The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance Proposals for the 2010 Synodical Convention, From the Final Report (www.lcms.org)
Section One: THE CONFESSIONAL MISSION AND PURPOSE
Recommendation #1: Affirm and Clarify Governing Documents
Amplify, affirm, and clarify the Preamble of the Synod’s Constitution (Reasons for the Existence of a Synod), Article II (Confession), Article III (Mission and Purpose), Article VI (Requirements of Membership), and Article VII (Relation of Synod and Its Members).
Section Two: THE LOCAL CONGREGATION IN MISSION
Recommendation #2: Clarify the Congregational Principle
In order to advance Christ’s mission and clarify who we are by underscoring the essentially congregational character of the Synod, the role of the ordained and commissioned members (all associate members), and the participation of the laity in the life and work of the Synod, we recommend revising and clarifying Article V of the Synod’s Constitution into more contemporary and clarifying language. (Appendix 1, Pages 1.4 – 1.5, 1.12)
Section Three: CONGREGATIONS AND CIRCUITS
Recommendation #3: Restore Circuits to Their Primary Purpose
The task force recommends empowering the districts (they already have the responsibility of creating circuits) to consider not only geography as a criterion but also mission and demographic considerations to create these small ecclesial clusters of congregations for care, support, advice, ecclesiastical encouragement, service, coordination, and counsel toward the congregation’s participation in God’s mission. Because circuit counselors are the ecclesial extension of district presidents, the task force recommends that circuit counselors be nominated by district presidents in consultation with the respective district praesidium. The circuit forum (with an associate-member vote and a lay vote from each congregation of the circuit) shall elect the circuit counselor. These elections shall be ratified by the district convention, retaining the right to nominate from the floor. Due to the significant responsibilities borne by circuit counselors, retired pastors of the respective circuits are not only eligible but encouraged to offer themselves as candidates for this office.
The task force also recommends that regular circuit convocations, conferences, and forums be held to enable circuits to serve as local mission councils and as leadership avenues for in-depth study, influence, and persuasion by the Word of God. These gatherings would form the “grassroots” voice of the congregations, influencing the direction to be taken by the district and national Synod through overtures. This recommendation seeks to fully engage every congregation in the district. Circuits will no longer be used as “electoral groupings” unless a district so chooses. (See Recommendation #10)
Section Four: CONGREGATIONS AND DISTRICTS
Recommendation #4: Study Future District Configuration
The task force recommends that under convention-adopted criteria, the 2010 Synod convention direct the Synod President to convene a special task force to work in consultation with the Council of Presidents and the Synod’s Board of Directors to submit to the next Synod convention a recommendation with respect to the function, number, and configuration of districts, including the impact on funding the national Synod. The “Task Force On District Function, Number, and Configuration” should follow the direction given in Bylaw 184.108.40.206. The recommendations should include a transition plan for any property and personnel changes.
The task force shall be made up of three district presidents appointed by the Council of Presidents, three members of the Synod’s Board of Directors appointed by the Synod’s Board of Directors, one member from the Commission on Constitutional Matters appointed by the Synod President, one member of the Commission on Structure appointed by the Synod President, the Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance, the Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Funding the Mission (2006), three at-large lay members appointed by the Synod President, the Chief Financial Officer of the Synod, and the Chief Administrative Officer. The chairman of the task force shall be appointed by the Synod President.
Recommendation #5: Allow Commissioned Ministers to Serve as Voting Delegates at District Conventions
The task force recommends that every member congregation, regardless of size, shall be entitled to at least two voting representatives at district conventions. One of the voting delegates shall be a lay member of the congregation. The other voting delegate ordinarily (but not necessarily) will be a called pastor of the congregation, but also could be any associate member of the Synod who is a member of the congregation from which he or she is chosen. (See Recommendation #2 and Appendix 1, Page 1.69)
Recommendation #6: Establish Congregational Representation at District Conventions
Each member congregation involved in a multi-parish situation shall be represented by an associate member and lay member, with no associate member having more than one vote. Congregations with pastoral office vacancies shall be represented by the pastor called to provide vacancy/interim pastoral service or an associate member and the congregation’s lay representative(s). Again, no pastor or associate member shall have more than one vote at a convention. Congregations with more than 1,000 confirmed members shall be represented by two additional delegates, at least one being a layperson.
A limited number of non-voting special guests may be invited by a district president to attend one or more sessions of the convention, and also may be invited to speak to the convention on one or more issues. All associate members not having a vote may attend the convention and are eligible to have a voice. (Appendix 1, Pages 1.10 and 1.69)
Section Five: CONGREGATIONS AND NATIONAL REGIONS
Recommendation #7: Establish Five Geographical Regions in the Synod
Create five geographic regions within the Synod. As the districts are themselves reconfigured (Recommendation #4), these regions also may have to be reconfigured.
