Restructuring: You Can’t Do That!

December 14, 2017 Canadian Lutheran posted an article pertaining to the Synodical Constitution. In this article I’ll discuss the following documents that were posted to the website:


In the Executive Summary, the first thing that jumps out at me is who it’s coming from – the BOD 1st VP.  For conspiracy theorists out there this is prime fodder because the BOD doesn’t get an official voice in the restructuring process – that role is given exclusively to the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS). The CCMS has made it clear that they want BOD support – which is fine – it’s also a far cry from the BOD taking over the whole process.

This also leads to the question – why is the 1st VP the public face of restructuring instead of the CCMS Chair? From the Synodical Convention to these documents an unbiased observer could understandably think that the CCMS has disappeared from the whole restructuring process. Fortunately for Synod there’s no rules about who presents the restructuring documents as long as they originate with the CCMS.

Not from a  “working group”.

Not from the BOD.

From the CCMS. Synod gave them this responsibility, it is only given to them, it is their duty to carry it out and can’t be handed over to someone else.

Next,the summary states

a revised structure for LCC which will reduce administrative costs by $ 400,000 per year,

Personally I think it’s great if that’s possible – and I’d like to see the financial analysis to back up that number. Going by memory, the last estimate I recall reading was in the $40K savings range not $400K. This leads to the questions – which number is correct, and if they both are – where’d the extra “0” come from? (Update 2017-12-30 I found Synod’s financial analysis to support the $400K number and added it to the “links” page)

The Regional Pastors will not have to carry out the corporate responsibilities of District Presidents, i.e., serving as corporate CEOs, planning conventions every 3 years, presiding over their own corporate Board of Directors, and maintaining various ministry departments.

Which is well and good as long as the work those District Boards and ministry departments were doing disappears along with them. If the work remains to be done and the Synod BOD can’t keep up with its increased workload – then it’s going to be snowed under, any downstream work that depends on the BOD getting their work done will stall, and who knows what third-order effects’ll happen, etc.

Hopefully that’s not the case – though since the workflows and workloads of the various Districts haven’t been scoped out, its hard to predict what will happen. For the incoming SP and BOD, this is going to be one of the first things they’ll need to address.

“These proposed changes in structure were all adopted by the 2017 LCC Convention by a strong majority. “

And there was a palpable “what just happened” after the delegates passed the Statutory Bylaws and learned too late that the congregations would not get a confirmation vote. This meant that for all intents and purposes restructuring was a done deal in which case there wasn’t much point in voting against the following changes.

Over the past 2 ½ years an enormous amount of time and effort have gone into developing the proposals for structural change in LCC and also to presenting those changes in a way that they can be implemented and become reality for the Synodical family. 

And four months before convention “someone” managed to veto all that work, the BOD intruded into CCMS business and then effectively took over the process. Whether or not the CCMS agreed to this is irrelevant because Synod voted to give them the responsibility for structure, and if Synod in Convention is supreme, the CCMS can’t “agree to” changing that.

The Board of Directors of LCC, together with the CCMS, ….

It’s nice that the BOD approves of this change – but this should really be coming from the CCMS with the BOD’s support, not the other way around.

Should you have questions or need clarification on the proposed changes to the Constitution you may contact the undersigned at the email address in the  letterhead and answers will be provided as quickly as possible.

Why is this discussion confined to just the requestor and the Synod VP? Where’s the forum? Or some other public place for the various congregations and delegates to discuss the matter and share opinions? Why is it that all questions and discussion have to go through the 1st VP (not the CCMS), and any outside discussion has to take place on an ad-hoc basis from people and congregations finding each other?

To me this looks like Synod is trying to control the message so membership only hears the official word and doesn’t have to deal with publicly dissenting positions or potentially having to answer hard questions.


Up next is the “detailed letter to congregations explaining the changes” Many of the issues I raised with the Executive Summary recur here. I’ll raise new issues as I identify them.

A separate resolution was adopted by the Convention stating LCC will begin offering the ecclesiastical services currently provided by Districts directly to its Members as of January 1, 2019

Except Resolution 17.01.05 states that Synod will discontinue working through the Districts as of Jan 1, 2019. This means that Synod can start using it’s new structure immediately. (In fact, once the new SP is sworn in and the old SP and VP terms come to an end, it has to use the new structure.) Contrary to what the 1st VP writes, what happens on Jan 1, 2019 is that Synod has to cease working through the Districts. This means is that if for some reason something gums up the works and the change-over shouldn’t happen – it’s too bad, so sad, Synod in convention has tied your hands.

Our entire church in Canada is only slightly larger than the Missouri Synod’s Iowa District West.

Um – no. Iowa West covers half of a single state and it only has one state’s jurisdiction to worry about, not five provinces. If you wanted an apples-to-apples comparison, Iowa is roughly the same size as Bangladesh, not Canada. For a true geographical equivalence you’d compare Canada to Australia, Brazil, China, and the United States. LCC may have the same membership as Iowa West, but that’s where the similarity ends.

In the survey conducted by the CCMS at the beginning of their work, nearly 40% of the pastors who responded to the survey indicated they do not feel they are adequately supported by district and synod. This number is of great concern and it is hoped that Regional Pastors who are freed from having to serve as CEO of a corporation, will allow for more time in the field caring for members and building community in our synod.

