S. Dcn. Donna-Mari Fieldsa Report


S. Dcn. Donna-Mari Fieldsa, director for finance and administration 


We continue to embrace our Bishop’s 2025 Vision by sharing the Gospel of Christ through helping those in need throughout the Metropolitan NY area. 
This last year, during post COVID-19 times, we were still on a hybrid work schedule. Still, we worked closely with the Vision Team Taskforces, the Audit Committee, the newly formed Investment Committee, and the Synod Council to continue serving the priorities of our Mission: Evangelism, Leadership, Congregations, Advocacy, and our Bishop’s vision.
Given the ongoing changes in our environment today, the Bishop and staff are continuously reviewing and evaluating the methodologies that are in place, while considering our vision, values, and priorities. These efforts are helping our synod to become stronger and move boldly into the future, while preserving the Lutheran tradition and responding to specific needs of our leadership, congregations, and those who are in need.
I am currently in my third year as your Director for Finance and Administration. I am grateful to be a team member of the Synod’s Executive Staff, and to work with the Treasurer and Synod Council. Their care and dedication to this synod is remarkable.
This year we focused on improving systems and creating efficiencies in the Accounting and Finance area.
We made a few enhancements to the financial processes and updated procedures, making them more efficient and understandable. An example of this work is the newly designed document, ‘Minimum Expectations for Clergy Compensation,’ which replaced the ‘Clergy Compensation Guidelines’ document. The new document, which can be found on our website, offers greater clarity, and contributes functionality via a tool that assists in automated calculations. I enjoy assisting clergy and lay leaders with this new document, as well as with other ad hoc accounting, tax, and finance inquiries.
This year, we transitioned to a new database platform that will provide much-needed improvement to our data warehousing and reporting capabilities. The finance team focused on the transitioning of Mission Support data and the criteria for new reporting.
I work closely with the COO and Treasurer, in the development of the annual budget and provide financial reporting, as requested. We take seriously the expectation of our Synod Council to have a balanced budget and to work on the glide path. The concept of the glide path was conceived by Synod Council and approved by the Synod Assembly more than six years ago and has been discussed over past years at our Synod assemblies. Despite the current constraints, we remain committed to this expectation. 

Our budget for the fiscal year ending 2023 was set at $5.7 million, which represents a $300K reduction from the previous year’s budget of $6 million. Actual spending for the 2023 fiscal year, which came in under budget, was approximately $5.3 million. We are grateful to our congregations for the Mission Support that has been given to our Synod. We received $914K in Mission Support during the 2023 fiscal year. Fifty percent, or $457K of the mission support received from our congregations, was sent to churchwide in our synod’s support of the ELCA, leaving the remaining $457K with MNYS. With approximately 17% of our budget dollars being received through mission support, the remaining amount needed to cover expenditures was withdrawn from the Legacy Fund. Drawing from the fund is not a recommended practice, which is why we continue to work on the glide path. We successfully met this expectation in fiscal years 2021, 2022 and 2023. We are anticipating the same positive result in fiscal year 2024. Staying on the glide path will help us to reduce spending in future years, while we continue to act as good stewards of God’s resources, leaving a legacy for generations to come.

Our proposed budget for this fiscal year ending 2024 is $5.4 million. Adhering to the glide path, it is reduced by $300,000 from the prior year’s budget. 

In addition to preparing the monthly financial statements and narratives, I work with a variety of regulatory agencies in filing the required documentation to ensure that we are compliant with the state, city, and federal laws relating to synod-owned properties. Additionally, I assist lay leaders in winding down financial matters upon Holy Closure of their congregation.
This is the third year I am working with our outside audit firm, Tait, Weller & Baker. Our audit continues to be successfully carried out remotely. We have received a clean or “unqualified opinion” from the audit firm each year and have not received any Management Letter Comments.
In closing, I would like to thank my colleagues for their support and help. I am thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity: to be working with dedicated people who value our church's mission and to have the ability to share my gifts and live my vocation for Christ each day.