Constitutional Amendments approved by Convention now on to the Congregations

Posted a couple of days ago on LCMSnews, the constitutional amendments have been mailed to the congregations and are going through the process of congregational approval. Congregations have until March 15th to return their ballots saying approve or reject the two amendments. The information can be found here. For approval of these amendments, two-thirds of the congregations submitting ballots must approve each of the changes.

Resolution 8-10, “To Amend Constitution Articles X and XI,” received the required two-thirds vote during Session 12 of the 2010 convention [Yes: 796; No: 305]. It amended Articles X and XI by changing the title of “Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer” to “Chief Financial Officer” and made this an appointed position.

Resolution 8-27, “To Add a New Article XIV,” was adopted by the required two-thirds vote during Session 12 of the 2010 convention [Yes: 762; No: 346]. It added a new Article XIV to the Constitution to clarify the relationship between the Bylaws and the Constitution, renumbering former Article XIV accordingly.

From Today’s Business:

Congregations Walking Together in Mission and Served by a Flexible National Office
To Amend Constitution Articles X and XI
TF Report (CW TFR, pp. 39–44)

WHEREAS, Resolution 8-08 realigned the national office for more effective ministry; and

WHEREAS, The Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer will be appointed by the Board of Directors and given the title Chief Financial Officer; therefore be it

Resolved, That Articles X and XI be amended as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, pp. 163–165).

From Today’s Business:

Congregations Walking Together in Mission by Clarifying the Priority of the Constitution
To Add A New Article XIV
TF Report (CW TFR, p. 44)

WHEREAS, There are no Articles in the Constitution that clarify that if a bylaw adopted by simple majority vote serves to confuse or contradict the Constitution of the Synod, the Constitution will “trump” the bylaw; and

WHEREAS, There is a need to clarify the relationship between the Bylaws and the Constitution of the Synod; therefore be it

Resolved, A new Article XIV to the Constitution be adopted to satisfy this need, as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, p. 167).

The actual constitutional changes are found here.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Constitutional Amendments approved by Convention now on to the Congregations — 31 Comments

  1. I am concerned about this as well. As a convention delegate, I voted against this, as well as, many other resolutions brought forward by committee #8. It will be interesting to see how the new President and his staff handle these many changes that put way too much power at the top and took it out of the hands of the Synod in Convention. Truly, they are in need of our daily prayers.

    Also, watch for this come as well. Resolution 8-30B (to study Article VI of the Constitution) and Resolution 8-32B (to study Article VII of the Constitution). Note how these resolutions were “dumbed down” from the original wordings. Note also how we are to “study them for possible change” and the change in wording that was originally proposed in the convention workbook. Again, our leaders are in need of our daily prayers, and we as the people on the grassroots level need to step up and educate ourselves and our lay people.

  2. This is a position that needs particular expertize. It is better to hire the best that can be found than use the election process. The Board of Directors needs ever to review and make sure the CFO is working properly and giving them the correct information.
    My son is the CFO for my town. He reports to the City Council. He is not to be a politician but have the needed skills. The State audits him on one side and the City Council on the other. And that process protects him as well.

  3. My ballot arrived today!!! 🙂 Now let us have some serious consideration as to whether to vote for or against. I did not vote at convention for either! So of course my initial reaction would be to tell my two congregations to vote negative. I would appreciate someone giving me some solid Scriptural, Confessional reasons to vote positive.

  4. Proposed text: Article XIV. Bylaws: “The Synod in convention may adopt bylaws that are consistent with and do not contradict the Constitution of the Synod, which controls and supersedes such bylaws and all other rules and 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.”

    And just who determines whether a bylaw is consistent with (i.e., not confusing) and does not contradict the Constitution of the Synod?!? An entirely appointed organization, who would now have the ability to declare any convention-passed bylaw to limit CCM power or anything else as invalid because it is inconsistent with and contradicting the Constitution.

    Bylaw 7. 1 already states “Amendments to the Bylaws may be made using one of two procedures, provided they are not contrary to the Constitution of the Synod.”