A more supportive relationship between the parish pastors and the ones charged with supporting them is a good objective. However, given the amount of time and treasure put into this effort one would hope the result would be a more definitive statement and that these new Regional Pastors will, in fact, be required to spend more time supporting parish pastors instead of doing other things.

And if they don’t do the job the restructuring process intended to accomplish, then what?

In the wake of the crisis, mission remittances from congregations have declined significantly as trust in our structures was lost.

The structure isn’t what bothers me, and I venture a guess that it doesn’t bother others that much either. The big issue is the people filling the posts in a structure abusing the trust they’d been given or failing to properly and diligently exercise their oversight responsibilities.

If the people don’t change, then it doesn’t matter what structure is in place – the result will be the same.

In addition LCC has experienced greater difficulty obtaining liability insurance for its officers and directors in the wake of the CEF crisis. While this has been solved for the moment, permanent solutions will come only as the LCC’s operations are streamlined.

May I make a small change? I hope the 1st VP doesn’t mind…

In addition LCC has experienced greater difficulty obtaining liability insurance for its officers and directors in the wake of the CEF crisis. While this has been solved for the moment, permanent solutions will come only as the LCC’s operations are streamlined when LCC is run by people that faithfully and dutifully execute their roles.

Continuing….

it is appropriate for the corporate matters to be contained in the Statutory Bylaws so the Synodical Constitution can focus on our life together in Christ

The distinction is that the proposed Synodical Constitution only has such authority as is delegated to it by the Statutory Bylaws. If, as has been LCC’s past practice, they are supposed to be given equal footing, this change makes the Constitution – and everything in it – subordinate to the Statutory Bylaws. This becomes an issue here –

m. Article IX (proposed) Ecclesiastical Functions of Officers
Officers of LCC have responsibility to manage the corporate affairs and ecclesiastical life of LCC. Their corporate responsibilities are defined in the Statutory Bylaws and their ecclesiastical responsibilities are further defined in the Synodical Bylaws.

Given that the Constitution is subordinate to the Statutory Bylaws, that means that if a case arises where the two are in conflict then LCC’s corporate officers will be required to resolve the disagreement in favor of the Statutory Bylaws over the Constitution.

This next one is a biggie: 

NOTE – in the draft of the Synodical Constitution presented to the Convention there was an error at the end of Article X 3 referring to the doctrine and practice of “districts.” The word “districts” should have been “regions.” This error will be corrected by the CCMS in the final draft of the Synodical Constitution.

WHAT THE 1ST VP IS SAYING IS THAT THE CCMS WILL BE AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION OUTSIDE OF THE PROCESS ESTABLISHED BY SYNOD.

Need I state the obvious? You Can’t Do That! I don’t care if that wasn’t the intent, the CCMS put a document in front of Synod in Convention, Synod in Convention spent a lot of time considering it before voting on it, and that’s what goes to the congregations for ratification. Period. End of story.

As the 1st VP stated at the convention when he was asked what the delegates should tell the congregations back home “This is our structure for the next four years, you can change things at the next convention or call a special convention.”

When the BOD and CCMS decided to circular file the Acts and Bylaws and try to accomplish in four months what the CCMS had spent twenty-one months on,  this was bound to happen. And now that it has they can’t decide the rules don’t apply them so they can “fix” their error. Like the delegates having to explain things to their home congregation, the only two solutions the CCMS has is the ones the 1st VP identified – wait for the next convention or hold a special convention. And if they try to make an end-run around Synod’s amendment process the whole lot of them should end up in front of the Commission on Adjudication.  Oh wait….

q. Article XI Amendments to the Constitution
The amending formula for the Synodical Constitution remains unchanged. The amendments to this article relate to nomenclature and wording updates.

Someone should tell that to the CCMS….


Closing Notes:

  • The final draft and comparison documents are the same as what was presented at convention.
  • The ballot includes the Synodical Secretary’s email which is good for a chuckle –  friartuck1@rogers.com
  • For those who are interested in the the convention recordings I have a blog post on it here.

Credits: “Re-Org Ahead”

6 thoughts on “Restructuring: You Can’t Do That!

Add yours

  1. Hi ANO,

    “I don’t care if that wasn’t the intent, the CCMS put a document in front of Synod in Convention, Synod in Convention spent a lot of time considering it before voting on it, and that’s what goes to the congregations for ratification. Period. End of story.”

    I don’t think it’s quite the case that it’s end of story. There is a provision that allows the CCMS to make revisions following Convention, albeit only for a specific purpose. (New) Synodical Bylaw 2.103 (B) c. says the CCMS can “revise the Statutory Bylaws, the Synodical Constitution, and Synodical Bylaws immediately after each Convention to bring them into harmony with the resolutions or changes adopted by the Convention”.

    So I think there’s a question that needs answering before we can say “end of story”: does that specific change (correcting the error of referring to districts instead of regions in one place) fall under this provision?

    Like

    1. I have a hard time buying that line of reasoning because “intent” could be used to justify all kinds of post-convention changes to Synodical documents – including changes the delegates didn’t intend and wouldn’t have voted for if they’d had the chance.

      In addition the document that was changed wasn’t the result of bringing it in line with a more general resolution on the floor such as “Resolved: To move to a four year convention cycle” when the current cycle is three years. The document itself was voted on and adopted as-is.

      Like

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