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Administration Matters

Index of the March 2023 Issue of Administration Matters

Issue 86 of Administration Matters

It’s tax season: Updated tax guides are now available through Portico.

Portico Benefit Services provides ministers and congregations participating in the ELCA benefit program with no-cost access to annual tax guides. For ministers, Clergy Tax Return Preparation Guide by Richard R. Hammar gives special attention to tax-related topics most relevant to ministers. For congregations, Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches by Richard R. Hammar helps congregations understand their federal tax-reporting requirements.

Rostered Ministers Gathering – early registration ends March 31.

Let this gathering be an opportunity for you to remember, reclaim, rekindle and revive yourself. Gather with colleagues from across the church for fellowship, renewal, continuing education, worship, Bible study and refreshment for your spirit. The registration fee includes access to the plenary sessions and workshops, as well as participation in Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s opening reception and the Wednesday evening banquet and lunch each day. >More

Enjoy the ELCA Federal Credit Union ministry card, designed with your congregation in mind.

Credit cards are a necessary part of today’s world, but not all cards are the same. As a cost-effective alternative to standard corporate credit card programs, consider the ELCA Federal Credit Union’s ministry card program, and participate in a financial cooperative that supports other ministries and members of this church. Benefits for your congregation include:
• Ability to issue cards to pastors, staff and volunteers, with no minimum requirement on the number of cards.
• No impact on or relationship to the user’s personal credit or credit score.
• Low interest rate.
• No annual fee.
• Worldwide acceptance along with travel and insurance benefits.

For additional information or to apply, contact the ELCA Federal Credit Union.

Keep your building safe from wayward vehicles.

As you develop or review your organization’s risk control plan, you will likely consider many ways your property could be damaged or people injured — weather-related incidents; an armed intruder incident; vandalism, theft or arson; or child abuse. But a possible event that may never cross your mind is one that happens more often than you might think — a vehicle crashing into a building. >More

Unemployment Exemption for Churches

Nonprofit organizations enjoy special privileges under unemployment laws. Notably, churches and other religious institutions are entirely exempt from unemployment coverage. For more information on the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), review IRS Publication 1828, p. 22, and IRS Publication 15-A, p. 9.


Index of the January 2023 Issue

Issue 85 of Administration Matters

Stories of Faith in Action

We are pleased to share with you the latest version of “Stories of Faith in Action,” filled with inspiring stories from this past year. “Stories of Faith in Action” connects us as church and illustrates how, through your generosity, God is at work across the ELCA. It highlights how a portion of your offering, called Mission Support, advances the ministry of our church, helping the ELCA nurture Christian community, raise up leaders, serve our neighbors and strive for justice. Most importantly, it’s one way to thank you for your faithful generosity to your congregation, your synod and the churchwide organization ― by showing your offering at work. The stories and resources can be found at

January: New year checklist for Portico financial and health benefits

Is your congregation ready to start the new year strong? There are a handful of steps administrative personnel should take in January to ensure a smooth transition into 2023. EmployerLink users, visit Portico’s New Year Checklist to ensure that you are prepared.

January is also the time many of us set health goals. Getting an annual preventive exam, sometimes called a physical, is recommended by health care professionals for everyone but especially for those starting a new exercise program. Remind your employees who have Portico health benefits that preventive exams are covered and that the Portico Care Coordinators by Quantum Health are just a phone call away to answer questions about coverage and tests.

Risk control technologies

Every year ELCA congregations are impacted by water- and smoke-related losses to their property that severely impact their ability to conduct their various ministries. See the following for important free sensor and alarm alert technologies from our endorsed insurance partner, Church Mutual, that can help prevent such losses. >More

IRS issues standard mileage rate for 2023

The Internal Revenue Service has announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. As of Jan. 1, the standard mileage rate for business use of a car, van, pickup truck or panel truck will be 65.5 cents per mile, up 3 cents from the 2022 midyear increase. This rate applies to electric and hybrid-electric automobiles as well as gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. >More

Index of the September 2022 Issue

Issue 84 of Administration Matters

Stewardship Kaleidoscope: Sept. 26-28

Join us online or in person in Savannah, Ga., to hear practical stewardship tips from outstanding plenary and workshop leaders:
• New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs, whose numerous books include The Year of Living Biblically and My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself.
• The Rev. Dawn Hyde, pastor at the thriving Downtown Church in Columbia, S.C.
• The Rev. Michael Bos, senior minister at Marble Collegiate Church and author of A Church Beyond Belief: The Search for Belonging and the Religious Future.
Register at Stewardship Kaleidoscope.

