Proposed Resolutions: Committee 8, Structure and Governance, 8-01 through 8-12 (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

We continue with the 106 proposed resolutions from the eight floor committees, as found in “Today’s Business.” To see the previous articles in this series, go to Henrickson’s blog at steadfastlutherans.org.

After our previous Introduction and Overview, we now begin a quick look at the actual resolutions proposed by Floor Committee 8, Synod Structure and Governance. We start with the first 12 of their 34 proposed resolutions:

8. SYNOD STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE

8-01: To Amend Article V of the Constitution

Compared to bylaw changes, constitutional amendments have a higher bar to hurdle: two-thirds approval at the convention, and then two-thirds ratification by the congregations that respond (compared to a simple majority at the convention for bylaws). So most of the proposed constitutional amendments are “backloaded” in the later resolutions of Committee 8. But this proposal to amend Article V is put at the head of the line.

What is not stated in the “Resolved”–it’s buried in the back of the book–is that this amendment would allow “commissioned ministers” to take the place of ordained pastors as voting delegates to conventions of the Synod, thus fundamentally changing Missouri’s historic clergy-laity balance at our conventions. This amendment would be needed to enable later resolutions on convention delegates. NO.

8-02: To Restore Circuits to Their Primary Purpose

This is a prime example of a nice-sounding title disguising a significant shift in power. It’s misleading, because there is nothing preventing circuits now from “promoting the unity of faith” and “carrying on mission and ministry.” But what this resolution would do–again, it’s buried in the back of the book–would be to take away the right of circuits to elect their own delegates to national conventions! It would eliminate electoral circuits! Also, circuits could be formed by criteria other than geography, so you would probably have “church-growth” circuits that don’t want to associate with bothersome “traditional” congregations–when, really, we need to be talking to one another more. NO.

8-03: To Elect Circuit Counselors

The district president “shall nominate” candidates for circuit counselor? More power to the DPs. Greater likelihood for “yes men.” NO.

8-04: To Enhance District Convention Representation

This resolution would change the historic clergy-laity balance of delegates to our conventions, by making “commissioned ministers” eligible to supplant ordained pastors as voting delegates. On top of that, it would give extra votes to larger congregations, thus reducing the power of smaller to mid-size congregations, contrary to Missouri’s traditional view that a congregation is a congregation is a congregation. NO.

8-05: To Elect Delegates to the Synod Convention

Delegates to national conventions would no longer be elected at the circuit forums (see 8-02), but rather at the district conventions. Power is being moved away from the grassroots level of congregations and circuits and moved up the ladder to the district level. Your circuit might not get any delegates. NO.

8-06: To Give Priority to Circuit and District Overtures

This proposal is pretty laughable, since President Kieschnick’s floor committees have repeatedly declined overtures precisely passed by multiple circuits and entire districts! Also, some of the new limiting language in the back of the book could lead to more overtures not getting published. And not mentioned in the resolution itself, but buried in the back of the book in the actual bylaw changes (3.1.6.2.4; TB, p. 233) is this new provision: The synod president could submit his own overtures! Too much power to the president! For that reason alone, this resolution should be defeated. NO.

8-07: To Study Future District Function and Configuration

This one would not be so bad, since it would only “study” and not change anything yet. Some district reconfigurations might be OK (e.g., absorbing English and SELC congregations into their respective geographic districts). But it would create another task force. And it could produce “turf wars.” But it’s not a big deal if it does or doesn’t pass. MAYBE.

8-08: To Realign the National Synod Ministries Around Two Mission Boards

Along with 8-02 and 8-05, this might be the worst resolution of the bunch. It would eliminate elected, administrative program boards, and in their place create two new “mission offices,” reporting to the president. Forget the talk of “silos”; even the consultants’ report says that’s not a problem. If 8-08 passes, power moves away from the Synod in convention and flows into the hands of the synod president–an enormous amount of power! More “efficient”? Yes. But at the cost of checks-and-balances, and it would vastly increase the power of the president. NO.

8-09: To Develop Process for Developing Quadrennial Mission and Ministry Emphases

“Synod-wide mission and ministry emphases”? Don’t know that this would do much. MAYBE.

8-10: To Amend Constitution Articles X and XI

Treasurer appointed instead of elected? (See also 8-08.) More power moving away from the Synod in convention. NO.