    Furthermore, Bylaw 7.1.1 (c) also states any proposed bylaws shall be examined by the Commission on Constitutional Matters prior to presentation to the convention to determine that
    they are not in conflict with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod.”

    So, the concerns expressed in Resolution 8-27 are taken care of.

    And even if the CCM screws up (Wow, when has that ever occurred!?!) and let’s a bad bylaw through, Bylaw 7.1.2 states that in exceptional cases and at the “express direction of a convention of the Synod, amendments may be made [to a bylaw] by a two-thirds majority of the Board of Directors.” This should be sufficient, and work to prevent any small group from effectively taking over control of the Constitution and Bylaws.

    By the congregations approving such a proposed Art. XIV text into the Constitution, the CCM has been given power that could only be removed by a 2/3-vote at the convention and a subsequent 2/3 vote by member congregations.

    Resolution 8-27 should be voted down overwhelmingly!

  5. With President Harrison and his adminstration having to deal with the 8-08A restructuring FUBAR, congregations should vote down 8-10 until it is demonstrated (maybe in three years) that such a change to a CFO is beneficial and compatible with the restructuring efforts that will have occurred up to then.

    There is no reason to change the Constitution at this time.

  6. But the real question is what happens if we reject 8-10? The bylaws have been changed by convention, does that mean that the BOD will have to change them back? I presume then POS will then have to appoint a person to take the VP-Finance role, since there’s no way to get the convention to do it again.

  7. If the new bylaws were written in such a way as to require the approval of the Constitutional changes in order to avoid conflict with the Constitution, the CCM would have failed in its 7.1.1. responsibilities.

    If such were the case, Bylaw 7.1.2 would need to be used. One would also expect the resignations of all CCM members.

  8. @Carl Vehse #5

    Mr. Vehse:

    As you deftly pointed out, RES 8-27 isn’t needed to permit the Synod to adopt bylaws consistent with the Constitution: existing Constitution and Bylaw language readily permits that. That language in RES 8-27 is not necessary, although redundancy doesn’t always hurt.

    RES 8-27 also defines the relationship between the Constitution and Bylaws, stating that the Constitution is superior. We should agree on that. And again, redundancy is not always bad.

    However, there are two interesting points with the proposed amendment–one good, one possibly bad:

    (a) The Amendment states that the Constitution is superior both to the bylaws and to all other rules and regulations the Synod may adopt. That goes beyond simply saying that bylaws must be consistent with the Constitution. It also indicates that any sub-bylaw policy that the Synod adopts must be consistent with the Constitution. That may actually be a good thing to include in our governing document.

    (b) The Amendment also states that Bylaws will require a majority vote for approval. This would be codified into the Constitution, making any change to it later requiring the same 2/3 delegate approval and 2/3 congregation approval. Given the rancor that existed concerning adopting wholesale changes through bylaw amendments gaining 51% vote, it may be a bad idea to codify that majority into the Constitution. If the Amendment would be adopted, then a possible change to our governing documents that would require supermajority votes to amend bylaws would have to go through a much more stringent process. I’m not sure I want to codify majority-vote adoption of bylaws in the language of the Constitution.

    Interestingly, Mr. Christian Preus attempted to change the proposed language but was prevented from doing so by the CCM at the Convention. If I recall correctly, his change would have included removal of the bylaw adoption language from the Amendment—the very issue raised in my point b above. That part of the Amendment gives me pause concerning endorsement of approval, but I don’t know if it rises to the level of opposition.

  9. Anyone remember what happened the last time the congregations failed to approve of a change by the 2/3 needed to approve convention action? They powers-that-be acted like it didnt really matter that they didnt get the 2/3 anyway.

  10. I was concerned about the rationale for this change as expressed to me by a prominent leader of Jesus First and supporter of the former President: “It is essential for the President to have a totally unified leadership team.”

    I thought numbers were numbers, and accounting an objective profession. It seems to me irrelevant if the Treasurer happens to personally disagree on some issues with the President. In fact sometimes it is helpful for a leader to have diverse viewpoints represented in his “leadership team,” which historian Doris Kearns Goodwin considers the genius of Lincoln in her book “Team of Rivals”.

