In a December mailing to LCMS congregations, the Synod’s Board of Directors said that now “is probably not the time for congregations of the Synod to affirm a change to the Constitution of the Synod.”
The mailing spoke to “Constitutional Amendment A,” which was adopted by last year’s Synod convention and is now before the congregations for ratification. Marked ballots must be returned and postmarked by Feb. 16 to be counted.
Amendment A, which would change wording in Article XI of the Constitution that deals with duties of the Board of Directors, was adopted 780 to 322 by the convention. But to go into effect, it also must be ratified by two-thirds of the congregations that return their ballots by the Feb. 16 deadline. The ballots were mailed to congregations in August.
“In the past, leaders of the Synod generally remained quiet during the time that congregations were voting on constitutional amendments,” wrote board Chairman Robert Kuhn in a cover letter to congregations. He added, though, that “a number of parties have not remained quiet and have offered information and encouragement of one kind or another.”
Kuhn asked, “Please receive this information as it is intended, as an opportunity for your congregation to learn more regarding the issues associated with Constitutional Amendment A from the group within our Synod that is most closely involved and most familiar with those issues.”
The board’s mailing addressed 13 questions about the amendment and two related resolutions adopted by the convention. One of the resolutions, Res. 7-02A, amended the Synod’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws concerning officer and Board of Directors responsibility; the other, Res. 7-21, is the one that resolved to amend the Constitution.
An introduction to the 13 questions said they are the same questions posed and answered in an Oct. 12 mailing to congregations from Dr. Warren Schumacher, chairman of the convention floor committee that prepared the two resolutions.
In his mailing, Schumacher said that the amendment would “clarify the role and responsibility” of the board. The board’s mailing says the amendment would do more than clarify; it would “accommodate the limitations to the duties and authority of the Board of Directors imposed by a related convention action, Resolution 7-02A.”
The board answered “yes” to a question that asks whether the board’s authority was “changed by the convention.” It said, “The authority of the Board of Directors was changed by Resolution 7-02A, change that was made possible by Resolution 7-21.”
As an example of the change, the board refers to a former bylaw that gave it the right to “call up for review, criticism, modification, or revocation any action or policy of a program board, commission, or council ….” That right has been reduced by Resolution 7-02A “merely ‘to request modification or revocation’ of such actions …,” the board wrote.
In his letter, Schumacher said that the convention did not change the board’s authority. “The Board’s historic authority was clarified, but not reduced, by the passage of Resolution 7-02A,” he wrote.
The role and authority of the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) also is addressed by the board. Citing a legal opinion it obtained in 2003, the board wrote, “At issue is whether another group within the Synod such as the CCM should have the responsibility and authority to overrule actions taken by the Board of Directors where property, business, and legal issues are concerned.”
Regarding the CCM, Schumacher had written that “the role of the CCM continues to be limited, as it was before this amendment, to responsibility for interpreting the Bylaws, Constitution, and resolutions of the Synod between conventions.”
The board wrote, “The question before the congregations of the Synod now is: ‘Are the solutions provided by Resolution 7-02A as accommodated by Resolution 7-21 in the best interests of the Synod?’ The Board believes that the answer to that question is ‘no.'”
“Should member congregations cast an affirmative vote for the proposed amendment?” asks the final question. Schumacher’s October letter said that the floor committee recommends adoption. The board, on the other hand, answers that “a congregation may wish to give consideration to the third-last resolve of Resolution 7-02A that ‘directs the President and Board of Directors jointly to appoint a committee to address the matter and report to the 2007 convention.'”
Documents in the Board of Directors’ December mailing are available on the Synod’s Web site. Go to www.lcms.org, click on “Ministry Areas,” then on “Board of Directors,” and finally on “Read” in the box titled “Recent Actions.”
Posted Jan. 27, 2005