By David L. Mahsman
LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick is formally reporting to the Synod that the Synod’s Board of Directors has taken actions that, in Bylaw language, “may be in violation of the Constitution, Bylaws and resolutions of the Synod.”
A notice to that effect from Kieschnick, who cites the president’s constitutional duty to make such reports, is printed in this Reporter. He also is submitting a similar, but somewhat lengthier, report to this summer’s Synod convention via the first issue of Today’s Business, which is to be mailed this month to delegates and others.
The primary issue, Kieschnick writes, is the Board’s action in November stating that it “cannot agree with or accept” eight opinions of the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM). In two resolutions, the Board said the eight opinions are “of no effect.”
Five of the CCM opinions define limits to the Board’s authority; three deal with “ecclesiastical supervision.”
“No individual, congregation, board, agency, commission, council or other entity of the Synod has the authority to ignore the binding nature of CCM opinions unless and until those opinions have been overruled by the Synod itself ,” Kieschnick writes. That includes the Board of Directors, which “is expressly forbidden by the Bylaws of the Synod from doing so,” he adds.
The position of the Synod, Kieschnick writes, is that those who take issue with any CCM opinion may ask the Synod convention to overrule that opinion. But they do not have the authority to ignore the CCM’s binding opinions in the meantime.
The Board disagrees. “On the one hand, the Synod’s Bylaws make opinions of the Commission on Constitutional Matters binding, also upon the Board of Directors. On the other hand, the Synod’s Bylaws require that the Board of Directors conduct its business according to Missouri law,” says “Board Briefs,” an online question-and-answer feature prepared by a Board committee.
According to “Board Briefs IV,” “the Synod’s Articles of Incorporation — a very important document in the eyes of the state — do not give the Commission on Constitutional Matters (or any other entity, for that matter, except the convention) binding authority over the Board of Directors, despite what the Bylaws may say.”
Kieschnick writes that his report to the convention comes at the conclusion of “many months of numerous meetings and collegial communications” with the Board, the CCM and the Council of Presidents. Most recent of these, he says, was a late April or early May phone call or personal visit with each Board member and officer “to be certain I fully understood the perspective of each.”
He also wrote to the Board that in light of the “clear wording” of the Constitution, Bylaws and a synodical resolution, “it is my duty to express this pastoral admonition, evangelical plea and respectful request that the Board of Directors alter or reverse” its actions regarding the eight CCM opinions. He asked for a response by the end of the Board’s May 20-22 meeting.
The Board’s response, Kieschnick writes, was to adopt a resolution titled “To Encourage the Synod to Adopt Commission on Structure Overtures.” That commission’s 18 overtures assigned to Floor Committee 7 (Structure, Planning and Administration) are printed in the 2004 Convention Workbook. They include proposals to amend the Synod’s Articles of Incorporation and to reconcile the Bylaws and those articles with Missouri state law.
“Following prayerful consideration, reflection and collegial consultation with the chairmen of the BOD and CCM and the Secretary of the Synod, my conclusion is that it is my duty to refer this matter to the Synod in convention ,” Kieschnick writes. He says that he forwarded a draft copy of his report also to Floor Committee 7 for consideration as it prepared resolutions May 21-24 for the convention.
In his concluding remarks, Kieschnick writes that he hopes and prays that his report is not interpreted as judging motives or maligning the intentions of anyone, including members of the Board and of the CCM.
“It is clear that a lack of agreement exists in interpretation of some of the governing documents of the Synod and that such lack of agreement simply must be addressed and resolved,” he writes, “both for the sake of doing things decently and in order and also for the sake of peace and harmony among us.”
Posted May 28, 2004