  11. @Kebas #13
    “I was concerned about the rationale for this change as expressed to me by a prominent leader of Jesus First and supporter of the former President: ‘It is essential for the President to have a totally unified leadership team.'”

    Your concerns were/are well-founded. Why would someone from a “Gospel centered, future-oriented, mission-focused” (or whatever it is) organization want to see such concentation of power? It seems inimical to all that JF stands for, especially the Gospel, does it not? On the other hand many of the JF-ers are big into PLI, so maybe I’m missing something here. Somehow it just doesn’t make sense to add “power-hungry” to the rest of the JF motto. However, based on what we’ve witnessed in the politcal arena, perhaps accounting isn’t so objective, after all….

    Any way you slide it, there will have to a lot of corrective action taken at the 2013 convention. I hope nobody thinks it’s “Matthew-mandering.”


  12. There is nothing wrong with the first sentence of the amendment proposed by 8-27. It is the other sentences that are puzzling. I have spoken to some who asked members of the CCM what those other sentences meant and why they were there. These members of the CCM reportedly said they didn’t have a clue what those other sentences meant, but they did not contradict other parts of the constitution.

    If the CCM doesn’t know what these sentences mean, why should we adopt them?

  13. @Mrs. Hume #1

    It is important to realize that the “head bean counter” 😉 will be appointed by the BoD. This is a done deal due to the Bylaw change directed by Resolution 8-39 (Tuesday’s Today’s Business p470). The constitutional amendment of Res 8-10 is only a name change. The constitution only states that such a position exists, not how it is filled. Given that this position does not have VP powers and is now appointed similar to the CMO and CAO positions, the name change to CFO is appropriate. Whether or not this amendment is approved will not affect the workings of the office.

  14. The Bylaws were changed (on a vote of 576 – 534) to describe the duties of a “Chief Financial Officer,” of which position the Constitution simply does not mention (unless the constitutional revision is passed by a 2/3 vote.

    Vote NO on the Res. 8-10 constitutional change! This will force the BOD to implement Bylaw 7.1.2 (unless there is a >2/3 congregational vote on Res. 8-27).

    The members of the CCM should also be asked to submit their resignations and the BRTFSSG should be asked to apologize for proposing such a mess. These would be positive results coming out of this, because PResident Harrison would get to name mew members to the CCM.

    Or the Missouri Synod congregations can show they can make even more incompetent decisions on Resolutions than the convention delegates did by passing both constitutional changes.

  15. @Carl Vehse #17

    And what would the BoD do according to Bylaw 7.1.2 if 8-10 was not ratified? They would use the old title instead of CFO. After all, the old title was used throughout the Whereas and Resolved sections of Res 8-39 which called for the position to be appointed and not elected. The position would still be appointed though. Oh, I can already hear your complaints if this should come to pass: “The BoD has ignored the will of the congregations and made the Treasurer appointed.” I stress again, the question of appointing or electing the Treasurer/CFO is not before the congregations.

    Believe it or not, I am generally on your side. In my opinion, at convention we won the battle for the elections but lost the battle on organization. The two constitutional amendments before the congregations have no real meat to them. As they say, it is what it is. I am concerned that congregations upset with the passage of 8-08 will take out their frustration on these two amendments. This would only prolong the argument with no opportunity to implement any real change. It makes little difference in whether these amendments are ratified are not. Just don’t be lulled into the belief that if they are defeated, the organizational changes approved in convention will be affected in any significant way.

    When I read the rest of your comment, I have to question what else you wish to argue about: Asking the members of the CCM to resign; asking the BRTFSSG to apologize; the past incompetence of the delegates; the possible upcoming incompetence of the congregations. To what end do you make these inflammatory, divisive, and argumentative statements?

    These are not the battles that matter. In addition to the doctrinal issues in the church we should also be watching closely the roll-out of 8-08 and preparing for the next convention. The organizational changes are sweeping and we should be prepared to make adjustments as/if needed. If we wish to participate in these upcoming discussions we can’t keep dragging the discussion back to beat the old dead horse. Please help President Harrison obtain his other goals: reconciliation/unification.