Considering accessibility? Find out how one congregation lives out its welcome

As ELCA churches become more physically accessible, learn how one congregation uses its building as an invitation. Beginning with an inclusive welcome statement, First Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Neb., beckons not just in words but in parking spaces, a portico, ramps and more. If your congregation is contemplating renovations, planning accessibility updates or curious how one congregation strives to open itself to the surrounding community, read First Lutheran’s story (included originally in the Mustard Seed, a publication of the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA).

2023 Portico annual enrollment reminder

In early August, Portico’s board of trustees approved 2023 rate and benefit changes. Shortly afterward, sponsoring organizations and plan members were notified via email. Organizations that currently provide Portico benefits will need to make their ELCA-Primary health benefit selection on EmployerLink Oct. 3-14. Before then you can visit the site to review your organization’s decision guide and custom comparison report.

Lutheran Men in Mission — National Bold Gathering

Lutheran Men in Mission is providing an opportunity for men to reengage with each other and the church. This event will be in-person only; though parts will be recorded and shared at a later date, the true experience will be joining in the fellowship onsite. Register here.

Starting a risk control program

As organizations settle into the “new normal” of a riskier security environment, they need a more strategic approach to managing these risks beyond “check-the-box” compliance. The best way to protect your organization from losses, both internal and external, is to develop a risk control program. >More

Get All Access offers digital tools to engage members, encourage giving, build websites and manage congregational membership data, with special pricing for ELCA congregations. An ELCA preferred vendor, All Access offers ELCA congregations complete access to its platform for just $49 per month. All Access includes complete giving, a church website, ChMS (Church Management Software), a church mobile app and text messaging. Take advantage of All-access at

Index of the July 2022 Issue

Issue 83 of Administration Matters

ELCA Churchwide Assembly Pre-event: “Embody the Word” Bible study sessions

In preparation for the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, ELCA members are encouraged to participate in a series of online Bible studies. Participants will explore the meaning of “embodiment,” from Luke 24, and get the chance to engage with the presenters. Sessions take place Sunday afternoons in July from 3 to 3:45 p.m. Central time, and they can be streamed live or on-demand in the Churchwide Assembly Playlist of  the ELCA YouTube channel. The presenters are:
• Rev. Jay Alanis (July 10).
• Sally Azar (July 17).
• Man-Hei Yip (July 24).
• Denise Rector (July 31).
Register for the live Bible study sessions.

Get a jump on your Portico Annual Enrollment

Health benefits are critically important to the ELCA’s rostered ministers and church staff. Want to help your organization select its 2023 health benefit option? Download Portico’s 2023 Annual Enrollment checklist and complete the two July tasks now. EmployerLink users will receive more enrollment-related information in August and September.

Prepare for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday with new resources

On Sunday, Sept. 11, congregations of the ELCA will join for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday, our dedicated day of service. As you explore opportunities to participate, visit for planning resources including a tool kit, worship material, videos, posters, social media graphics and a special hymn for the day. As we continue our tradition of service to our neighbor, we remember the words of Martin Luther: “Our faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing.” Plan your day of service.

New mileage rate July through December 2022

The Internal Revenue Service announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rate for the final six months of 2022. Taxpayers may use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes. For the final six months of 2022, the standard mileage rate for business travel will be 62.5 cents per mile, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of the year. This new rate becomes effective July 1, 2022. The IRS provided legal guidance on the new rates in Announcement 2022-13, issued June 9, 2022.

Cyber liability insurance

Cyber insurance is a specialty insurance product intended to protect businesses from internet-based risks and, more generally, risks related to information technology infrastructure and activities. The cost of containing and repairing system damages, coupled with addressing customer fraud and damage claims, can cripple a small business. Insurance against cyberattacks can help a small business cover the resulting liability and damages. >More

Choose your payroll provider wisely

Outsourcing payroll services has become a common practice for small and large organizations. This helps them to reduce costs, follow all tax laws and obtain expert solutions to pay their employees accurately and on time. The Internal Revenue Service provides tips on how to choose a reliable and trustworthy payroll service. >More

