Handling 2010 Convention Resolutions 8-10 and 9-27

In our upcoming Voter’s Assembly (2-27-11), we will have a rare opportunity to respond to the actions of the 2010 National LCMS Convention, which passed two resolutions to amend the Constitution of the LCMS.    In order to become effective, amendments must receive a favorable two-thirds majority of all votes cast by congregations within six months of the date of the mailing of the ballots (March 15, 2011).  Please read carefully this summary of the two resolutions followed by my rationale and recommendation for our congregational vote.

Resolution 8-10, amended articles X and XI by changing the title of “Vice-President-Finance—Treasurer” to “Chief Financial Officer” and made this an appointed position.

I recommend that we vote AGAINST the proposed amendment for two reasons: 

  1. It removes a power (choosing the Treasurer of Synod) from the Convention that has stood the test of time without any problems, and
  2. The Treasurer would no longer be an officer of the Synod and a member of the Board of Directors.

I believe that this amendment was a small part of a larger scheme of the previous administration designed to move power away from the congregations/convention to the Office of the President.    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Resolution 9-27 added a new Article XIV to the Constitution  to clarify the relationship between the Bylaws and the Constitution.  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.

I recommend that we vote AGAINST the proposed amendment for two reasons:

  1. This amendment offers a confused and conflicted view of our Constitution and Bylaws, saying on the one hand that while Bylaws are controlled and superseded by the Constitution (which requires a two-thirds vote to be amended) it would on the other hand give Bylaws, which need only a simple majority, the elevated power of “binding regulations”, and
  2. These “binding regulations” threaten to effect members of Synod (congregations, Pastors, Teachers, Deacons, Parish Assistants, etc.) in a manner that seems to speak against the time-honored wording of Article VII: “In the relation to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive power, and with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government it is but an advisory body.

Accordingly, no resolution of the Synod imposing anything upon the individual congregation is of binding force if it is not in accordance with the Word of God or if it appears to be inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.”    What it boils down to for me is this: do we want 51% of any given convention dictating to Pastors and Congregations of the Synod bylaws that have the force of “binding regulations”?  I say “No, thank-you!”

By the way, ironically, our newly elected President, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, was OPPOSED to these massive structural changes and transfers of power.  We would honor and support his ministry by DEFEATING these two proposed amendments.    Please feel free to bring up any questions or concerns for further clarification that you might need before February 27.

Pr. Paul Becker      
Concordia Lutheran Church
Kingsport, Tennessee
Micah 7:19

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, LCMSsermons.com, 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 KNFA.net.


Handling 2010 Convention Resolutions 8-10 and 9-27 — 16 Comments

  1. For clarification, 8-10 does not make the position of Treasurer an appointed position. 8-08A did this. 8-10 changes the wording of the constitution with regard to the position.

  2. Both should be defeated as they erode a congregational and democratic form NOT because our Pres agrees with their defeat. I like Harrison but have always avoided any reference to the work of any clergy or church leader as “his” ministry as all ministry is Christ’s alone. ‘don’t mean to be nit picky…but

  3. Premise: The Synod is currently facing significant financial difficulties.
    Premise: The Board of Directors is responsible for the financial dealings of the Synod.
    Premise: No governing board should be without direct, unfiltered access to information regarding the financial health of the institution to which they have fiduciary responsibility.
    Premise: If the Treasurer (or CFO, as the name has been changed to according to the By-Laws) is not an advisory member of the Board of Directors, then the Board must create the position of and hire a full-time Auditor to provide up-to-date, independent information regarding the financial state of the Synod.
    Premise: The entire purpose of the Floor Committee 8 restructuring proposals was to reduce personnel and eliminate redundant staffing.
    Inference: While the amendments to Article X may be innocuous enough, the amendments to Article XI run counter to the purpose of Synodical Restructuring, good business practice, and common sense.
    Conclusion: The amendments proposed by Resolution 8-10 should be defeated by the congregations.

  4. Brian Yamabe :For clarification, 8-10 does not make the position of Treasurer an appointed position. 8-08A did this. 8-10 changes the wording of the constitution with regard to the position.

    Constitutional Amendment A (submitted to the congregations based on Resolution 8-10) changes the name and makes it an appointed position by deleting all mention of Vice President-Finance-Treasurer and his rights and duties from Articles X and XI of the constitution, also removing him from the synodical Board of Directors. 8-08A cannot be implemented if this amendment is not passed.


  5. @Timothy C. Schenks #4
    From speaking with a delegate: 8-08a does not change if this does not pass. This is just to coordinate the language. If it doesn’t pass, 8-08a continues with inconsistent language.

  6. I would suggest that several resolutions from the 2004 LCMS convention be revisited as the district submitted overtures for repeal were not allowed to come to the floor for synod consideration by President Kieschnick or the floor committees he appointed. Specifically I think we should look at 2004 3-08a and 8-01a but not only those. Start getting those ready to resubmit through district convention to synod.