Recommendation #8: Nominate Part-Time Synod Vice Presidents from The Five Regions in the Synod
The congregations of each of the five regions within the Synod (Recommendation #7) shall nominate from their regions candidates for the position of part-time Synod vice president. From these nominations, the Synod in convention would elect a vice president from each region. (Appendix 1, Page 1.66 – 1.67)
Section Six: CONGREGATIONS AND THE NATIONAL SYNOD
Group 1: National Convention Recommendations
Recommendation #9: Amend the Frequency of District and National Conventions
District and national conventions shall be held in a four-year cycle
Year One: Circuits may hold theological convocations
Year Two: Districts shall hold theological convocations
Year Three: District conventions shall be held
Year Four: National Synod convention shall be held
Recommendation #10: District Conventions will Elect Delegates to the National Convention
From a pool of district convention voting delegates as the primary source, each district shall during its convention elect an appropriate number of delegates to represent its congregations at the next year’s national convention. Congregations are urged to send delegates to their respective district conventions who are willing and able to serve also as delegates to the national convention. Each district shall determine how its apportioned number of delegates will be elected according to proposed Bylaw 220.127.116.11. (Appendix 1, Pages 1.23 – 1.27)
Recommendation #11: Fix the Number of National Delegates at 650
Set a fixed number of national convention delegates at 650. This smaller number of delegates (approximately half the current size) will engender a significant cost savings for the congregations of the Synod, enable delegates to be more deeply involved in the convention process, and allow adequate representation of the interests of the congregations at the national convention. Also, eliminate the category of “advisory delegates” to the national convention because all associate members will be allowed voice, vote, and representation through their congregations. The number of “non-voting representatives” will be determined by proposed Bylaw 3.1.2. (Appendix 1, Pages 1.23 and 1.27 – 1.29)
Recommendation #12: Establish Consistency in Terms of Office
All circuit, district, and national officers, as well as all board and commission members, shall be elected or appointed to four-year terms of office.
Recommendation #13: Increase Congregational Participation in the Election of
Synod President and First Vice President
All congregations shall participate not only in the nomination but also the election (first ballot) of the President of the Synod and in the nomination of the First Vice President. Also, steps should be taken to ensure that these two officers are complementary in their vision and goals for the church. (Appendix 1, Pages 1.63 – 1.66)
Recommendation #14: Ensure Regional Representation and Necessary Expertise Among the Members of the Synod‘s Board of Directors
The Synod’s Board of Directors shall be composed of 17 voting members:
· Five laypersons (one elected from each of the five regions)
· Five ordained ministers (one elected from each of the five regions)
· One commissioned minister elected at-large
· The Synod President
· Five at-large laypersons appointed by the elected Board of Directors members to
· obtain needed additional skill sets (legal, finance, investment, administration,
No two persons from any one category above shall be from the same district. The First Vice President, Secretary of the Synod, and Chief Financial Officer shall be non-voting members of the Board of Directors.
Recommendation #15: Implement a Process for Developing Quadrennial Synod Priorities and Goals
The church shall adopt a process for identifying Synod-wide mission and ministry emphases on a cycle consistent with the national convention schedule. LCMS ministries—congregations, schools, and agencies—will be encouraged to embrace the mission and ministry emphases between conventions by developing individual ministry goals that can be carried out by each entity. The mission and ministry emphases will provide a common focus for the entire LCMS as we engage in ministry together.
Recommendation #16: Give Priority to Circuit and District Overtures
Congregations are encouraged to submit overtures to their district conventions through circuit forums and to the national convention through their district conventions. Although all submitted overtures shall still be considered, resolutions from circuit forums and district conventions will receive priority at district and national conventions, respectively.
Recommendation #17: Emphasize the Importance of Doctrinal Resolutions and Doctrinal Statements
Doctrinal resolutions of special significance and doctrinal statements will require a two-thirds vote at Synod conventions.
Group 2: National Structure Recommendations
Recommendation #18: Realign the National Synod Ministries around Two Mission Commissions
The national Synod shall be realigned around two mission commissions:
· Commission on International Mission
· Commission on National Mission
Under this realignment, several areas of responsibility that currently are managed from the national office shall be transferred to the Synod’s districts and/or other entities.
Group 3: National Issue Recommendations
Recommendation #19: Clarify the Priority of the Constitution over the Bylaws
Add the following language, which shall be enumerated under Article XIV, to the Synod’s Constitution in order to clarify that the Constitution controls and supersedes the Bylaws and all other rules or regulations of the Synod.
Proposed language: Article XIV: “The Synod in convention may adopt Bylaws that are consistent with and do not contradict the Constitution of the Synod, which controls and supersedes the Bylaws and all other rules or regulations of the Synod. Bylaws, which may be adopted, revised, or eliminated by a simple majority vote of a national convention, are binding regulations for the Synod and its conduct and governance.” (Appendix 1, Page 1.11)
Recommendation #20: Adopt a Process Leading to the Renaming of the Synod
For the sake of confessional mission to an unchurched society, the Synod shall be renamed. Previous studies of this matter will continue to provide guidance as we move to reach consensus regarding a name that best serves the Synod’s mission and ministry.
Recommendation #21: Urge the Continued Study of Pastoral Certification/Continuing Education
The 2010 Synod convention shall mandate the Council of Presidents and the administration and faculties of the Synod’s seminaries to continue to study how best to certify clergy and hold them accountable for a reasonable lifetime of continuing professional education.
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