Problems with 2013 Dispute/Expulsion System

Editorial Comment: Pastor Noland has been working on analyzing the Dispute Resolution Policy of the LCMS and this is a document that he recently generated. Feel free to download and distribute it widely per his instructions below.


  1. A person accused of doctrinal error may infinitely delay prosecution by continuously contesting the synod’s doctrinal resolutions or statements (see bottom of page one, last box).
  2. District President’s consultation with the CCM or CTCR may decide the case before it is heard, since how the question is framed determines the answer, and CCM or CTCR cannot do anything but answer the question as framed (see bottom of page 3, second to last box).
  3. District President may be disqualified due to “conflict of interest,” but “conflict of interest” is not specified, so any type of relationship with the accused or accuser can result in the District President being removed from case (see top of page four, third box from the top).
  4. District President, or his hand-picked Referral Panel, may terminate case arbitrarily, thus protecting doctrinal error in their district (see top of page 5, top two boxes).
  5. Hearing Panels, Appeal Panels, and Final Hearing Panels always have two or three district presidents out of a three member board to judge the cases. This is a confusion of executive and judicial powers (see middle page 5, fourth box from the top; top of page 6, third box from the top; bottom of page 6, last box).
  6. In Hearing Panels and Final Hearing Panels, both parties to the case and/or the synodical President, can ask for a binding opinion from the CTCR or CCM. How the question is framed determines the answer, because CCM or CTCR cannot do anything but answer the question as framed (see bottom of page 5, second to last box; top of page 7, second box from top).

NOTE: This document may be freely copied and distributed for the use of, and benefit of, members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. It is not to be altered or edited in any way.

Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland


These flow charts are based on the original printed 2013 Handbook of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The synod is now using an updated version that is only in electronic form. See here for a free online copy of the original printed 2013 edition.

All page numbers and bylaw numbers refer to that edition. The following charts and their explanations are for illustration purposes only, and are not to be relied on for actual cases.

Definition of Dispute/Expulsion

1) Disagreement; 2) accusation; 3) controversy; or disciplinary action (see Bylaw, p. 39).

Definition of Parties to a Dispute/Expulsion Case

1) LCMS congregation or LCMS rostered church-worker; 2) national LCMS itself; 3) LCMS district or LCMS controlled and owned entity; 4) case of excommunication in a congregation; or 5) a layperson who works for the LCMS, an LCMS district, or an LCMS controlled and owned entity (see Bylaw 1.10.2, p. 40).

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