  7. Rev. Allen Strawn :
    @Timothy C. Schenks #4
    From speaking with a delegate: 8-08a does not change if this does not pass. This is just to coordinate the language. If it doesn’t pass, 8-08a continues with inconsistent language.

    Where is that documented? How is a bylaw able to trump the constitution (if the constitution remains unchanged)?

  8. I asked the secretary of our synod a question about Amendment A. Besides renaming the position of Treasurer, it also changes the position from one that is an officer and member of the board of directors to a servant of the board of directors. However, this amendment does NOT change how the position is filled. That was already changed by the convention. SO, if the amendment does not pass, the Treasurer will still be appointed by the board of directors, but will also sit ON the board of directors.

    Also, the other amendment only ratifies and makes clear how the synod has already acted and treated the constitution and by-laws for many, many years, and I doubt that will change if the amendment doesn’t pass.

  9. Resolution 8-27 (Amendment B) is a horrible resolution and must be soundly defeated!

    1. The Constitution defines how the Constitution itself is amended, but does not define how bylaws may be changed. The bylaws define how they may be changed.. Bylaw 7.1 allows two different procedures for changing bylaws: “Amendments to the Bylaws may be made using one of two procedures, provided they are not contrary to the Constitution of the Synod.”

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

    3. So, the concerns expressed in Resolution 8-27 (Amendment B) are already taken care of in the Bylaws. There is no need to change the Constitution.

    4. But more than that, there is a very good reason to VOTE AGAINST the proposed Res. 8-27 change to the Constitution.

    5. If 8-27 passes, the Constitution will then specify 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 the existing Bylaw 7.1.2 which is still in force.

    6. If Res. 8-27 is passed by a 2/3 vote of the congregations, the Constitution would recognize only the synod in convention as the specified entity to adopt, revise, or eliminate bylaws by a simple majority vote. Thus the BOD could not implement Bylaw 7.1.2 to revise and correct bylaw changes if 8-10 is not passed or change/revise any other bylaw covered under Res. 8-12A. Because the “Constitution trumps the Bylaws” (per 8-27), the approved, but conflicting bylaws (such as Res. 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 (Amendment B). According to Res. 8-27, the Constitution authorizes only the Synod in convention to adopt, revise, or eliminate bylaws.

    7. Claiming that Res. 8-10 must be passed so that Res. 8-27 doesn’t cause a constitutional problem is no way to run a Synod! It’s more than sloppiness. It’s plain ol’ fouled up beyond all recognition (FUBAR)!

    8. On top of all that, who would determine whether a (proposed or adopted) bylaw is consistent with and does not contradict the Constitution of the Synod?!? It’s the entirely-appointed organization, the CCM, who, under 7.1.1 (c), were supposed to make sure such contradictory resolutions, like 8-27, never got to the floor.

    9. The approval of Res. 8-27 would only reinforce the power of the CCM to remove any bylaw they opined as being in conflict with the Constitution. And once the CCM issues its opinion, it would take a 2/3 vote of both the synodical convention AND the congregations to change the Constitution to override the CCM’s opinion. And any overtures or motion by delegates to rein in the CCM would never make it to the floor. We don’t need to give the CCM added encouragement to abuse such power.

    10. It’s time we loudly smack down such crappy resolutions as 8-27, which was embarrassingly approved by convention delegates. Shame on the delegates who approved of these resolutions!

  10. Resolution 8-10A (Amendment A) should also be defeated.

    1. President Harrison and his administration will have enough headaches dealing with financial and other issues of the Synod such as the complications caused by a badly designed 8-08A restructuring resolution. Congregations should vote down Res. 8-10 until it is clearly demonstrated (maybe in three years) that such a change from a Vice-President-Finance-Treasurer to a CFO would be beneficial and compatible with the restructuring efforts that, by then, will have been developed more fully by the Harrison adminstration.

    2. By defeating Res. 8-10 the constitutional position of a Vice-President-Finance-Treasurer would still exist and the responsibilities of that position would still be specified in the Constitution.

    3. As an example of the poor quality and coordination in the BRTFSSG resolutions, if Res. 8-10A is not passed, the bylaws changed by Res. 8-39 (on a vote of 576 – 534; only 51.9 percent!) would describe the duties of a “Chief Financial Officer,” a position that would not exist.

    4. If Res. 8-10A is not passed the BOD will need to implement Bylaw 7.1.2 as they were given authority to do in Res. 8-12A, in order to bring the bylaws mistakenly changed in Res. 8-39 to now reference the position title and responsibilities in agreement with those stated in the Constitution.

    Vote NO on the Res. 8-10 constitutional change!

  11. @PPPadre #3
    “Premise: The Synod is currently facing significant financial difficulties.”

    Then sell the so called “International Center” and move to a smaller building or even to the campus of Concordia Seminary (Sorry, I am assuming that they own the building)

    “Premise: The Board of Directors is responsible for the financial dealings of the Synod.”

