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An Inside Look at LCEF’s First 40 Years

June 4, 2018 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

LCEF turns 40 this year, and much has changed since its beginning in 1978.

In a crammed downtown St. Louis office, LCEF consisted of simple investment notes, stacks of green and white-striped accordion computer reports, bag phones and large modems under mismatched desks. Typewriters crowded tables and chairs effortlessly tipped. No email, no FedEx and no UPS.

In the ‘80s, LCEF moved into the LCMS International Center and worked long days and weekends as districts were joining—inputting investment information by hand. Today, we carry pocket-sized smartphones and lightweight laptops around the newly renovated third floor of the building we purchased on 10733 Sunset Office Drive. And yes, all the furniture matches.

LCEF moved into 10733 Sunset Office Drive in 1997. LCEF President and CEO Art Haake standing in his soon-to-be office.

 

Of course, people have come and gone, but they all have shaped LCEF to be the organization that it is today. Exactly what kind of organization is that? The comment you often get is “LCEF is like a family.”
Thirty-one years ago, Alison Herndon joined LCEF right out of college, got married and raised two boys. More impressive is her 100-mile round trip commute each day. “I really love my job. I’ve also worn out a few vehicles,” Herndon says.

For Debbie Roediger, a 36-year LCEF veteran, she, too, started out of college, married, raised three children and is now a grandmother. Today, her daughter Ashley Reichert also works for LCEF.

Why is family so important? It’s been the family at LCEF that has helped a number of employees through some of their darkest days. “I have lost many family members during my 33 years of service,” Melinda Duniphan said. “I was able to handle the grief and heal because of the support that I received at LCEF.”

Just as this family environment hasn’t changed, neither has the central mission of supporting LCMS ministries. All agree it is an exceptional work environment and LCEF has managed to find and employ employees who share the same mission.

LCEF staff photo. – 1997

 

“The work here at LCEF is certainly more meaningful on a personal level,” Ken Weber said, “knowing that you are a part of something that is a force for good and hope in the world.” Weber joined LCEF in 1988.

To some, the biggest change over 40 years is the increase of our ministry partners and asset size. Through thousands of partnerships, LCEF’s total assets have grown to over $1.8 billion. It’s amazing. As Karen Lopez-Pineda, a 23-year LCEF veteran, said, “God is watching over us and leading us every step of the way.”

Without a doubt, the Lord’s generosity cannot be understated.

 

AUTHOR
Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.