HOUSTON—Within 45 minutes during the July 15 morning session, delegates to the Missouri Synod convention here adopted four resolutions offered by the Floor Committee on Ecclesial Matters (Committee 7).
The actions pertain to church matters that range from simply changing one word of the Synod bylaws, to others that add to or modify processes for removing board members or for hearing processes, and stipulations of categories of men who may serve congregations as pastors.
The 64th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is meeting July 10-17 at the George R. Brown Convention Center under the theme “ONE People—Forgiven.” Among the approximately 3,000 participants are some 1,200 clergy and lay voting delegates.
Resolution 7-03, adopted by a vote of 978-106, adds a process that provides for removing individual LCMS board or commission members when “cause for removal” applies.
Ten such “causes” are listed in one of the new Synod bylaws adopted. They are “incapacity, breach of fiduciary responsibilities to the Synod or agency, neglect or refusal to perform duties of office, no longer satisfying any of the qualifications for directors set forth in the articles of incorporation or bylaws of the entity as in effect at the beginning of the member’s term, conviction of felony, failure to disclose conflicts of interest to the Synod or agency, conduct evidencing a scandalous life, advocacy of false doctrine, failure to honor and uphold the doctrinal position of the Synod, [and] accumulation of three unexcused absences within any term of office.”
The new bylaw delineates the process developed by the Synod’s Commission on Structure for removing such members. Basically, it begins with a special meeting of the entity of which the individual is a member, where a three-fourths vote of its members is required to recommend his or her removal to the LCMS Board of Directors. Then, the Board of Directors also must concur with the recommendation by a three-fourths vote. The process also allows for an appeal by the removed member through the Synod’s dispute resolution process.
The procedure does not apply to the Synod president or district presidents and officers, since existing bylaws define the procedures in their cases.
Committee 7 Chairman Dr. Lane R. Seitz, president of the LCMS Minnesota South District, explained that the purpose of Resolution 7-03 was “to fill the gap in the bylaws.”
The delegates’ 1,060-46 vote adopting Resolution 7-04A modifies the makeup of hearing panels and final hearing panels for procedures adopted by the 2004 Synod convention regarding ecclesiastical supervision, dispute resolution and expulsion from membership in the Synod–applying to Bylaws 2.14, 2.15 and 2.17. The 2010 floor committee’s recommendations are in line with the findings of a task force mandated by the 2007 convention to further study the composition of such panels.
“Resolveds” of the resolution adopted here designate the Synod secretary as the administrator of such procedures and modify the composition of hearing panels and final hearing panels to include two district presidents, a layperson who is on the roster of Synod reconcilers, and a hearing facilitator.
By a vote of 1,008-100, delegates adopted Resolution 7-05, modifying the bylaw concerning specific ministry pastor limitations by authorizing one word change, from “location” to “context.” The change comes in a provision that states, “Because he is under the supervision of another pastor and because a specific ministry pastor’s theological education has been formed in part by and for a specific ministry context, he may not be placed or called into ecclesiastical roles that exercise pastoral oversight outside the context of his call.”
To a delegate’s question of what that change means, Seitz replied that “location” refers to a particular place where a specific minister pastor serves, and “context” to the type of ministry he is certified to serve.
And, in adopting Resolution 7-06A by a vote of 1,033-65, delegates authorized amendments to Bylaw 2.5.2, which applies to congregations and whom they may call as pastors.
To the existing category in the bylaw of “ordained ministers who have been admitted to their respective ministries in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth in these Bylaws and have thereby become members of the Synod,” the resolution adds bylaw wording for “candidates for the pastoral ministry who have satisfied the qualifications and requirements for assignment of first calls by the Council of Presidents acting as the Board of Assignments; or ordained ministers who are members in good standing of church bodies that have been formally recognized to be in altar and pulpit fellowship with the Synod, when agreements for such calls are in place.”
Posted July 15, 2010