A Well Reasoned Comment on the Convention Before the Convention by Martin Noland

Marty Noland wrote an excellent comment on Klemet Preus’s post on the pre-convention convention. It is worth sharing with the all our readers in case you have not been following this string of comments. You can see the post and all the other comments by clicking here.

#25 by Martin R. Noland — September 25, 2009 @ 11:11 am

I am trying to understand what the calling of these meetings means.

First, they are not supposed to be “caucuses.” The term means meetings designed specifically to promote a candidate or issue prior to, or in the midst of, a legislative assembly. The president of synod stated that the purpose is only “to review” the final proposals, not to advocate for them. I assume he will adhere to that purpose.

Second, I don’t remember these meetings being part of the original plan for the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Third, I thought that two extra days were being added to the synodical convention, so that time would be provided for reviewing the proposals and discussing them, prior to taking action.

I believe that the meetings have been called due to the administration’s feeling of necessity, which is not possible for anyone else to assess, until we see the final proposals. That should be October 16th, at the lcms website.

One possibility is that the final proposals are so complex that a long review session is the only way people are going to understand them. This is what happens when you try to make too many changes in bylaws at once.

Another possibility is that the responses to district convention presentations were either negative or indifferent. As far as I know, probably two-thirds of the conventions went that way. This may have alerted the administration to the fact that the proposals will fail, unless they are more actively promoted to the actual people who will vote on them.

Another possibility is that the new electronic media, such as this web-site/blog, has been effective in dissecting the original proposals and their ideas, so that the administration realizes it needs a counter-action.

It would be too bad if the good proposals fail, because the bad proposals color the whole process. So having extra time to “digest and discuss” is a good thing, if it results in better educated delegates.

Although I am always in favor of more discussion, and a better educated set of delegates, the BIG PROBLEM HERE is the constitutionality of the meetings.

I don’t think the president has the authority to call such a series of meetings, on his own. The Special Sessions clause, Constitution VIII.B., is not being invoked and can’t be invoked in this case.

Bylaw 4.9.1 would allow the district presidents, in unison, to call such meetings which would “not be regarded as official conferences.” I assume that the president received the unanimous approval of the district presidents at a Council of Presidents meeting for these special caucuses. If not, the meetings are unconstitutional.

Furthermore, since they are not official conferences, NO ONE CAN BE ASSESSED COSTS FOR THE MEETINGS. Those who attend will have to bear their own costs, unless the synod Board of Directors or all the district Board of Directors voluntarily pay for these meetings out of their own budgets. I also don’t think there was provision for these meetings in the 2007 resolution, but my 2007 proceedings are still packed away, so I can’t answer that question for sure.

At the present time, synodical congregations or circuits cannot be assessed, unless the synodical convention delegates pass a resolution that approves an assessment for specific purposes (such as synod and district conventions, which is a standing practice). If the present action is allowed to stand, then the president of the synod (or Council of Presidents) will be allowed to assess congregations however and whenever they want. I think that the administration wants this power of unilateral assessment, and that may be one of the most significant powers it is seeking in the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Synodical Structure and Governance.

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