By Joe Isenhower Jr.
The Synod’s Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) March 22 reaffirmed its eight opinions that the Board of Directors last year said are “of no effect.” The commission added that the resolutions by which the Board made that declaration are “directly contrary” to the Synod’s Bylaws.
The commission met by phone March 22 and sent letters the next day with those responses to the chairmen of the Board and of the Council of Presidents. The Board and COP held a joint meeting Feb. 6-7, where CCM Chairman Walter Tesch agreed to ask the commission to review the eight opinions.
Five of the opinions define limits to the Board’s authority and three have to do with “ecclesiastical supervision” in the Synod.
Last November, the Board of Directors passed two resolutions taking issue with those opinions and saying that are “of no effect.”
Synod Bylaw 3.905 d says that opinions of the CCM are binding unless overruled by a Synod convention.
At a meeting in February, the Board said it would withdraw the two resolutions if the CCM would withdraw its eight opinions, “so as to allow the issues involved to be addressed by the 2004 synodical convention.”
“Having reviewed the eight opinions,” the commission says in its March 22 response, “the CCM remains of the opinion that these opinions are correct, appropriate and consistent with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod. Further, it is not necessary for these opinions to be withdrawn in order to allow the issues involved to be addressed by the 2004 synodical convention.”
The CCM’s March response says that the Board’s two November resolutions “are directly contrary to Bylaw 3.183 d 2 which states that the Board of Directors ‘shall have the right to call up for review, criticism, modification or revocation any action or policy of a program board, commission, or council, except opinions of the Commission on Constitutional Matters.’
“If the CCM were to withdraw the questioned opinions,” the commission’s response continues, “the promised withdrawal action by the Board of Directors would be an empty gesture since the withdrawal of the opinions by the CCM makes those opinions a nullity and thereby ‘of no effect.’ Further, the Board of Directors could then claim to be acting in accord with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod since the constitution and bylaw limitations upon the activities of the Board of Directors as determined in those opinions would no longer exist.”
The commission says it “cannot agree with the conclusions” of the Board of Directors in “a detailed explanation of its concerns regarding the eight opinions” provided by the Board.
“A common thread running through the comments of the Board of Directors is its assertion of greater authority than conferred currently by the Constitution and Bylaws,” the commission’s response says. “It advocates that its supervisory power over all the property and business affairs of the Synod allows it to determine actions and authority which the Constitution and Bylaws presently give to other officers, boards and commissions. Further, the effect of the Board’s greater assertion of authority will necessarily be to influence doctrinal matters through its control of finances. If the polity of the Synod is to be changed, such change must come from the Synod in convention … and not by fiat of an officer or board.”
Posted April 16, 2004