One of the pre-eminent issues any leadership position has is to get the details right, particularly when dealing with matters of structure and communicating with a large membership like LCC’s.
Recently Rev. Paul Schallhorn who is the Secretary for the LCC Board of Directors sent a communication to the member churches about proposed changes to the constitution and their duty to vote on that change. In a note posted to the Canadian Lutheran he makes a fundamental mistake.
At the recent LCC Convention, amendments to our Synod’s Constitution were adopted by the delegates. According to Article XI, Part 4 of that Constitution, these need to be sent to each LCC congregation for ratification.
One has to keep in mind that everything has to be done in a particular order, and when amending the constitution the proposed changes do not come into effect until the following process has been completed:
- The changes are submitted to Synod in convention to consider.
- The delegates vote to adopt the proposed changes by a 2/3rd majority.
- The member congregations vote on the change one way or another within six months after the end of the convention.
- If 2/3rds of the votes cast are in the affirmative then the constitution is amended and the proposed changes come into effect. If not, the changes are lost.
In the Secretary’s communication he cites Article XI, Part 4 as the reason for the communication. In the current constitution – which is still in effect – Article XI, Part 4 pertains to the office of the President – specifically:
4. The president shall see to it that the resolutions of a Convention are carried out.
The correct citation is Article XIV Part 4, which states
Article XIV Amendments to the Constitution
4. Proposed amendments to the Constitution adopted by a Convention shall be submitted directly to each congregation that is a member of the Synod on an official ballot, and the congregations shall by official action express their affirmative or negative vote and indicate the same to the secretary of Lutheran Church-Canada on this official ballot. The proposed amendment shall become effective at the expiration of six months from the date on which the amendment was adopted by a Convention, provided a two-thirds majority of the votes cast by congregations within that period shall have favored the amendment. At the end of the six-month period the secretary of Lutheran Church-Canada shall announce the outcome of the voting by districts in the official periodicals of the Synod.
A comparison of this text with the citation printed in the Canadian Lutheran shows that they are the same – the Secretary mistakenly used the location in the proposed constitution instead of the current constitution.
Since the wrong citation was made, this notice may be invalid. Whether or not that is the case is a question that needs to be referred to the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure for a decision. (I would note that the CCMS does not have the same get-out-of-jail-free card the Commission on Adjudication enjoys – when they’re asked a question, they have to make a ruling.)
Update 2017-11-24: The Canadian Lutheran has been updated with a correct reference in the Constitution.
Questions have been asked – what happens if the proposed constitution isn’t adopted? Looking at the proposed changes, I think Synod would be in a peck of trouble if the amendments fail to pass.
A cursory review of the before/after changes:
- Article I in the new constitution changes a number of definitions.
- The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope is not added.
- The old membership definitions and conditions still apply.
- Members are expelled as opposed to membership being terminated.
- Article VII Relation of the Synod to Congregations uses different terminology and definitions.
- Article VIII pertaining to normal and special conventions would remain – although this article would be over-ridden by provisions in the Statutory Bylaws.
- Article IX Representation would remain – although this article would be over-ridden by provisions in the Statutory Bylaws.
- The duties of the Synodical President are drastically different between the two Constitutions – the duties in the new constitution’s Article X Part 4 is completely missing.
- Article XII Districts and Their Regulation remain, though this may be over-ridden by the Statutory Bylaws.
- Article XIV Amendments to the Constitution in the current constitution uses different definitions of terms compared to the updated Statutory and Synodical Bylaws.
This is the part of the proposed Article X Part 4 that would be missing if the proposed constitution does not pass:
4. The president shall:
a. manage the delivery of the following services:
(i) providing ecclesiastical supervision
(ii) building community
(iii) caring for Members
(iv) training church workers
(v) engaging in Canadian Missions
(vi) engaging in World missions
(vii) providing social ministry
b. provide pastoral leadership, oversight and support to the regional pastors,
c. provide leadership in the strategic planning process of Lutheran Church-Canada and the Synodical Family,
d. represent Lutheran Church-Canada at national and international meetings and gatherings of Lutherans and other multi-denominational gatherings,
e. represent Lutheran Church-Canada as required at meetings and gatherings of organizations with which Lutheran Church-Canada has signed a Memorandum of Understanding,
f. monitor compliance with the Memoranda of Understanding signed with other organizations.
Personally I think this question is something the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure should address in detail and then communicate to the church as a whole so they are fully informed when they vote.
2017-11-10: I’ve looked a bit further into the question about “what happens if the amendments to the Constitutions are lost” and wrote a post on it here.
2017-11-24: Someone at the Canadian Lutheran’s updated the notice and added this:
Editor’s Note: The letter from Rev. Schallhorn previously referred to Article XI Section 4. That citation is from the amended constitution as adopted by the 2017 convention. The letter should instead refer to Article XIV Section 4, which is the section in the current (unamended) handbook.