Recently a reader of this site let me know that the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS) had issued two opinions – one pertaining to vacancy pastors being the clergy delegate for a congregation, and nominations from the floor.
CCMS Ruling, Sept 23,2018, Vacancy Pastors Voting – has the following question posed by President Timothy Teuscher:
The question, therefore, is:
“Can a vacancy Pastor, not serving another congregation, cast the vacant congregation’s pastoral vote at the District Convention and at the Synodical mini-convention where the District Convention will be suspended for a time, the Synod “Convention” initiated, where the Synodical President is in charge and where voting will take place for the Regional Pastor, the Circuit Counsellor, and lay members of the Regional Mission and Ministry Council?”
A vacancy Pastor not serving another congregation is not permitted to vote at the District Convention he is attending but is permitted to vote at the Synodical meeting that will occur within the time-frame of the District Convention, on the matter of electing a Regional Pastor, a Circuit Counsellor, and lay members of the Regional Mission and Ministry Council.
Leaving out the legality of these Synodical “mini-conventions” – the only quibble I have with this ruling is this: “A vacancy Pastor not serving another congregation is not permitted to vote at the District Convention he is attending.” The rules pertaining to delegate eligibility at a District Convention is subject to each District’s handbook and handbook committee. For the Synodical CCMS to issue a ruling on a District concern is to overstep the bounds of their authority.
One part of the question refers to “the Synodical mini-convention”. If it is true that a series of “Synodical mini-conventions” are being held in the various Districts, then each of these Synodical mini-conventions has all the rights and powers of a full convention which means that other business can be transacted. How one would go about transacting that business at this point of time would be problematic from a procedural point of view – but it may be possible.
Moving on, CCMS RULING, Sept 2018, Nominations from the Floor is a bit more involved. I wrote an article about nominations from the floor and you can read here. I won’t re-hash the article beyond saying that a cursory review of the CCMS decision seems to line up with my analysis.
I would note that there’s a hierarchy of authority within the corporate body:
- Statutory Bylaws
- Synodical Bylaws
- Synod Resolutions
Each resolution – including Resolution 17.04.01a cited by this opinion – is only in effect so far as it is within the bounds of the various corporate documents it derives its authorty from. I contend that Resolution 17.04.01a is not, and at this late date the only way out of this conundrum is for the CCMS to render decision effectively legislating from the bench and amending the corporate documents so these elections will be legal.