  16. Kelly,

    If the congregations do not approve 8-10, the BOD cannot change the constitution, so they will have to change the bylaws in a minimal way to coincide with the current constitution until the convention can straighten out the mess in 2013. One way is to just have the financial name in the bylaws match the VP – Financal title in the constitution. The revised procedures, whether they are better then the old bylaws, will have to remain until changed by the convention.

  17. Res. 8-39 should have had verbage tying it to Res. 8-10, so that if 8-10 did not pass the 2/3 congregation vote, the conflicting title would revert to the old constitutional title of “Vice President- Finance- Treasurer.” It didn’t. The CCM was to make sure such resolutions with potential conflict didn’t get to the convention floor. They didn’t.

    If 8-10 fails, the BOD will have to carry out (and spend more time and $$ on) 7.1.2, which involves getting approval from the convention delegates to eliminate the contradiction. I don’t know whether this approval can be obtained remotely (e.g. VTC, email, letters, etc.) or whether another gathering of the delegates in one place is required.

    In any case the members of the CCM should be urged to resign. This will be a definite synodical improvement.

  18. @Carl Vehse #21

    Agreed, the scope of changes was very aggressive. I think floor committee 8 was embarrassed that their verbiage was not always consistent. Many of the resolutions were interrelated or covered common sections of the founding documents. Part of the problem is that some things never made it to the floor and some items that were brought were rejected. This forced them to rework other resolutions during convention and caused a lot of confusion.

    Regarding approval by the convention delegates for the BoD to make amendments to the Bylaws, the committee was proactive. Hence Res 8-12A from Monday’s Today’s Business p427 was approved. This grants the BoD the authority to make the necessary Bylaw changes related to floor committee 8.

    As we both noted, all this controversy over what now amounts to a title change. That’s why I prefer (but not demand) ratification. There is no doctrinal concern, very little organizational impact, but an opportunity to put this to rest and move on. If ratified, the issue is resolved, the BoD does not employ 7.1.2 (in this case) and, therefore, there is no opportunity to raise a complaint on the BoD response to the will of the congregations.

    The 2010 convention was very divisive as the vote totals indicate on many resolutions and election ballots. Let’s work to close the lid on this Pandora’s box and refocus on the future where there are bigger fish to fry.

  19. For what it is worth, let me be clear on my position on these amendments. I consider them of only minimal significance. Whether they are approved or rejected will have little impact on the direction of the synod. What discussion these amendments warrant should focus on the facts. What I strongly oppose is this becoming a wedge issue at the Congregational level. Please help me in this regard.

    Being a lay delegate, I’ve already been contacted by one of my churches asking for a recommendation. He planned to oppose them because Pres. Harrison opposes them. I asked where he had heard this. I informed him that while Pr. Harrison opposed the sweeping organizational changes, as far as I knew, he had not issued a statement on the amendments. Furthermore, I stated that these amendments were very very limited in scope and would not affect the organizational structure implemented at convention. This changed his whole outlook on the amendments.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there. Let’s make sure the congregations are correctly informed so that they can make a knowledgeable decision, whatever the outcome. It would be horrible if the congregations defeated the amendments under the mistaken assumption that the organizational changes would all go away.

  20. Kelly,

    Res. 8-27 is NOT “of only minimal significance”; it should be defeated because it is poisonous to the synodical polity. The defeat of 8-10, which involves a change in title, would be more of a confirming symbolic defeat of the kind of sloppiness that the new Harrison administration has now replaced.

  21. OK, question. If measure B passes, is section 7.1.2 of the bylaws thereby invalidated?


    1. measure B says that the bylaws are amended by the synod in convention.

    2. therefore, 7.1.2, which says bylaws may be amended by the BoD as directed by the S-i-C, is now contrary to the constitution. (The constitutions doesn’t say “or by the …. as directed…””, it authorizes one and only one method of amendment.)

    3. so, have I missed something? by approving this measure, we lose (maybe that’s a good thing?) the flexibility of the convention directing the BoD to make amendments to the bylaws, yes, no, maybe so?

