do God’s work in Christ’s name for the life of the world. View or download the ELCA Annual Report – 2018 in Review video.

Political activity and tax status
501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from certain kinds of political activity, so your congregation must understand what is permissible and what is strictly prohibited in order to maintain its tax-exempt status. >More

Electrical safety — preventive maintenance
Preventive electrical maintenance is cost-effective in many ways, improves equipment efficiency and reduces utility bills. >More

Data security — protecting your congregants’ information
Data security is the critical process of protecting your congregation’s confidential information against unauthorized use. Data such as Personal Identifiable Information (PII), Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, banking information and more lie at the heart of the organization. Keeping this data protected demonstrates responsibility and increases donor confidence. >More

Spring and summer weather events: Get ready!
Each part of the country has its own warm-weather risks, so prepare your property and your people accordingly for spring and summer in your region. >More

Index of May 2019 Issue

Issue 64 of Administration Matters

ELCA Churchwide Assembly observers and volunteers
The 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly will take place Aug. 5-10 in Milwaukee, Wis. Each congregation of the ELCA may register one congregation observer. Congregation observers will be seated in the observers’ section of the plenary hall and have access to the ELCA Guidebook app as well as materials distributed on the plenary floor to voting members.

Are you interested in serving as a volunteer at the assembly? In the upcoming months, the Greater Milwaukee Synod will be recruiting about 600 volunteers to greet guests at the airport, help with worship services and work as microphone pages. Learn more.

Contingency planning for congregations
Your congregation is humming along, and out of the blue — the unexpected happens. It could be a decline in offerings, a long-term bad weather situation, a natural disaster or something else. It’s important to be prepared to respond to the unexpected. >More

Legal issues — background checks
Background checks are part of the screening process for new hires. Make sure to consult with reliable sources to ensure that these checks are a useful tool. >More

Reducing legal liabilities
America is more litigious than ever before. Knowing where your organization stands in terms of its legal liabilities will help you be prepared for potential pitfalls. Liability lurks everywhere, from everyday occurrences to more inherently hazardous activities. While you may not be able to avoid all legal risk or anticipate every legal threat, there are steps you can take to reduce liability. >More

Painting and working with chemicals
Painting may expose you to potentially hazardous situations, such as chemical use, climbing ladders, slippery surfaces and more. The guide below outlines some of the hazards associated with painting and provides information on how to work safely on your project and properly dispose of any waste. >More

The inherent risk of guest Wi-Fi access at your church
With the myriad of wireless devices in constant use, many churches provide Wi-Fi for the convenience of employees and guests. However, it is important that congregations assess the security measures that should be considered when providing this benefit. Should you find the resource below to be somewhat technical, we suggest you contact your IT support person to answer any questions. >More