Reading the convention workbook has turned up some interesting tidbits – but I never anticipated finding this report.
“Due to an oversight as a result of the restructuring of our Synod at the last convention, current provisions in the 2017 Handbook for the number of memebers on the Commission on Adjudication do not meet the requirements for the COA to do its work. As a result, the COA was not able to meet or function. The CCMS intends to correct this error at our 2022 convention.”
Here’s what the 2017 handbook has to say on the COA membership:
a. Election and Appointment
The Convention shall elect two rostered workers, a lay person shall be appointed by each regional pastor. Of the appointed members at least one (but not more than two) shall be a lawyer.
Here’s the requirement for hearing cases:
7.51 Case Panels
a. Membership of Case Panel
Each case coming before the Commission shall be heard and decided by a panel of at least five Members, at least two of whom shall be pastors and at least two of whom shall be laymen, including at least one lawyer. The members of the case panel shall be selected by the Chairman of the Commission on Adjudication.
First, from this cursory examination, the number of members is the same as the number needed for a case panel if the entire Commission served on any given case panel, so that’s not the problem. The COA needs to provide specifics for why they say they couldn’t meet.
Second, if the CCMS can change the definition of what a delegate is and justify a virtual convention when the handbook does not allow for one, then it can certainly ‘fix’ a problem where the handbook doesn’t allow for a Commission to have sufficient membership to do its required work.
Third, if this was a known issue back in 2017, then why wasn’t it on the agenda to be fixed during the virtual conventions that’ve been held since 2017?
Fourth, if a Commission doesn’t meet for 5 years – is really doing anything useful for Synod? What’s the point?
One postive proposed handbook change is removing the COAs ability to arbitrarily refuse to hear any case or limit its decision. (7.041.e).
The COA still has its old get-out-of-jail-free pass wherein it can refuse to hear a case if there’s a pending a case in the legal system (7.043). What this means is that if a member is charged with a crime the COA – which is responsible for expelling a member from membership – can decline to hear the case until the criminal proceeding is concluded. This effectively leaves a potential criminal in place and declines to deliver justice to the member or the membership.
It also means that if one member commits a civil or criminal offence against another member and refuses to make things right, the offended person has a choice – either forfeit their legal remedies and wait for the COA to render a decision, or pursue legal remedy knowing the COA will decline to hear the case leaving the offending member as a Synodical member in good standing.