8-11: To Adopt Process Leading to Consideration of New Name for Synod

Silly and unnecessary. Over 163 years, “Missouri Synod” has developed a reputation we should be proud of. It stands for our confessional commitment, and there is no need to change it–not to mention all the costs involved. NO.

8-12: To Direct the Board of Directors to Amend the Bylaws as Necessary

I’m wary of how this “elastic” power might be used, and this resolution assumes we will be making all these bylaw changes–which, I hope, we won’t. NO.

Next: Continuing at 8-13.


Comments

Proposed Resolutions: Committee 8, Structure and Governance, 8-01 through 8-12 (by Pr. Charles Henrickson) — 6 Comments

  1. Chuck,

    Thanks for your synopses, they are helpful. A few things,

    Res 8-08 I think we should constantly remind people that this resolution would break up World Relief and Human Care, a Board which has done fantastic work this past decade.

    Res 8-10 Not only makes the treasurer an appointed position, it REMOVES the treasurer as a member of the Board of Directors. Page 165, line 24 just crosses out the treasurer. The BOD is supposed to approve budgets and allocate funds. That’ll be interesting with the treasurer not present.

    8-04 Relates to District conventions. It not only changes the historic lay-clergy balance, by allowing a commissioned minister to serve as the clergy vote. The comm minister could also serve as the lay vote (Page 312, line 24). The four votes a larger congregation receives, only one has to be lay. More power to the “professionals” and potentially less lay. Yet . .

    8-05 Look at the 2nd Whereas (page 136, line 43) for Res 8-05, in that Whereas they say “it is fundamental to our understanding that congregations have equal voice through two representatives, a lay member and an individual member of the Synod, thus preseving the lay-clergy vote.” They want to destroy it in 8-04 for District conventions and preserve it in 8-05 for national conventions. (And it is not really preserved as the “clergy” vote is considered an “individual member” – clergy or commissioned minister.)

  2. Regarding 8-12 –

    1. Empowers the Board of Directors to write and implement bylaw wording changes “that implement the spirit of the resolutions involved in the restructuring of the Synod as adopted by the 2010 convention.” What is the “spirit of the resolutions?” As pointed out by @Conv. Delegate #1, 8-05 upholds the “fundamental… understanding that congregations have equal voice through two representatives,” but 8-04 works against that understanding.

    2. Does not have a sunset provision – if the BoD finds an ambiguity in the bylaws in 8-12 years, under this resolution, they will still have the power to change the bylaws without a resolution from the Synod in convention.

    3. As I understand it, the authority in 7.1.2 is intended for those resolutions where specific bylaw wording is not adopted, e.g. should the Synod decide to create a Board for Clergy Haberdashery to assist pastors in being appropriately attired while doing their pastor thing, the Convention can delegate the actual wording of the by-law to the BoD. Has this bylaw EVER been invoked/implemented when specific bylaw wording was adopted by the Synod in Convention?

    4. I thought we have had plenty of time to go over these recommendations with a fine toothed comb. How can there be so many potential “gaps or ambiguities” as to warrant passage of this resolution? Could it be that we haven’t had enough review of these proposals?

  3. Excuse my ignorance on all this.
    Is it just me, or is this starting to look like the Counsel of Nicaea? The “battle” between Arius & Alexander?
    I had to go back & start at Wikipedia to reaquaint myself, but just looking there, the parallels are strikingly familiar.
    Or is it just me?

  4. Dear all,

    Notice I have just edited my paragraph on 8-06 and changed my vote from MAYBE to NO. And the reason is in what I have added: “And not mentioned in the resolution itself, but buried in the back of the book in the actual bylaw changes (3.1.6.2.4; TB, p. 233) is this new provision: The synod president could submit his own overtures! Too much power to the president! For that reason alone, this resolution should be defeated. NO.”

  5. @Charles Henrickson #4
    Only in business does the top get to make the rules. Even in the worst government, the pretense of ” the people” is maintained via representatives being the ones to submit overtures. The SP is not The Pope nor is Synod to be a business. We are a gathering of congregations and clergy for the preaching of the Word and right administration of the Sacraments. Nothing more, nothing less.

  6. Re; Res 8-07 this is clearly a foot in the door strategy. What might this impact down the road?

    Thank you for these articles!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.