Moving to the normal convention, the Statutory Bylaws mandate a convention every four years so one has to be held in 2021. The Board can’t amend the Bylaws to change the date, conventions need a long lead time to arrange, the way the pandemic is unfolding makes the feasibility of a Fall 2021 in-person convention questionable, so what’s a Board to do?
In the Canadian Lutheran’s article “LCC Special Convention Notice” the author of the notice argues that
“There is nothing in the 2017 Handbook to prohibit an online or virtual convention.”
Here’s the thing – there’s nothing in the 2017 Handbook that allows for an on-line / virtual convention either.
Since Synod’s founding, the nature and form of the Convention has always been in person, and I’d argue that is implicit in the language of the document – “present”, “attend”, etc. Virtual meetings via webex, GotoMeeting, Zoom, and the like are nothing new, and if Synod wanted to allow for virtual conventions it could’ve specified it in the 2017 handbook the way they did for Board meetings under Bylaw 13.02:
13.02 If all the directors consent thereto generally or in respect of a particular meeting, a director may participate in a meeting of the Board or of a committee of the Board by means of such conference telephone or other communications facilities as permit all persons participating in the meeting to hear each other, and a director participating in such a meeting by such means is deemed to be present at the meeting.
Though I’m not a lawer, in my experience when someone tries to play the “not prohibited” card to when the governing documents specifically address the proposed practice in another context, the clear implication is that the proposed “not prohibited” change is prohibited by omission.
In LCC’s case, Synod in Convention has mandated that Board meetings are to be held in a certain way. It also specified that Board members can participate in Board meetings electronically as long as the rest of the Board consents.
When it comes to conventions, Synod has never allowed delegates to remotely participate in a convention. In point of fact, delegates not only had to be physically present at a convention, they’ve had to sit in a certain area set aside just for delegates.
This means that, as a matter of policy and practice, remote participation in syodical conventions has never been allowed. If remote attendance is prohibited then on-line conventions are “not a thing” until the Bylaws are amended to a) permit that practice and b) provide the high-level detail of what that format would look like and who is responsible for implementing it.