Index of the May 2022 Issue

Issue 82 of Administration Matters

ELCA Churchwide Assembly

The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly will take place Aug. 8-12 in Columbus, Ohio. Under the theme “Embody the Word,” the assembly will meet around word and water, wine and bread, to carry on its work on behalf of the entire church. A key action during the assembly will be electing a vice president. Live video of worship and plenary sessions will be accessible at Churchwide Assembly — Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (

4 things you can do to keep your organization cyber-safe

Cybercriminals don’t just focus on “the big guys.” Whether you have 10 employees or 10,000, human error is easily exploited by cybercriminals, and in fact a large percentage of cyberattacks are caused by human error or behavior. Therefore, employees need to understand why protecting sensitive information is important and how to recognize threats. Here are four things you can do to keep your organization cyber-safe. >More

New videos on Portico’s billing process now available

New treasurers or congregation members responsible for paying their church’s monthly Portico bill should check out three new videos available on EmployerLink to illuminate our billing process. The topics are:
• Reviewing a sample bill.
• Paying your bill.
• Specific situations regarding your bill.
Transcripts of the videos will also be available. Look for these updated videos in the “What to Do” tab on the “How to Work With Us” page.

Creating a congregation mission statement

A well-written mission statement should clearly and concisely communicate the congregation’s purpose for existing and can provide the focus and motivation it needs to carry out its mission. >More

New E-book: The Four S’s That Keep Church Leaders Awake at Night

Our world is constantly changing, and the issues the church faces tomorrow will be different from those it faces today. The Four S’s That Keep Church Leaders Awake at Night, a new e-book by Kenneth Q. Tan, a partner at CapinCrouse, delves into four key topics — sustainability, succession, structure and security — that leaders must address to prepare their churches for the challenges and opportunities presented by this ever-changing landscape. This free e-book includes checklists, best practices and discussion questions for your leadership team. You’ll learn how to:
• Assess and address key sustainability factors such as differences in generational giving, strategic resource planning, and budgeting and forecasting.
• Plan for effective leadership succession.
• Be proactive with governing documents and policies that provide additional structure as you grow.
• Implement the right controls and procedures to improve security.

10 essentials of severe-weather preparedness

When disaster strikes, it’s too late to think about what you should have done to prepare; before disaster strikes, that preparation can be daunting. This guide walks you through the essentials of severe-weather preparedness. >More


Index of the March 2022 Issue

Issue 81 of Administration Matters

Create engaging virtual ministry with Vanco

Your church might already offer livestreaming, but this Lenten season you can take your virtual ministry up a notch with Vanco. During this important season, discover how to build on your existing online ministry to drive engagement and generosity (without breaking the bank).
Download your free copy of How to Have a Successful Online Church Ministry to learn . . .
• How to build or expand upon the foundation of your virtual ministry without spending a fortune.
• Which easy-to-use tools, such as Vanco Live, can help you set up an online church and drive meaningful interactions.
• How to keep the conversation going with members and guests after virtual services.
Get the eBook. Vanco is a preferred vendor of the ELCA.

Protecting offerings: Who would steal from us?

Large or small, congregations are often easy prey for would-be thieves. An offering-plate theft can be devastating for a congregation’s reputation, regardless of its size. Ministry leaders can strengthen their ability to protect their property and contributions by taking a fresh look at current procedures. >More

Make sure the right people are receiving Portico notifications

Many congregations have new council members starting at this time of year, so make sure your organization’s contacts are up to date in Portico’s EmployerLink. Portico sends important notifications to those in your organization that are registered on the site. These users can access your organization’s account information, including plan member benefit and compensation details.
Take a moment to deactivate people who no longer need access and register new users, using your organization’s unique 11-digit access code. We suggest registering at least two people, including the person who will make your organization’s benefit selection during annual enrollment. >More

Avoiding credit card fraud

Credit card fraud is a common identity crime. If you are like most people, you own, carry and use a number of credit cards. Please consider the following tips, which may apply to your unique needs and situation. Though not every risk can be controlled, there are a few things you can do to prevent and manage credit card fraud. >More

Recommendations for congregation secretaries

Every congregation requires a secretary. The secretary is arguably the most important officer, responsible for organizing, assimilating and disseminating information within and without the organization. They need to be organized, hardworking and intelligent, with excellent writing skills. Here your congregation’s secretary can find some recommendations/guidelines for performing their duties efficiently. >More