  22. That’s a good question, Joe! Currently the Constitution does not define how bylaws are changed; the bylaws do. Bylaw 7.1 allows two different procedures for changing bylaws.

    If 8-27 passes, the Constitution will then specify only that “the Synod in convention may adopt bylaws.” Furthermore, such bylaws are binding on the Synod, which would also prevent the BOD from changing them according to 7.1.2.

    Other than a synodical convention, only the CCM will have the power to alter bylaws by opining a conflict between the Constitution and the Bylaws such that the Bylaw is superceded by what the Constitution means according to the CCM’s opinion.

    BTW, it is not a good idea for the convention to be giving the BOD blanket approval to change bylaws at the same time the convention approves the bylaw. That they do is an indication the bylaws should not have been approved until after more a more thorough review.

  23. Carl,

    I think the perceived significance of 8-27 is proportional to one’s cynicism. Maybe I tend to be too trusting to the point that some would call me naive. But I just don’t fear a statement to the effect that the Constitution trumps the Bylaws. I take comfort that the decision is being made by a community and not just you and I alone. Regarding the second sentence on the mean(s) of amending the Bylaws, this could have been clearer. I am not sure that the statement implies that it’s the only method of making amendments. Stinking legalese! It’s ironic that a statement dealing with conflicts between the Constitution and the Bylaws may itself cause conflict.

    I also find it ironic that you believe that defeating 8-10 is a statement against sloppiness. This would leave us with the VP-Finance-Treasurer title. This VP-F/T is the only VP with no VP powers: not in line of succession to the president; not a member of the Council-of-Presidents; not a member of the Praesidium. Retaining the VP title requires all these exceptions. Furthermore, if 8-10 is defeated we have the new oddity that the VP-F/T will be the only member (albeit non-voting as before) of the BoD who is not elected but appointed. That should drive the cynics nuts! 😉 I see approval as less sloppy.

    Between the two of us we’ve done a good job of presenting both sides of the issues and I’ve pretty much “talked” myself out, so I’ll close with over-and-out.

  24. Carl,

    Ah nuts, there was one other comment. I whole-heartedly agree with your negative opinion of giving the BoD blanket approval to change Bylaws at the same time the Bylaws are introduced. Such a policy encourages laziness in both the floor committees and the convention delegates.

  25. @Kelly #16

    Thanks for the info, Kelly.

    Really it seems almost silly to have congregations vote on nothing more than a name change from treasurer to CFO. If the convention could make a substantive change like changing from elected to appointed without asking congregations, it seems they would have the ability to make a non-substantive change to the title as well.

  26. But I just don’t fear a statement to the effect that the Constitution trumps the Bylaws.

    Neither do I. But the issue here is the fact that the two resolutions are either dangerous or badly worded and should not be passed by the congregations. In addition to what I have previously pointed out about the dangers of 8-27, there is another problem now evident.

    If 8-27 is passed by the congregations, then it will prevent 8-12A and Bylaw 7.1.2 from being implemented if 8-10 is not passed. Because the “Constitution trumps the Bylaws” (per 8-27), the approved, but conflicting bylaws (in 8-39) must be changed to agree with the constitution, but by whom? The BOD can’t, according to the constitutional change from 8-27. Sloppiness? How about plain ol’ fouled up beyond all recognition?

    Shame on the delegates who approved of these resolutions!

  27. The Wild Boar in the Forest blog has a thread on “Constitutional Ammendment [sic] A“, which points out for Resolution 8-10 that:

    It actually removes the references to the VP-F-T from the constitution entirely. This means that the bylaws alone will determine the title, or even the existence, of the position. A future convention could decide to name him ‘Chief Financial Officer’ (as suggested in the amendment description) or ‘Grand Poobah of Filthy Lucre and evil Mammon’ or even ‘Silly-Diddums-Cuddles the First of Anvilania’ without further congregational approval.

    One other thing noted was that, even though the constitution and bylaws had not been officially changed, there was no one (re)elected (as specified by Bylaw 3.2.1) to the still constitutionally existing position of Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer. A commenter noted that there were no nominations for the position (although I did see one name in the 2010 Convention Handbook (p. 30).

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