The 2017 Synodical Convention was quite the experience with LCC anticipating some massive changes to it’s structure. After the convention was over some positions had to be filled and the Canadian Lutheran posted an article”Seeking nominations for new regional positions“. The first comment on the Canadian Lutheran article came from Rev. Robert Clifford who wrote:
People are asking, How is it that we are nominating for Regional Pastor and Regional Mission & Ministry Council under the new structure, before the results of the Convention Ratification vote by congregations are known?
“canluth” wrote a response that became the subject of my article “LCC Restructuring: What If the Constitution Fails its Confirmation Vote?” Long story short, in my view “canluth”s response was extremely suspect at the very best.
Arron Gust then responded:
Let us be careful in using words like overwhelming majority. The convention did pass the motion to adopt the purposed bylaws but many understood that passing the motion would provide the rest of the LC-C congregations their opportunity to vote on restructuring. A vote we were all PROMISED was part of the plan. But it immediately became clear that passing said resolution in the spirit of good will and an opportunity for the Church to voice her opinion was for not. It was now a done deal and even a NEGATIVE vote on the remaining constitution was not going to change anything! What happened to the national vote on restructuring we were promised?
CCMS Chair Bill Ney wrote an email detailing a rather interesting perspective on the events that supposedly took place at convention. This letter was sent directly to Robert, Aaron, 1st VP Nolan Astley, and SP Teuscher – but was not posted publicly so others could read it. Robert then posted Chairman Ney’s letter and his response to the CEF Investors Forum.
CCMS Chair Ney’s letter follows in its entirety. The entire 2017 Synod Convention was recorded and the video is posted here. This will enable you to compare Ney’s recounting of convention with a video recording of what – purportedly – is the same convention.
I will be posting commentary and analysis of Chairman Ney’s account of convention in a future article.
From Rev. Bill Ney:
When the CCMS began its research and then asked the church from east to west what sort of structure it wanted, a very clear picture began to emerge. The CCMS took the ideas and concerns of the church-at-large and then, with the assistance of our consultant, Rev. Dr. Les Stahlke, worked for two years to put that structure on paper. It then went back to the church once again for input. During those rounds of meetings across Canada people restated the changes they wanted, expressed their appreciation that the CCMS had listened and responded to their earlier input and incorporated those changes in the new proposed structure, and then asked what the process for implementing a new structure would take. The representatives of the CCMS shared their plan to take the changes to the LCC structure to the 2017 Convention and then, because it involved a change in the Constitution, actually the elimination of the Constitution, all congregations would have to vote following the Convention, on the proposed new documents that would replace the current documents and structure. Once again, this was because we would be repealing, not just amending, the current documents under which we operate.
But, all of that changed when the CCMS and the Board of Directors and the President of Synod began to receive strong push-back from many members of LCC, particularly pastors, that the format that we had put together under the direction of Dr. Stahlke was not going to be acceptable to the church at large and that it very likely would not pass in the Convention. The feedback from the church that the CCMS received was that a large majority supported the changes being suggested but that the format was not acceptable. This conclusion was then born out at the Convention itself.
Responding to the negative feedback and also the suggestion from those who opposed the new format who said that they would be in favour of the changes if they were contained, not in the proposed format, but in a revised Handbook that would still contain the Statutory Bylaws, the Constitution, and the Synodical Bylaws, the CCMS did just that, as requested. Together with the Board of Directors of LCC, the CCMS formed a special committee that took the proposed changes to our structure and simply wrote them into the documents mentioned above. Those amendments to our existing documents were then ratified by the CCMS and the Board of Directors.
Having been forced to do this, the CCMS had no other option than to follow what those documents required since they would not be replaced but simply re-written and thus revised. The Documents themselves stated the requirements for how Amendments to them were to be handled. The Statutory Bylaws required a two-thirds majority vote in Convention. The Synodical Bylaws required a simple majority vote by the Convention. The Constitution required a two-thirds vote of the Convention and a two-thirds vote of the congregations of Synod in the six months following the Convention.
Had a significant number of pastors and laypeople not informed the CCMS that they would oppose the new structure because of its format, on the Convention floor, and had the CCMS not been forced to remove that document from consideration in order to meet the request of the Synod to have a new structure, the congregations would have been asked to vote on everything. But, by putting the CCMS in the position of having to amend the Synodical Handbook of 2014 to reflect the clear request and input of the church for structural change, the church itself said that the only document that they wanted to have a congregational vote on was the Constitution.
This was made abundantly clear in meetings and correspondence and phone calls prior to the Convention and finally at the Convention when the Chairman of the CCMS, responding to a question of what the congregations would be asked to vote on, explained in the clearest terms possible, that the documents themselves, not being repealed, would be amended in the manner that each of them required, and that the Constitution alone would be sent to the congregations for ratification. The Convention delegates then proceeded to adopt all three documents with more than the required two-thirds or simple majority of those voting.
The congregations from the time of the formation of LCC have again and again in all the Conventions accepted the requirements for amendment that their original three documents stated. Therefore, no vote of the congregations themselves was requested on the changes to the Statutory Bylaws or Synodical Bylaws.
The congregations elected voting delegates to the 2017 Convention who, in their name, voted overwhelmingly to accept the changes brought forward by the CCMS and supported by the Board of Directors, to all three documents only after it was made clear to all that the congregations would be asked to vote only on the Constitution. This has been the accepted practice and procedure since the founding of Lutheran Church-Canada and also before that when we were a part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and it was the procedure required under Canadian law. Therefore, the congregations will not be asked to vote on anything more than the Constitution.
Pastor William R.A. Ney