LCC Restructuring: Who is the Servant and Who is the Master?

The Canadian Lutheran article “Seeking nominations for new regional positions” attracted some interesting comments – I found this note by Dennis Kendall particularly poignant (I edited it for emphasis):

As a lay delegate to the LCC Convention I was aware that the decision of the LCC Board to not support the original LCC Restructuring Plan submitted to the Board from the CCMS in July 2017 radically changed the power of individual congregations to either ratify or not ratify the complete plan. That is why I had serious reservations about the this 11th hour procedural change.

I’m not sure that all voting delegates fully understood that implication of this fateful decision made by the LCC Board.

I suspect that the overwhelming majority of the ordinary members sitting in the pews of all our LCC congregation did not fully understood this implication.

This situation brings into sharp focus some serious questions about whether the entire LCC infrastructure is truly a servant to the congregations or whether it assumes that it is the master of the congregations. I am committed to moving forward with the decisions made at the LCC Convention but believe that the whole LCC infrastructure will ultimately fail if it does [not] come to accept that congregations ought to be the ultimate decision-maker about the future of our national church body.

Sadly, given that the delegates were working from the assumption that the congregations would get a confirmation vote on whatever was passed, I’m pretty confident that Dennis’s observations are pretty well on the mark.

This lack of awareness rests squarely on the people that were shepherding the the restructuring process as the delegates were relying on them to keep them fully informed.  This is particularly true given the late date that the restructuring documents were released which left the delegates almost no time review much less hold any type of reasoned consideration about its contents.

This lack of notice meant that in order for the vote on restructuring to proceed properly Synod had to communicate the implication of a particular vote in its entirety – what it meant, how it fit into the overall scheme of things, when it took effect, and whether or not it would require a confirmation vote by the congregations. 1st VP Astley did a reasonable job of going through the changes, but I didn’t hear any mention that passing the Statutory Bylaws meant the changes took effect immediately, would not be subject to a confirmation vote, and meant that restructuring was basically a “done deal. ”

Perhaps that’s why the original founders of LCC’s governing documents put all the organization’s structural elements in the Constitution and had the two sets of Bylaws defer to it – because the Constitution  – unlike the Bylaws – had to be confirmed by the congregations before it took effect.

Or, Synod could’ve followed the path the Acts and Bylaws proposed and saved everyone a lot of drama, turmoil, and lost trust.

From a more cynical perspective I’ve seen the following tactics used in other times and places –

  • delay the release of meeting documents until the last minute – this prevents the delegates from having time to fully consider the information, discuss the contents amongst themselves, decide on what changes they want, and so come to an reasoned decision,
  • with-hold other information that would be needed for an informed vote,
  • put pressure on the assembly to immediately make a decision,
  • get an affirmative vote,
  • implement the decision after it’s too late for the delegates to change the outcome of the vote.

While I’m not saying this was the intention behind what happened at the 2017 Convention, it may be a distinction without a difference.

Note: 1st VP Astley was a BOD member and is not a member of the CCMS. Given that the structure was a CCMS responsibility and it reported solely to Synod in Convention and not the BOD, I have to ask – why has a BOD member been the public face of restructuring since the “working group” was formed instead of the CCMS Chair?

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