    If we are facing significant financial difficulties and the board of directors are responsible for the financial dealings of the Synod, they why did they allow the spending of a million plus on the cost of a convention last summer?

  12. Why did the BOD (if they really have any control) allow the wasteful hiring of non Lutheran “consultants” to tear up the fabric of synod?

    Why do our synod and district meetings hire non Lutherans to talk of things that do not help us to be Lutheran Christians when we have enough “in house” talent to cover any topic worth meeting about?

    WHY do our leaders discourage our giving by wasting it on “fundraising experts”!? (Just tell us the need and show us with honest bookkeeping that the money was spent for the things that were needed.)
    [This didn’t start last decade, BTW; the “new media” just allow more people to know about it! (Reaction: “I’d like to shut down all the blogs.”) Ri i ght! Keep it in the dark!]

    Why not try being Lutheran

    What is it? Those who can, pastor a congregation; those who can’t, get themselves elected to something (and hire their incompetent friends)?

  13. Those who have read the recent Reporter will know that the board has already APPOINTED their new CFO and replaced the treasurer. When I wrote a letter to the editor of that publication to ask about that I discovered that the days of an elected treasurer are already over even if your congregations, like mine, object to what is being done. This can only be solved at the next Synodical convention (or by the Board of Directors who are free to change the By-laws when it suits their desires).

    I received the following E-mail in reply from the Synod Secretary on 1/11:

    Dear Rev. Jacobsen,

    The 2010 LCMS convention adopted two resolutions related to the Office of Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer of the Synod. One advocated changes to the Synod’s Constitution (Res. 8-10), such changes requiring ratification by the congregations of the Synod before becoming effective, and the other adopted changes to the Synod’s Bylaws (Res. 8-39), changes that took effect immediately upon adoption of the resolution.

    It was the latter resolution (Res. 8-39) that changed the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer position from a convention-elected position to a position filled by appointment by the Board of Directors. Since it addressed only bylaw changes, the resolution and its accompanying bylaw changes became effective immediately upon the resolution’s adoption. Accordingly, whether or not the congregations of the Synod ratify the constitutional changes advocated by Res. 8-10 will have no bearing on the board’s appointment of Mr. Jerald Wulf as the Treasurer of the Synod.

    Res. 8-10, on the other hand, advocated constitutional changes that remove reference to the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer from the specific listing of officers of the Synod in Constitution Art. X and remove the paragraph outlining the duties of the Vice-President–Finance—Treasure from Article XI. If these changes are not ratified by the congregations of the Synod, the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer (called the Chief Financial Officer in the Bylaws) will continue to be listed as an officer of the Synod under Article X of the Constitution, and his primary duties will continue to be listed in paragraph E under Article XI.

    Thank you for your question and this opportunity to help clarify the decisions of the convention regarding the office of Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer and the consequences of the vote of the congregations on the constitutional amendments.

    Raymond L. Hartwig
    Secretary, LCMS

  14. Raymond L. Hartwig:

    “If these changes [Res. 8-10] are not ratified by the congregations of the Synod, the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer (called the Chief Financial Officer in the Bylaws) will continue to be listed as an officer of the Synod under Article X of the Constitution, and his primary duties will continue to be listed in paragraph E under Article XI.”

    This was previously noted in #10Para. 2.

    What is not mentioned in Hartwig’s letter is that if 8-10 fails (as it should!) then the job description of CFO in Bylaws 3.4.1– will be for a job that simply doesn’t exist, or one that is redundant with that of the Vice-President-Finance-Treasurer.

    The synodical convention attempted to anticipate this by passing Res. 8-12A, which under the authority of Bylaw 7.1.2 allows the BOD to revise bylaws as necessary to implement the “spirit of the resolutions.”

    However, if Res. 8-27 is approved by 2/3 of the congregations, the BOD will not be able implement Res. 8-12A, according to Bylaw 7.1.2, to change Bylaws 3.4.1– to agree in title and responsibilities with Articles X and XI, because the approved Article XIV forbids bylaws that conflict with the Constitution. In this case, Bylaw 7.1.2 conflicts with approved Article XIV itself, which specifies only that the Synod in convention may adopt, revise, or eliminate Bylaws.

    Of course, the CCM could simply issue an opinion, along with “pigs can fly,” that there is no conflict between Bylaw 7.1.2 and Art. XIV, thus avoiding the conclusion that, according to the Bylaw 7.1.1 (c), the CCM did not do its job.

  15. It is disturbing that the CCM would be so arrogant as to put the text that has NOT been constitutionally approved into the Constitution and put the currently valid constitutional text as a footnote.

    Furthermore, if 8-10 fails and 8-27 passes, the BOD will not be able to revise the existing relevant bylaws because Bylaw 7.1.2 now is inconsistent with and contradicts Art. XIV.

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